Reaching the End
Just like a great story has a beginning, middle and end, so does a coaching engagement. Whether you are a manager who applies coaching principles and skills, or a professional coach working with clients, every coaching engagement will naturally come to an ending point. The work may restart or be refocused; however, the initial work will conclude. For managers who use a coaching approach, this may mean that the goals of the coaching with the employee is accomplished or the team member moves to another team. For professional coaches, this may mean that the goals for coaching have been achieved by the client, the contract for coaching services is completed, or the client leaves the organization.
Here are 5 questions that I like to ask clients at the end of our coaching engagement, and my intent and reasoning for each question:
- In what ways did you meet your goals for our coaching engagement? This helps the client reflect on the experience and the impacts of the work they did. I am interested in knowing if the client’s goals were met and what they gained from the coaching experience. This helps them celebrate their progress and identify accomplishments while leaving the possibility that more work may be needed.
- What have you learned through the coaching? What behaviors or skills have you acquired or developed during the coaching experience that you will apply going forward? In addition to coaching supporting goal attainment, it supports having a growth mindset and being a learner. These questions reinforce the growth that occurred as well as the mindset and behavior shifts have occurred as a result of the coaching. This helps to give closure to the successes of the work my client did.
- What do you see as your next set of priorities, and what makes them important to you? Another way of asking this is: “What questions do you have now that if you explored them would make a difference for you? And, why is that important to you?” Coaching is focused on improving performance, developing capabilities, and transitioning or transforming in a specific context and at a point in time. With the end of our coaching engagement, I want to know that my clients see other areas for growth and performance. This question is oriented towards the future and seeks to support what is most important for the client to do post-coaching.
- What resources and systems do you have in place to support you after our coaching engagement? Coaching is not intended to create dependence on the coach. Clients should develop independence and interdependence that extend beyond our coaching engagement. A support system (e.g., peers, managers, friends, etc.) can be terrific sources for feedback, challenging assumptions, providing perspectives, and support. I want to make sure my clients have planned for continued support, which is also an indication of the desire for continued development.
- What did I do as your coach that was particularly useful, and what would you suggest I consider doing differently with other clients? Just as I’ve modeled learning and development for my client through a variety of approaches, including feedback, I want to model that practice for my clients. This question does so while genuinely being curious about how I can hone my competencies as a coach.
Just as coaching is a discovery process that is action-oriented and results-focused, the closure process can continue that path. Closure is just as important as the beginning. These questions help me provide a path for continued discovery and action while bringing our coaching relationship to an end.
How have you concluded your coaching engagements? I’m interested in your thoughts and ideas, so please leave your comments, feedback, and suggestions below.
© 2021, John L. Bennett. All Rights Reserved.