As a coach a lot of your life is spent in transition, beginning new coaching relationships, the client changing and evolving and then the day when they no longer need coaching. It’s actually fun being in a role where you are trying to do yourself out of a job.
Yes you heard me right there. As a coach you have to factor in your own redundancy. Now in some ways it seems counterintuitive to look forward to having no work but in actual fact it’s what you should be striving for with a client. To close that relationship and enable the client to “fly solo” is its own (very special) reward. Some clients – and indeed coaches – seek to prolong the relationship, not least because it is safe and comfortable but this does both parties a disservice. It’s a bit like those people you see in movies who have been with the same psychiatrist for years – that’s not therapy it’s a chat!
Of course like all endings it needs to be carefully managed. I make it explicit at the start of the coaching engagement that we build towards a final session. That session will be a summary of themes, learning and achievements over the life of the relationship. Clients often say that this session is the final part of the jigsaw for them, making them realise how far they have come, how much they have developed. Also if well handled this can act as a springboard to far greater achievements.
So where else can you use an opportunity to formally mark the end of something? Well many of my clients now hold “wash up” sessions at the end of projects or pieces of work. This sense of closure, of properly ending something allows teams and individuals to move forward more quickly. It doesn’t have to be a formal thing either. I recently had a client who had taken on a role with a title which no longer fitted the job. This was confusing to the business and frustrating to my client who also had to overturn the poor perceptions around the worth of the role. Her solution? A wake to mark the death of the old job. That enabled her colleagues to let go of the old associations and start fresh with her on the Monday morning. She even got a card welcoming the “new arrival” just like a new child!
So my call to action. What haven’t you ended in your mind? What project or work-stream haven’t you let go of yet? And how will you mark its passing? Please drop me a line in the comments.
My thanks are due to Margaret Burnside for prompting this line of thinking. Check her out on twitter, she’s a great coach.