Coachee not completing actions

I’m coaching someone who consistently fails to complete actions agreed in our coaching sessions. How do I help them progress?

This is a common anxiety for coaches and there are a number of angles to consider.  First of all does the person want to be there, and have they really understood what coaching is all about?  You can’t coach someone who has been “sent” and merely goes through the motions to please their boss.

Clear contracting up front is essential to manage expectations and lay solid foundations for the work you will do together and both players have roles.  The coach manages the process and uses their skills and intuition.  The coachee brings the agenda and commits to change.  It is a purposeful and outcome focussed conversation and the coach supports and challenges the person to make changes, but accepting that change might take the form of getting some new insight or learning about a situation, and/or taking action and behaving differently. It could be that the person you are coaching is indeed thinking differently or still “trying on” the change and working it through internally before committing.

Finally it could be that the agreed actions are not really the most useful or helpful for this person.  There is huge richness in unpacking the reasons why the coachee didn’t undertake their actions.  Please do this in a spirit of curiosity rather than in a judgemental way and challenge and offer feedback if appropriate.  Typically organisations are sponsoring the coaching, and regardless of whether it is delivered internally or externally, it is important to discuss how coaching is adding value not only to the coachee, but also to the wider organisation.