Client Refuses to Do the Work

If you’re a practicing Life Coach you are going to run into the client who is going to be underperforming. For whatever reason, the client is not fulfilling their end of the bargain in the coaching relationship. What can you do when your client refuses to do the work?

All coaches should have a given specialization, and as part of the coaching agreement, your client agrees to do the work necessary to achieve their goals and/or continued personal and professional growth.

You may notice at some time in your coaching when a particular client reaches a point or enters into a nonproductive phase. Several sessions have passed with no change, and your client seems to have no motivation or commitment to follow through on their end of the bargain. Sure, they don’t have any problem paying for the sessions, but you’re feeling like you’re not being faithful to your commitment to your own calling or mission.

Do I love my clients? Yes. Am I going to do the work for them? No.

Here are 5 steps to consider when your client refuses to do the work

1. Refer Your Client Elsewhere

The client’s needs may have turned away from your specialty and they have found themselves on another path, at least for the moment, or all together. For instance, if I am a Business Coach and have a business client who has committed to increasing their business, and we’ve made good, continued progress until the client’s entering this phase, maybe it’s time to either change our agreement, or refer them to another coach who specializes in the focus that seems to occupy their attention as of late.

Referring him or her is not that difficult for me because I share my Olympia Life Coach practice with many other practitioners. So, it is easy for me to say something like, “I see your life focus has changed while your attention is focused more on your relationship than your business. How about I refer you one of my associates, a Relationship Coach who specializes in the area with which you are now concerned? When you have completed your work with him (or her), you can come back to me when you are ready to focus again on your business.”

For me, it’s important to stay focused on clients with dreams and goals who are willing and able to take action, moving through the process, as necessary, whereby I assist them in achieving their highest and best, if I am to remain true to my own calling. Of course, if they meet with a challenge and they are on top of it, I can shift my focus in the moment, to overcome a persistent challenge, but if they are going to tarry there for long, I am more likely to refer them to a specialist.

2. Reaffirm Commitment to Accountability

It might be a good idea to remind the client about what they sought you out for, again directing them to their initial service agreement, call to action, and performance-based accountability. As a coach, your primary method of operation is to encourage clients to set their goals and keep them accountable for taking the steps necessary to do their part.

While they are having their attention focused away from their own work (that specific work which they contracted you to assist them with) they might suggest that you accept additional compensation for helping them pick up the slack, or perform their part (doing their homework) on their behalf. This would be a good time to reaffirm that is not your responsibility to do their work for them, that is their job. They must be held accountable in keeping their end of the bargain.

Having this discussion might be just what it takes to get them back on track.

3. Review Their File

As your client’s accountability partner, you will have records to use as proof of their nonperformance over the last X number of sessions. While you appreciate their willingness to pay you for being their sounding board, this is not your primary function. Certainly, you want to be empathetic, encouraging, and open. You want to share the details of their personal life, especially if it is interfering with their follow-through and progress toward their goals. While you may be able to get them over the hump for approaching unforeseen challenges that may not be directly related to the performance of their coach, this is a powerful service to offer your client ensuring they do not get waylaid by obstacles that would otherwise impede their progress, but this is not your primary service.

Showing them their consistent lack of action based on your notes may be enough to get them back on track (which reinforces your commitment to keeping adequate records). After all, you are their accountability partner, right? Then it’s up to you to hold them accountable.

4. Set a New Goal

Your client can choose from a couple of options if they are to continue as your coaching client, those options would be to

1. Reinstate the previous task, and set a new date for achieving the task that was missed. Although before agreeing to do this, make them think it through answering questions like,
a. What day will you do it
b. How much time will it take, and
c. Will you have all the tools necessary to accomplish it?
2. Set a new goal or task to complete prior to the next session

Setting an entirely new goal may result in trimming down the agreed upon action to be taken making it more attainable for your client during a period of time when they are not on the top of their game. It’s better to make a little progress than no progress at all.

If that doesn’t work,

5. Final Review

The following session will be a review of your client’s agreement and their inability to follow-through with their end of the bargain. You have already attempted to lower the bar of expectation and renegotiate the original agreement to accommodate for their current distractions.

This will be the final review of their agreements and nonperformance based on your notes.

If they are still unable to be true to their own commitment to their own program for personal or professional growth, then severing the relationship might be in order, either for the interim, until your client is ready to get back on board, or indefinitely.

Be certain to affirm that you are not judging them, are not saying anything about where they are in their life, nothing being right, nothing being wrong, things are just as they are, and this coaching relationship is not working for either of you at this time.

Bid them adieu, with God’s blessings, and refer them to someone else, or simply let them go. You can keep the door open for reestablishing a new coaching relationship, down the road, when they are willing and able.

Coaches Trained Born and Made

Training and certifying coaches for years, I hear two distinct references about great coaches and their ability to coach

You can train to be a great coach

Great coaches are born, not trained

Both are true, you can train to be a great coach and the best coaches are born to be coaches. And I would add another,

Life can call and make you the best coach

Let’s take a look at these ideas, digging a little deeper

You can train to be a great coach

Coaching, like any other trained profession, can be learned. The skills can be taught and learned in a classroom setting. In this respect, any good student could learn to be a great coach, technically.

Trained coaches are advised to discover and find a specialty, an area to focus their particular expertise, to specialize in a particular type of coaching.

You are born a great coach

In my practice, I see many people who are “born coaches.” What does it mean to be born a coach? It simply means that you may not have trained to be a coach but it is something you’ve done your whole life. And if you’ve come to this planet to be a coach, you’ve been coaching as long as you can remember and usually have a specialty.

If you came to this planet to be a coach, a quick review of the types of people who have been attracted to you for a particular type of advice, indicates your pre-destined target audience. For instance, if people have been drawn to you for advice on their love lives, then it’s pretty plain to see, you came here with the divine assignment of being a relationship coach.

Life made you the best coach

This type of coach is highly specialized and trained by life, sometimes the most tragic training and learnings from life have qualified you to be one of the few people with such unique terrestrial training, that most likely could never be taught in the classroom.

The training has likely taken place along a hard, treacherous road travelled by others, but you, though beaten and bruised (either physically or emotionally) have come out on the other side of this episode of life, successfully, with a positive perspective.

In this scenario, life has given you qualifications to help others navigate circumstances and challenges which you have first-hand experience with.
In most cases the life-trained best coaches are the most reluctant because it is understandable that their self-confidence might be somewhat lacking following their life’s struggle, and they are haunted by negative self-talk, such as not being worthy or well-educated in their imposed field of study.

Why else do you think life would have selected you to endure this harrowing experience?

Could it be that you have been hand-picked to be the lighthouse, beaming your message of hope and support to others who may be experiencing the same traumatic experiences, right now?

It was no accident that you were chosen to weather this storm, because no one is more qualified to offer hope to others going through what you went through.

These people are looking for you, right now.

Will they be able to find you?

They may not be able to make it without you…

The longer you put off answering the call, the more they will suffer. Wouldn’t you have wanted someone, like you, to offer hope and support?

What time is now for you to accept your divine assignment?

It’s time for you to “Coach Up,” and answer the call.

Aren’t All Life Coaches the Same?

It’s not uncommon for people to have misconceptions about the types of coaches and mentors that I work with, especially if they have met one. After meeting someone who introduces them as a “Life Coach” and you get to know a little about them and what they do, you might come to the conclusion that this is what life coaches are like. Like most assumptive generalizations, nothing could be further from the truth.

That would be like saying that all government employees are the same. While they may share some similar characteristics, each coach, counselor or consultant is more like an individual work or art and no two are the same.

Out of nearly a hundred different types of coaches I’ve worked with, the most popular include the general life coach as well as coaches in specialized areas of business, career, communication, financial, leadership, mentoring, performance, relationship, and spiritual to note a few.

Each individual coach, counselor or consultant brings their own mix of varying degrees of innate skills, life experiences and professional training to become the ever-evolving version of themselves which they offer to others as a support system, and every one has his or her own unique style of coaching.

For instance, here are just some attributes of coaching styles that you might find in a potential coach:

  • Accountability partner
  • Acts as a guide and confidant
  • Assist individuals in breaking out of their comfort zone and expand their thinking
  • Assist others in seeing the superpowers shrouded by infirmity or disability
  • Assists in trying new things or a new ways of doing something
  • Challenge the person’s assumptions
  • Cognitive shift enabling clients to achieve their goals
  • Competition coaching in any field from sports to professional
  • Focus on experimentation, creativity and innovation
  • Goals setting and achievement
  • Help others turn bad experiences into treasure leading to a bright future
  • Helping people live in the now
  • Helps make a considerable break from the past
  • Helps remove blocks that may be the result of a hidden fear or limiting beliefs
  • Identifies with how the client is feeling
  • Identify personal or professional symptoms, find out the source of those symptoms, and help them find solutions
  • Increasing performance, personal and/or professional
  • Motivation and inspirational
  • Reflective consideration, overcoming the past to effectively move forward
  • Uncovering expansion of truth and belief systems
  • Work with a person resistant to growth
  • Work on personal standards and boundaries
  • Work with people on who they are, what they want and how to achieve their desires

There are so many different kinds of coaches with so many styles and specialties that it is nothing short of impossible a task to try to lump them all into a particular set of characteristics, even if based on their particular field of expertise.

So, if you’re looking for a coach, keep in mind that one size does not fit all. Find the right coach for you, one whose style resonates with you.

And if you’re interested in becoming a coach or mentor (or already are one) celebrate your individuality and be yourself. Embrace a style of coaching that suits you well and helps your clients achieve their highest and best.