How Long Should a Coaching Partnership Last?

How long should a coaching partnership last? I’ve been coaching someone for about nine months and we seem to have run out of specific issues.

Because people are so uniquely different, as are their situations and the nature of the support they require, it is difficult to be precise.  A one-off coaching session might suffice and you may also have enduring coaching relationships with the same person on and off over a number of years.  One of the funniest phone calls I had was from a client who began with, “Hello Sandra, is three years too long between sessions?”  In reality we had worked together over several months and he had then gone away, been promoted, changed his role significantly over the years and was now looking to re-engage, and work on a completely new set of challenges.

Often coaches will contract for four to six sessions in a block assignment, typically around a month apart.  This is a useful timescale to build a strong and psychologically safe relationship, work to get to the heart of the clients agenda and make tangible progress.  It also allows the coach and client to review after a few sessions and build in strategies for on-going sustainability after the coaching has finished.  Coaching should never be about fostering dependency.

If the coaching comes to a natural conclusion, looses that sense of purposeful engagement and the agenda is exhausted…..then it is exhausted.  Don’t resort to filling the space with chat.  If you are at this place with your client then suggest a final session to review progress and learning, celebrate success and explore how they will continue to sustain progress.