How to Release Coaching Clients From Your Program Fairly
Many established coaches feel it’s unfair to release coaching clients from their program if the client refuses to step up and learn and take action – even if they, as a coach, have gone above and beyond to help that client.
I’d like to respectfully disagree and say that in situations like that, letting your client go is the fair thing to do, for both you and your client, especially when you can prove that you’ve “gone above and beyond” and/or prove that your client refused to “step up and learn and take action“.
In my experience, I’ve found that coaches who feel it’s unfair often do so because they’re unsure how to prove these two things and show that the decision to release the client from their program is a fair one. In fact, many of my clients changed their stance on the matter when we refined two specific things in their business.
STEP 1: We refined their program curriculum to explicitly define milestone checkpoints and deadlines that affect program outcomes.
All coaching programs are structured to help clients achieve a promised outcome. To deliver on this outcome, there are normally critical actions (prerequisites for downstream activities) that clients must do on time to accomplish your promised results.
These critical actions are called milestone checkpoints. Think of each milestone checkpoint as the big boss you have to defeat before you move to the next stage of the game. 🎮🎮
For example: if you are a business sales coach whose methods for success hinges on your client having a lead magnet, completing that lead magnet should be a milestone checkpoint with a deadline assigned. If your client doesn’t have the lead magnet, they don’t have what you need to move them to the next stage of your process. 😔
When this occurs, naturally the next step would be triggering the penalty associated with the violation. However, the challenge is that these milestone checkpoints and deadlines are often not known/defined and/or explicitly communicated at the start of the program.
Many coaches wait until it’s near time for the action to be taken to even mention it. By doing this, they miss the opportunity to set expectations during onboarding and incorporate them into their accountability system by using these actions as a means to track client progress.
So instead, when the violation occurs, they end up defaulting to “trying to motivate” the client to do the work or, when that fails, keeping the client in the program but ignoring them all while dealing with passive-aggressive frustration.
STEP 2: We refined their accountability system to focus on the promised outcome by defining penalties for failing to meet milestone checkpoints.
When it comes to accountability, many coaches tend to feel uncomfortable about having penalties for failing to meet milestone checkpoints. Your clients are adults, right? So, you continuously give the carrot instead of the stick even as your frustration and bewilderment at their inaction grow.
The truth is, it is good to render grace but there must be a point when “enough is enough.” Even God has accountability systems with penalties. He set expectations with Adam and Eve and cast them out of the garden when they disobeyed. He restricted Moses from entering the Promised Land after he struck the rock instead of speaking to it, as directed.
The thing is, many of your clients need and would appreciate the accountability. They partnered with you to not only get the strategy but also the stick (or the solid reality check or kick in the butt) when needed.
So when they fail to take action and your default is to ignore them or sweetly try to get them to do the work, you’re doing them and yourself a great disservice.
Because accountability without penalties is just a suggestion. Could you imagine if we had speed limits without any associated infractions? No one would take care not to break them unless they’re do-gooders with a conscience…
Because there are no penalties. Penalties help you to keep them on track. They help to ensure they don’t waste your time or theirs and prevent a ripple effect of relaxed procrastination from permeating throughout your program.
It must be noted that the penalty must match the infraction and have grace embedded. Using the example of the speed limit, you don’t necessarily lose your driver’s license on the first infraction. Similarly, penalties can range from warnings all the way to expulsion from your program.
The Point Is…
With these two things in place, you’ll create the accountability system that allows you to confidently release clients from your program if the client refuses to step up and learn and take action – especially if you have gone above and beyond to help your client.
One Final Thing…
This is actually one of the outcomes I help my clients to achieve through my 8-week Client Experience Consulting Service. My clients are established Christian business coaches who have delayed signing a lot more clients because you feel something in your coaching program is broken that causes only 33-70% of your clients to get your promised results.
To ensure you’re equipped to coach ALL your clients to promised results without frustration, we also partner together to refine your client screening and enrollment process to ensure you admit ideal clients into your coaching program and serve them well even before you start working with them.
We also refine your coaching program curriculum into a step-by-step guide so you deliver your program with excellence that positions your clients to get your promised results without you wondering what’s next or spinning your wheels to be ready.
Finally, we bring everything together into a Game plan of action so you can incorporate your new plans into your existing processes and systems.
Comment below if you have any questions or thoughts about what I’ve shared above.
Written by Chanel Robe
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