Ways to conclude a coaching engagement

Coaching is a process that has a starting point, and eventually an ending point. I’ve previously written about how to create a coaching development plan and recommend reading that article in conjunction with this one.

The purpose of any coaching engagement is for our coaching client to become better, whether that is as a manager, a team member, a leader, a small business owner, or in pursuit of a new personal scenario, or a new business venture.

Oftentimes, the very act of having a coaching session is the greatest value of all, because we are providing a dedicated period of time for our coaching client to pause and reflect, providing a supportive, non-judgmental, confidential setting.

The Coaching Development Plan (CDP) as a tool for closing the engagement

A coaching engagement starts with clarity about the purpose of the coaching, considering What, How and Who:

  • What’s the vision for the coaching client, whether that’s a self-aspiration or in conjunction with expectations by management in a corporate setting.
  • How does your client build relationships and engage with others in the process of fulfilling their vision.
  • Who exploration; what are the thoughts, beliefs, attitude, approaches, emotional states and more, that will support the building of relationships, and moving toward their aspiration or vision.

Your client creates their Coaching Development Plan (CDP) based on these components (What, How, Who). For my client’s, I don’t impose a template or style. It’s up to each of my clients how they create their plan. Some are brief, others are more in-depth, depending on the style preference of each person. I will give my observations and input once they have created their first draft.

The close of a coaching engagement has at least these three components, based on the CDP:

  • Review their CDP for progress

  • Celebrate successes

  • Discuss what’s next

Review their CDP for Progress

Have your client formally review their CDP with you for progress made within each component of their plan (What, How, Who). Where specific measures of success were determined in advance, review for what actually occurred.

Oftentimes my client presents their progress and successes to their manager, and the manager gives their observations as well. My role is to support my client to prepare for that meeting. I, as the coach, also give my observations about what I’ve noticed, which is mostly about the Who of the client. I will notice their efforts, their experiments, and their self-awareness.

Celebrate Successes

This part is often missed. As human beings, we seem to be wired for continually looking at what’s next, or what’s wrong, and in the process we forget to celebrate what we just accomplished.

Celebrating involves the client reflecting on the successes they’ve had, as well as how they created those successes. In the process of discussing successes, the coach can ask questions to help the client draw out what occurred, so they can use that information to create further success.

Discuss what’s next

Often a CDP has ongoing components, especially when it comes to the “Who” elements. For example, if someone is working with making a shift from being the first to speak in meetings, to letting others contribute more, then it may be an ongoing work-in-progress for them.  Or if someone is working with being more patient with others and channeling their frustration more constructively, it may take a lot of ongoing intention and effort to practice a different way of expressing emotion.

How is your coaching client going to support themselves beyond the coaching engagement? Sometimes, it’s further coaching sessions and if in a company setting, then preparing the case for further coaching investment.  

Where further coaching isn’t the chosen option, then support your client to consider ways they will continue their progress. One of the best gifts we can give our clients is that of the joy of being a continuous learner. No matter how lofty we have ascended in our career or what age we are, we can always learn new things about ourselves, and others.


Are you preparing for your first or next ICF Credential?

Do you want to “Sharpen the Saw” as a Coaching Professional?


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Carly Anderson will be ‘flying solo’ in 2017 as Karen Boskemper goes on to work on other projects. I will her miss her wisdom and support, and yet wish her all the best in her next endeavors.

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