In the past three years, I have written three articles which are related to beginnings, endings, celebrations and acknowledgements.

I would encourage you to review these articles if this is a topic that intrigues you, especially with the New Year on the horizon!

This year, I want to look at the importance of endings, celebrations and new beginnings.

First, let’s see what ICF Core Competencies we might reference. There are several sub-competencies that speak to this:

  • 3.11 Partners with the client to end the coaching relationship in a way that honours the experience.
  • 4.3 Acknowledges and respects the client’s unique talents, insights and work in the coaching process.
  • 6.6 Notices trends in the client’s behaviours and emotions across sessions to discern themes and patterns.
  • 8.6 Partners with the client to summarise learning and insight within or between sessions.
  • 8.7 Celebrates the client’s progress and successes.

Rather than look at these competencies individually and within each session, I want to explore how we use them more collectively when we end our coaching relationships. This includes how we can partner and support the client to celebrate their achievements and explore how our clients will move forward.

A question I am often asked, and which I ask others, is, ‘How do you complete work with a client when the work comes to an end?’.  When I ask this of coaches, I get a myriad of replies. Everything from ‘whatever the client needs to do’, to others who have a process and even rituals to end the work.

Whatever we do, clearly, we need to contract for it. Keeping Covey’s mantra of ‘start with the end in mind’, it’s useful to contract for ending when we start the work. However, we need to at least contract ahead of the last session to spend some time on looking back and looking forward.

What this can allow us to do is to partner with them to look back over the time we have worked together and explore questions such as:

  • What have you noticed has changed?
  • What are you now doing differently?
  • What are you most proud of in the work we have done together?

We can then move to the future:

  • What will you continue to do?
  • How will you continue the learning you have started?
  • What resources do you have and what do you need to ensure you keep moving forward now the coaching has finished?

For those astute coaches, you will recognise much of the above in the competency of Facilitates Client Growth (Competency 8). That is precisely what we are enabling… more growth and learning. What that means is that this last phase of our coaching relationship, continues to be about the clients growth, going forward, without our partnership.

What is then often forgotten is the need to celebrate their achievement. Human nature is often to look first at what we have done wrong and forget to look back to see the growth and change we have made along the way. We therefore forget to celebrate. Here is where we as coaches can have some input through the skill of recognising and acknowledging the changes we have seen and provide feedback on the strengths and achievements of our client. That way we can ensure they too see those strengths and their achievements.

We can then invite the question: ‘How are you going to celebrate your hard work and your achievements?’ (perhaps we could also ask that question right at the beginning of our coaching relationship too). My invitation to you is not to let clients simply say they will do something… coach them around a meaningful celebration… whatever meaningful is for them.

By doing this our hope is that, moving forward, they will continue to acknowledge, reflect, and celebrate their achievements, their learnings and their growth, when we are no longer partnering them as their coach. Then we will know our work is done.

The question to ask yourself now is:

The next time the work with a client is coming to an end, how will you co-create an ending that acknowledges, reflects, and celebrates achievements?

Here are a few additional questions for us as coaches

  • How often do you reflect on your own professional and personal path and celebrate and acknowledge your achievements?
  • When did you last look back and recognise that the path you are on has grown long, and there are significant achievements to be celebrated?

Whether you wait until New Years Eve or another time, I would encourage you to do this regularly and celebrate what is right and good with your world!

Hilary Oliver, MCC

Hilary Oliver is a Master Certified Coach (MCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She is also a trained Coaching Supervisor and Mentor Coach. Hilary trains coaches and works with managers and leaders to develop their coaching capability. She works as an International Corporate Executive and Board Level Coach, a leadership development designer and facilitator working with a wide range of organisations. Hilary also specialises in working with organisations to support them develop coaching culture. She has been the President of the UK ICF Chapter and is a Past Chair of the ICF Global Board.

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