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June 11, 2018
Often, I get asked the question: “Can I coach friends or family?”
Of course, the simple answer is “Yes…BUT…”
The “but’s” are really about the considerations that most coaches don’t have before entering into a coaching relationship with friends and family.  I find many coaches think it’s safe enough to enter into a coaching relationship with someone they know, and it’s that very familiarity that can cause it to be a less than successful relationship and possibly a regrettable decision.
If you’re strongly considering coaching a friend or  you have a family member that keeps hitting you up for help, I would make sure you follow these 3 rules to make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial:

[ult_cornerbox color=”000000″ backgroundcolor=”FFFFFF” bordercolor=”000000″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”solid” icon=”” ]#1 SET THE EXPECTATION: “When I’m coaching you,  I’m your coach and not your friend (or fill in the blank).”[/ult_cornerbox]

I know that sounds a little harsh, but it needs to be said.  Yes, coaching relationships are notably friendly, engaging conversations.
However, when you have an existing relationship, there is often a degree of familiarity that can threaten the effectiveness of the coaching relationship.
For example, when you’re in a friendly relationship with someone, and they come to you for advice, or they share some sort of plan they’re working on towards their future, accountability isn’t necessarily an expectation in that relationship.
Accountability is one of the many expectations of a coach.  What are you going to do when that family member shows up to their appointment with you, and they haven’t followed through on all their action steps?  A friend might let them slide.  A sibling might give them a pass for the week.
That’s why it’s your job as the coach to set these kinds of expectations.
Make those expectations clear:
“I’m going to push you out of your comfort zone.”
“I’m going to hold you accountable for what you say you really desire.”
“I’m not going to accept excuses.”
I think setting expectations with friends and family members requires you to be clear, straightforward, and even bold in a way that you might never have been with them before.
If you can’t do that prior to the coaching relationship, you’re going to have a really difficult time helping them get the kind of results they want in their lives.

[ult_cornerbox color=”000000″ backgroundcolor=”FFFFFF” bordercolor=”000000″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”solid” icon=”” ]#2 BE SPECIFIC ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS (i.e. tardiness, no-shows, and cancellations)[/ult_cornerbox]

I’ve mentored 100’s of coaches over the years, and I’m really a stickler about including everything that matters in a coaching agreement.  This includes a lot more than defining what coaching is, fees, and confidentiality agreements.
When a coach comes to me and says, “Hey Paul, what do you do when a client no-shows?”
I reply, “Well, what did you say you’d do in your coaching agreement?”
This is the business side of coaching that a lot of new coaches don’t even consider.  I think a lot of people assume when you sign a contract and set a date and a time for you both to show up, that it just happens.
In a perfect world, maybe that happens.  However, the reality is, you should never assume anything.
And if someone does no-show or cancel at the last minute, how do you hold them accountable if it’s not in the coaching agreement?  Honestly, you can’t.
This is a really critical point when it comes to coaching friends and family.
Just last week, I got together with a group of friends doing something we’d planned weeks in advance.  At the last minute, 2 of the guys bailed: one because of work, and the other because another opportunity opened up that he didn’t want to miss out on.
Our little get-together was planned in advance, but it wasn’t really that big of a deal, so they both got a pass.
I wasn’t angry.  It wasn’t personal.  I never even thought twice about it.
And I think that’s pretty typical of our relationships with friends and family.  We’re understanding when things pop-up and plans change.
Let’s say you’re meeting a friend at a restaurant, and you receive a text saying they are going to be 15 minutes late.  It’s not a big deal.
But, when it comes to business, and what you get paid for is your time, then those same friends and family cannot be allowed to flake out.  If we allow them to, we devalue ourselves, while losing real time and money in the process, and they don’t get the change that they say they want in their lives.
That’s why it’s your job as a coach to set the boundaries of the relationship.  Coaching is your vocation.  It’s what you get paid to do, and they need to understand and value that.
Individuals honor their jobs by arriving to work on time, arriving to meetings on time, etc. Human beings have an extraordinary ability to be on time and remember the things in their schedule that matter to themselves.  In the same way, all clients should honor the coaching relationship.
If you coach a friend or a family member, you have to explain, in no uncertain terms:
  • How you deal with clients who no-show
  • How you deal with clients who are late
  • How you deal with re-scheduling appointments
For me personally, my clients know that if they are 15 minutes late, they don’t get 15 minutes more tacked on to the end of the appointment.  If a client no-shows, I still get paid.  And I have zero apologies about telling a friend or a family member that the same policy applies to them.
So be specific about your professional standards as a coach, and spell it out in your coaching agreement.
If you do it like a professional, then there are no questions if there’s a failure on the part of your client.
And, most importantly, it’s not personal between you and your friends or family who become clients, because that’s how you deal with all your clients.

[ult_cornerbox color=”000000″ backgroundcolor=”FFFFFF” bordercolor=”000000″ borderwidth=”1″ borderstyle=”solid” icon=”” ]#3 THERE ARE NO FRIEND & FAMILY DISCOUNTS[/ult_cornerbox]

I tell coaches all the time:


I’ve made it a rule that if I do use a friend or a family member for a service,  I’m going to pay them full-price.  I think it’s terrible to have an expectation that someone close to you should not get paid their full fee.
After all, if we value them as a person as well as their craft, then why wouldn’t we want to invest in them?
Have you ever noticed those discounted projects and services that you get from friends and family never get finished or simply get forgotten?
There are 2 reasons for this:
1) We haven’t valued the individual nor their craft.
2) Their priority has to be on what puts food on the table.
Furthermore, if someone is doing work for me, I don’t want them to ever feel like they’re losing money, specifically, if working on my project is taking them away from their customers that enable them to feed their family.
I realize this one might be a little scary for you, but this is all about setting boundaries to work with people who really value you and what kind of transformation your coaching can bring.  If you will set these 3 rules in place, I promise you will have satisfying coaching relationships with the friends and family that you choose to coach.


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Have a great week!

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