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Author's profile photo Jason Cao

Coach’s Corner – Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

William Shakespeare said it best, “Parting is such sweet sorrow!” When you’ve established a certain level of trust, understanding and even friendship with someone, it’s difficult to end that relationship. In a coaching relationship, parting ways is a must, and can be a sign of success.

Unlike a mentor, engagements with coaches are goal-oriented and have specific start dates, and either target end-dates or estimations of number of meetings. I know it sounds transactional and task-oriented, but that’s exactly what needs to happen for ‘clients’ to gain the greatest value from their coaches. Clients understand what they want to achieve, and coaches know how to help their clients achieve these goals. This doesn’t mean coaches will do the work for clients, nor does it mean coaches are responsible for the progress. However, coaches can help manage and hold their clients accountable to lack of progress.

The obvious reason for ending coaching relationships is that clients have achieved their goals. To continue engagements without a goal, simply because they enjoy each other’s company or conversation is beside the point of the coaching engagement. Clients may choose to continue with their coaches on a separate goal, as a new engagement.

Here are some other reasons why relationships between clients and coaches can end:

  • The client doesn’t feel needs are met by the coach (lack of rapport with coach, discomfort with coaching style or personality).
  • Coach feels client’s needs cannot be met.  The coach might acknowledge that coaching isn’t the right support based on the client’s needs, or that the client isn’t open to coaching. In these cases, coaches may refer another coach or another support service.
  • Changes in the client’s needs (such as de-prioritized goal, goal met by other means such as training, lack of resources such as time or budget).

As a coach, I love the opportunity to work with and help others. At the same time, I know the limits of coaching (as well as my own limits). This post is a reminder that ending coaching relationships, whether or not expectations were met, is a good thing and allows us to move forward.

I’m leaving you with one of my favourite songs from the Manhattans (check out the outfits and dance moves!):

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Check out more blog posts in this series: Coach’s Corner.

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      Author's profile photo Minerva Chavez
      Minerva Chavez

      Hello Jason,

      I love the wisdom in your article, about identify the reasons why a coaching process could end.

      But also bring me focus on Trust in the Coaching process, in the client and in us, as coaches. In order to respect all parties' right to terminate the coaching relationship at any point for any reason during the coaching process.

      Timing is everything. If it's meant to happen, it will, at the right time for the right reasons..


      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for your comment Minerva!

      Yes indeed, trust is so necessary between the coach and client that each can decide to continue and end the engagement when the time is right. Setting the right expectations at the beginning of each coaching partnership helps, but if situations change (and many times they do), we need to adapt and accept the reality that circumstances reveal and move on. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Rutika Bodas
      Rutika Bodas

      I absolutely loved the article Jason Cao.

      Perfect parting to the perfect blog indeed! Thanks for this post!

      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you for your comment and for reading the post Rutika! 🙂