“And they lived happily ever after…?”

Reaching the end of a chapter, means the beginning of the next. How have you worked with your client so s/he continues well without you?

What could be said about your clients when they completed the coaching process?

They were very satisfied!

It was so valuable, they want more!

Mission accomplished!

They recommend you to their friends and colleagues!

In this post I want to share some of what I have learned to ensure to end a coaching relationship well.

How to bring good closure to the coaching process and relationship

The ending of a coaching relationship is just as important as it’s beginning!

As coaches, we are aware of the importance to start a coaching process well. We establish a partnering relationship with the client that is marked  by trust, safety and depth for discovery, learning and where change is made possible.

We establish the overall goals, outcomes or a development plan, that gives us a sense of direction of what the client wants to focus on and work towards. This all becomes part of the coaching agreement and allows us to check in with the client to measure movement and progress towards these outcomes or goals.

As a coach, we always aim at the client’s independence from us and aim to work ourselves out of our job! What follows the coaching process is even more significant than what happened until it ended! It might be the end of your work, but your client’s work continues!

Before I offer some thoughts on ending a coaching relationship well, I invite you to reflect on these questions and note your own insights and what you consider to be important:

  1. What would good closure look like for my client?
  2. What would good closure look like for me?
  3. What else is important?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Review & Celebrate Progress

  • Let the client self-reflect on the progress they made in regards to the goal/s or outcomes you had agreed on together in the beginning the coaching process. If something shifted in regards to the goals or outcomes, let them reflect on that as well.
  • What did they learn about themselves? What change do they or others notice? Focus not only on what they accomplished but how they accomplished that? How might that help them in the future?
  • What observations might you offer as the coach of the progress you’ve seen, the client’s strengths, uniqueness, changes, effort, self-awareness?
  • What or how does the client want to celebrate what s/he accomplished?

What’s next? 

  • What does the client want to continue working on, or maintain, keep, guard, ensure… rhythms, support system, accountability, mindsets, perspectives, living out who they are, etc.?
  • What remains open to keep working on that they might not have yet worked on but has become important?
  • What support would they want and how would they hold themselves accountable?
  • How will the client ensure s/he continues to progress and learn?
  • Would they want more coaching with me? If so, what might that look like? Are you as the coach available to continue or not? And if they actually want to continue and I feel that is a good fit as well, then a new agreement is established, fees or barter, if applicable, are discussed and agreed to, what continuing to work together will look like, etc.
  • I usually offer that they can schedule a check-in call with me at some point if they’d like.

Get Testimonials

As you build your practice as a coach, your clients’ testimonials or references (especially if they are satisfied ;-)) can be very valuable to gain new clients. With your clients’ permission, you can use these on your website, newsletters, LinkedIn profile etc.

The following questions might help with that (but write them in your own way):

  • What did your life look like before and after the coaching process?
  • What pain or struggle were you in? What did life/work look like? What was your challenge/frustration before they found you?
  • After working with you, what did life and/or work look like? What impact did you notice? What is different for you now?

Ask for Referrals

Most coaches continue to receive clients through ‘satisfied customers’. Your clients are your best advertisement. Even if you are ‘just’ a beginner coach, serving your clients well, respecting them, giving your best, has an impact and they might be willing to recommend you to their colleagues and friends. Don’t hesitate to ask! This might be where your best ‘marketing’ takes place: in your own coaching practice!

In closing

I encourage you to experiment with what questions to ask, how to engage your client in this process, using an on-line feedback from in addition etc.

Also be aware that for some clients, ending a coaching relationship is not easy and needs to be done thoughtfully and with care. It should not be abrupt, even if your agreement was to work only with a set number of sessions. Therefore give it thought and communicate clearly with your client when the time comes to bring closure or whether you would offer to continue working with them.

In some cultures the coaching relationship becomes so meaningful and important for the client and s/he might grieve or dread the ending. They might feel like they are ‘losing a friend’ or their ‘confidant’, even though a coach is not the client’s ‘close friend’… Therefore help your client think through what support, especially relational support, they might want to put in place. This is a critical element in the closure process. As a coach you can be intentional about this in your agreement with your client from the start! You are aiming for the client being independent from you and your aim is to support her or him towards their goals for a season, not a life time!

Reflection & Action?

What would you want to add and implement in your coaching?

Want to learn more and sharpen your coaching skills? Join the next Mentor Coaching Group!