You could be a brand-new coach. You could have years of experience under your belt.
No matter where you are in your journey, there’s no escaping it…
You’re going to make mistakes.
The good news is most coaching pitfalls are trivial. You can learn from them and move on without missing a beat.
But there are mistakes that are not so easy to overcome…
Seemingly insignificant mistakes can take you way off track from your goals and cost you a ton of time, energy, and money.
Here are 3 deceptively “minor” coaching pitfalls that could permanently damage your reputation and your coaching practice.
Mistake #1: Jumping the Client-Friend Line
When you jump back and forth across the “client-friend” line, you’re playing with fire and you’re going to get burned.
When you become friends with a client, the coach-client boundary gets hazy and unclear.
Your clients will find it challenging and confusing to work with a coach who switches between roles. And when they have insider information about your personal breakdowns, fears, self-doubt or angry outbursts, it destroys your credibility and breaks their trust.
Here’s what I mean…
Let’s say you’re a life coach and you’re helping a client get through a difficult divorce.
Your client is unlikely to follow through on your advice about staying centered and calm because you shared – during a friendly chat outside your coaching session – that you threw your ex-husband out of the house in a fit of rage.
So, do yourself a big favor.
If you notice you’re sharing your problems or reaching out and connecting with your clients or messaging them “just to chat,” stop doing it.
Your client is your client. Your client is not your friend – or worse – a romantic interest.
And this rule cuts both ways.
If you find your client attempting to cross over into friendship territory, have an honest talk and explain exactly why that’s a bad idea.
As a coach, your key role – your only role – is to support your client to achieve their goals.
Be giving. Be loving. Be sincere.
But be professional.
Allowing yourself to get too close to your client can lead to hurt feelings and misunderstandings that can destroy your reputation.
Mistake #2: Being Unclear About Expectations
Never play fast and loose when it comes to expectations.
Always be crystal clear on what the client can expect from your coaching sessions or program.
This is not just about the results they can look forward to, but the expectations around the entire coaching process and how your time together will unfold.
Make sure you let them know exactly what they’ve signed up for. Tell them what you will do and what you won’t do. Talk about time limits and other boundaries such as whether you’ll take calls on weekends.
Be specific about the actions they need to take to get the most out of the coaching relationship.
And when the client understands and agrees, include all of this in a written agreement or contract.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth the time and effort.
These details can make the difference between an angry, unhappy client who’ll tell everyone you’re the worst coach ever…
And a client who receives massive benefits from your coaching style and methods.
Setting clear expectations with your client from the start is an effective way to protect your reputation and create a great experience for both you and your client.
Mistake #3: Doing The Work for Them
Yes, you’re an amazing coach. Yes, you want your clients to achieve their goals and dreams…
But understand this…
You are human. You have limits.
And you can’t do the work for your clients.
You can’t create success for them. You can’t change for them. You can’t adopt new, positive habits for them.
Coaching is about guiding, supporting and empowering your clients with the right tools and techniques so they can do what they need to do for themselves.
This means you must do your best as a coach…and then let go. It’s ultimately up to your clients to create the life they want.
It’s not up to you.
You are not responsible for your client’s results. You are responsible for equipping them with the ability to create results for themselves.
If you don’t have a clear idea on where your work as a coach ends and where the client’s work begins, you’ll beat yourself up every time a client fails to achieve an outcome.
This will seriously block your ability to coach with confidence.
These are some of the biggest mistakes coaches make.
They don’t seem like a big deal but the consequences and fallout are extremely destructive.
So, make sure you avoid these “minor” coaching pitfalls.
When you do, you’ll protect your reputation as a trusted coach and establish your expertise in your field.