How do you manage client expectations when you're a coach?
I used to believe that: “My clients transformation is 100% my responsibility.”
In fact, when I first started coaching, I experienced extreme anxiety.
I was giving my clients everything. I gave them my best tools, asked my best questions and was there for them 24 hours a day. And still I would have clients coming on call telling me that they hadn’t done what they said they were gonna do for the week and they still felt confused and overwhelmed.
I wanted to cry.
Because I was so insecure, I made it all about me. I decided that maybe I wasn’t a good enough coach and that I was a total fraud. I decided that they must hate me and think I’m a charlatan too. And I tied myself up in knots thinking I would never get good testimonials. My boyfriend was seriously worried about me. He would hold me at night as I had nightmares.
And then one conversation with my own coach changed everything for me. I could finally breathe.
She told me: ‘manage their expectations.’
And here’s how I now do just that in 3 steps:
1. Explain what coaching is and what it isn’t.
This is what part of what I send to my prospective clients when they first request to work with me:
“Most coaches these days offer a hybrid of coaching and mentorship. Coaching is the skillful art of helping you dig deep and awaken to the magnitude of what's truly possible for you. A mentor is someone who will share with you the experience, knowledge and expertise that you don't yet have, so that you can make better informed choices when it comes to your business.
A good coach will be able to help you dig deep to find the best possible way forward for you. Having the right business coach is a bit like having a business partner. A good coach will cheer you on, powerfully coach you, keep you on track, be direct and honest, and offer critical feedback. They are not there to give you all the answers. Nor will an authentic coach promise you any tangible results - 10k months are of course possible (10k months are now my norm), but anyone who is promising you anything like that in a short space of time is, in my opinion, not credible. Building a sustainable and profitable business takes as long as it takes. You only fail if you give up.”
2. Set boundaries
Let your clients know that your job is to guide them, advise them and hold them accountable, but you can’t do the work for them.
If they don’t do the work, they won’t get the results.
3. Always call out the elephant in the room
You do not need your clients to like you and you don't need to please them – calling them out if they’re making excuses for themselves is a powerful way to serve them and help them create deep transformation in their lives.
Be fearless in your coaching and you’ll help them and yourself.
Your clients that do the work will get the results. It’s not all on you.
Of course, make sure you give your best, create conscientious programs and keep developing your coaching skills and building upon your expertise, but honestly, the most empowering thing you can do is encourage your clients to take 100% responsibility for their lives.