The End … of a coaching relationship!

CoachingWhether or not coaching is taken in a sports or professional context, it is possible to be unsuccessful.

Before we dive in, let’s set forth a working definition of coaching. Coaching is a form of development in which a person in the role of a coach supports a learner, team member or trainee in achieving a specific personal or professional goal. The methods include providing training, advice and guidance. There are also informal coaching relationships between two or more people, wherein one has more experience and expertise in certain areas and provides advice and guidance to the others. Mentoring may also be an informal part of the coaching process that imparts relevant knowledge, psycho-social support, career, or professional development over a sustained time period.

A coaching relationship can be a fulfilling and gratifying experience. As is the case with any endeavor, the experience could also be a nightmare. There are a number of reasons for the termination of a coaching relationship when the interests of both parties are considered. For example, the coaching objectives have been achieved to the extent that they were defined or redefined, the coaching relationship could end normally and naturally. The situation becomes more difficult when the relationship must be terminated abnormally and unnaturally. There are many possible reasons why a coaching relationship could be terminated.

However, in this article we will address three (3) situations. They are: associate or team member desires termination of the relationship; the coaching contract is broken or lack of sufficient rapport.

1. Relationship Termination DesiredIn a professional or work setting, an associate or team member may be assigned a coach for reasons related to performance skills, developmental skills or disciplinary related issues. You may encounter times when the associate or team member doesn’t appear to respond immediately to the coaching sessions and you inquire into the underlying causes and address them. However, there are times when you may feel that you have exhausted every effort and the associate or team member does not make adequate progress.

One option is that someone else may be able to more effectively help the associate or team member to move forward at that particular point in time.  As a coach, you also have other responsibilities related to your job or position. The missed milestones or appointments may be causing complications in your job performance. This is where you may make the decision that the coaching contract is not being fulfilled and decide to terminate the relationship.

2. Broken Coaching ContractIn the instance of a coaching contract, the contract may be very simple and uncomplicated. A coach needs to agree upfront that the associate or team member is held strictly accountable for the commitments made during the coaching relationship, and build an accountability discussion into every session. The associate or team member should take time to write the desired outcomes to be gained from the relationship and the more specific the better.

For example, an associate or team member has had problems completing assignments on time. The contract might entail, reviewing the three highest priority assignments with the coach before beginning to work on them. Secondly, agree on a simple plan for doing the work and finally, schedule a review session one week before the due dates. Some of the issues that are concerning could be that the associate or team member has missed one too many planning sessions, failed to create a work plan and has missed several review sessions. This could be grounds for terminating the relationship.

3. Insufficient RapportDespite your best efforts, you may not be able to establish a sufficient level of rapport to allow you to relate to effectively your associate or team member. Coaching requires excellent rapport to be successful. If your associate or team member is not responsive, unable or unwilling to be open to you and your efforts the coaching relationship has failed and it should be terminated.

Related Articles:   Coaching … how did I do?   and   When an Associate Struggles … COACH!

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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