What is the appropriate life-cycle of a coaching relationship?

In a High Impact coaching relationship, timing is critical. Often people ask, “How long should I use the coach?” Or, “What is an effective life-cycle for coaching?”

Here are some guidelines to monitor your coaching relationship so you will be able to determine when you think the time is up. In our experience, the minimum time for effective coaching is six months, and the maximum is really determined by the level of results that are being produced.

There aren’t too many business professionals that can sustain a long run in a high performance environment. It takes something that is fundamentally counter-productive to how we are designed as human beings. Although most professionals we have worked with over the years are fascinated by the notion of High Performance and sincerely want and desire to operate at 100%, “on the court” it is an entirely different story.

What are the signs that your coaching relationship may be approaching its end?

The following are the critical “killers” of an effective coaching relationship:

  • Consistent flow of results – One of the indicators of the impact of the coaching is the flow of results or the consistency of results. At any time in the relationship, if the results stop correlating to the coaching it is a sign of a concern to be addressed.
  • Keep the relationship on a professional level – Although you may build an intimate relationship with your coach, do not turn him/her into your best friend. When they become that, they lose the edge and it goes downhill from that point.
  • Mutual respect – When the coach or the person being coached loses their respect for the other, the relationship will no longer be effective and the value will disappear. At times it can cause such a negative effect that there will be a negation of results.
  • Creative structural tension – When the tension in the coaching is compromised, it turns to business as usual, and the rest is history.
  • Excitement and inspiration – As in any relationship, you need to keep it fresh. When the excitement is gone, so is the desire to take action – particularly action that will cause a breakthrough.
  • R.O.C. (Return on Coaching) – Over time, if the results are not exceeding the predictable results or aren’t correlating to your investment, the relationship ceases to be effective. There is even a risk of starting to develop resentment, and the empowering context the two of you are operating in turns to make-wrong.

Managing an effective coaching relationship is more of an art than a science. In my career I have had coaching relationships that lasted more than three years (and it can be effective for that long), but I would say that is the exception.

Sometimes the coaching relationship doesn’t need to come to an end, but it might be time to take a break. Even high performance athletes have a break each season that allows them to rest and recoup in order to be ready for the next season. Knowing when to slow down and take time off is a critical element of high performance. Part of performing at 100% is managing your “speed” or the “pace” and slowing down from time to time.

Or, it may be that is time to complete the current relationship and to select another coach. Either way it is completely fine. You always need to remember that you, the client, have the choice.

With these guidelines, you should be able to assess the life-cycle of your coaching relationship and to anticipate what the potential signs are that it is times to move on or to slow down.


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  • About The Company
    PAAR & Company is a global enterprise that specializes in the impossible. We are in the business of coaching corporate leaders in advancing forward those areas that are making an immediate, relevant and positive impact on their leadership presence and that are highly critical to the sustainability of their enterprise.