The first 3 months of a coaching relationship is typically the most transformative time of the relationship. After that first 3 months, the initial excitement and sometimes motivation can begin to wear off.
As coaches, it’s critical that we don’t allow motivation to tank, or else, the transformation process will wane, followed by goals being left unfinished, and, ultimately, the coaching relationship getting terminated prematurely.
Coaches who retain clients for the full life of the relationship are those that have mastered the art of motivation.
Maintaining the motivation of a client is the 6th secret to retaining a client.
But how do you do that?
Here are 5 things you need to focus on in order to keep a client passionate about their process:
Big goals are more motivational than small goals.
You might think that small goals are less scary and present less of an obstacle to enthusiasm, but, in reality, the opposite is true.
What kinds of things keep you up at night?
What kinds of things are on your mind when you first awaken in the morning?
Are they small things or big things?
Small goals don’t get your adrenaline pumping. If you’re going to take the time, get outside of your comfort zone, enlist the support of a coach, spend your hard-earned money, it better be something that adds real benefit and value to you.
Big goals require massive effort, and they bring the heart, the mind, and even the physical body into action.
Don’t allow your client to settle for less.
Don’t get scared if your client wants to set a goal that they may not reach.
Yes, we want our clients to set goals that are attainable, but we don’t want our clients to set goals where the bar is so low that they don’t even need our support.
When clients are setting goals, make sure you get the client’s perception on how big their goals really are. If they are too small, push them to go after something greater.
Mix in some short-term, smaller goals.
Often big goals take a while to achieve.
In my own personal coaching practice, many of my clients have been entrepreneurs.
For most businesses, the process is pretty straight-forward and linear.
For instance, I’m currently helping about 125 coaches get their businesses launched. Since coaching doesn’t require a lot of overhead expenses and you’re not re-inventing the wheel, a coach can get their business up and going and be instantly profitable within a month or two.
With other businesses that require an office or facility, market research, product prototypes, etc., that process could last a year or more. And the process isn’t linear either. There can be a lot of twists and turns and setbacks.
A client can lose heart waiting on the big payoff which ultimately is the grand opening of their business.
That’s why it’s important that we help our clients set short-term smaller goals along the way so that they are experiencing wins along the way.
It’s your job as a coach to make sure a client feels like they’re winning even if there are setbacks. Set short-term goals so they don’t have to wait 6 months. And make sure you celebrate that success with the client so that they can experience the satisfaction of winning.
Remember: Success and celebration that is delayed can wear on a client’s heart, but ongoing celebration of even small successes can give a client’s heart endurance.
Do your homework on each client and know what motivates them individually.
Before I ever coach a client, I start by doing my homework so that, from day one, I am cultivating a relationship where they will thrive.
You can do this by utilizing a client intake discovery that asks strategic questions like:
What kinds of people motivate you?
What kinds of people de-motivate you?
What kinds of situations bring you to life?
When are you most fully alive?
These kinds of questions give insight on the kinds of relationships that the client needs in order to thrive. It also will tell you a lot about the kinds of environments that shutdown their passion.
We want long-term, maximum sustained effort, so it’s really up to us to create those kinds of environments. The client knows themselves and their history, so they are an amazing resource for this.
For a small investment, you can also get some of this information through personality assessments.
I personally use StrengthsFinder which has greatly helped me hit the ground running with my clients. Through it, I’m able to guide the client into the choices, steps, and places that create the most satisfaction and success while helping them steer clear of the steps that would steal their motivation.
The 5 Love Languages is a great tool that you can use to find a client’s “love language.” Once you know how a client likes to be affirmed, you can leverage that info on an ongoing basis to keep the client engaged. Please note that one of those love languages is “physical touch.” No, I’m not recommending that. However, you can use appropriate touch like a high five, etc.
Encourage. Affirm. Encourage. Repeat Often.
Someone once told me, “No one ever died from encouragement.”
I don’t think you could ever affirm or encouragement someone too much. Don’t wait until the ultimate goal is reached before affirming the client. The client needs to feel like their getting traction and making progress.
According to Michael Pink’s book, Drive, one of the greatest motivators of all human beings is this sense of mastery.
Simply put, humans want to feel like they are growing, improving, developing.
Not all growth is goal-based.
When a client takes an uncharacteristically bold step, highlight it.
If a client is vulnerable with you, thank them.
Recall the fears and the obstacles that a client started with and how they are such a different person 3, 6, 12 months down the road.
Most people are unaware of their own personal growth. A good coach will help provide bookmarks and milestones through affirmation and encouragement.
You can do this through words, but sometimes you can do it through a card in the mail, an email, or a simple text.
Sometimes I’ll just text a client at random and say something like, “You know, I was thinking about you today, and I’m so inspired by…”
Previously in this series, I said, “feedback is the lifeblood of the coaching relationship.” Allow this kind of feedback to be as often as it can be meaningful. Give affirmation and encouragement often, but make sure that it counts and it’s not just perceived as fluff.
Help them connect their goals with purpose.
According to Michael Pink, connecting to a cause larger than yourself that drives the deepest motivation.
We should hope that every goal that our clients are setting connects with a larger purpose, but, unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
If you can help your client connect what they do with purpose, they can maintain motivation even if there are challenges and ups and downs.
Have a plan to cultivate a coaching relationship through these 5 areas and you’ll not only keep your client motivated, but you’ll keep a client!