One of the coolest parts of coaching is the interpersonal relationship that develops between coach and client. Yet clients often continue to work with a particular coach long after the power of their coaching relationship has ebbed. So it’s always a good idea to regularly assess where you are with your coach and consider what might make the relationship even more beneficial for you. Maybe all that’s needed is a little tweaking here or there.

But it may also be that it’s getting to be time for you to make a change.

Telltale Signs That It May Be Time For A Change

So how can you tell? Well to be sure, you’ll need just the right mix of intuition, mood and consideration. To help, though, here are some telltale signs you may want to look for:

  • The reasons for hiring your coach to begin with are no longer as relevant as they once were
  • You’re wanting to work with more of a specialist
  • The energy you get from your coaching session isn’t lasting as long as it used to
  • You’re not pushing yourself as much as you used to – and you miss that
  • It’s been a while since you’ve had a major developmental leap or gained new insight or understanding about yourself
  • You’re thinking that you’d rather be your coach’s friend than client
  • The program you’re enrolled in is nearing conclusion

If a few of these items hit home for you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to quit working with your coach. And if you’ve got mixed feelings about making such a move, clearly you ought to talk with your coach about what you’ve realized. But say you now realize that it really IS time to make a change. What’s next?

Taking the Next Step

  • Make the decision on your own. Although your coach (and colleagues) can certainly help you work through the question, it is something that you ultimately have to decide for yourself
  • Don’t try and find a new coach before informing your current one. It’s about you being ready for a change, not about comparing one coach to another, so go one step at a time
  • Let your coach know. If you’re ready for a change, just say so. After all, your relationship is built on trust and honest disclosure and all coaches know that this conversation is an inevitable part of working together
  • As a show of respect, tell your coach about the value you’ve received from working together and help him/her see why it’s now time to move on
  • Agree to spend a month (or whatever) finishing up your work together. Maybe there’s something you want to circle back on; maybe your coach has a ‘completion’ process s/he’d like you to go through. Finish up with a smile and head held high
  • Get over any residual guilt feelings you may have. While, yes, your decision does affect your coach, it’s more about what’s best for you – after all, you’re the one paying. And your coach already knows that sometimes what’s best IS change. So celebrate your growth and readiness to take some bigger strides. Own the personal growth that this implies.

If your coach is cool, you’ll feel validated in having made a difficult – but appropriate – decision.

Next up: finding a new coach to work with.

Finding Your Next Coach

  • First, get clear on what you want your next set of goals and objectives to be. Think through the makings of that next big challenge of yours and what type of support would serve you best
  • Then, ask friends and colleagues what they like about their coaches. Not so much to see if their coaches would be a good match for you – which they might, by the way – but more so to reacquaint yourself with some of the language you can use in making your own assessments
  • Check out coach referral sites. The International Coach Federation has one and so do all the major coaching schools
  • Talk with several coaches before making a selection. Take advantage of any offer for a complementary sample session. They’re a great way to experience how a coach coaches
  • Consider your choices: How aligned are your personalities? Who had the biggest impact on you? Who made/helped you think the most? What emotional energy did you get from talking with each of them? Whose style of coaching and support feels best?
  • Make your selection and don’t look back – not for a while, anyway.

Now it may be time for you to change coaches. But then again, maybe it’s not. The important thing is that you make that determination by choice and not just by default.

I originally wrote this article in 2002. It was originally carried by the Association of Coaching & Consulting Professionals, The Coaching Zone, and the Online Consultancy Network – none of which, sadly, seem to be around anymore. I decided to republish it here as a tie-in to a LinkedIn comment I recently posted.

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