Handling the situation where a coaching client or “coachee” contemplates exiting their current employment can be a common challenge for many coaches.

To start, a crucial question the coach should reflect on is the nature of the contract they’ve established with the organisation sponsoring the coaching. Has the potential outcome of a coachee deciding to resign been discussed? Experience has shown that during the coaching journey, many clients realise that their current job or work environment isn’t the right fit, leading them to consider leaving.

Certain companies recognise that retaining unhappy or disengaged employees isn’t beneficial. If a coachee desires a change, it’s often best to facilitate this transition openly and constructively. Occasionally, a coachee’s intention to resign might stem from unaddressed issues or communication gaps within the organisation.

Effective coaching practice creates a space where coachees feel secure enough to express their concerns. This ensures that frustrations are dealt with appropriately, regardless of the final decision. The potential for a client to leave should ideally be a part of the initial contractual agreement. Simultaneously, the sponsoring organisation must respect confidentiality until the coachee decides to disclose their intentions.

Understanding what the coachee has shared with the organisation is key as a coach. Exploring their motivations to leave and identifying what would need to change for them to stay can offer valuable insights.

A coach might feel ethically conflicted if such a scenario was not considered upfront in the contract. It’s best to address this openly with the coachee and encourage them to discuss their situation with the appropriate individuals within the organisation. This feedback could be instrumental in resolving the underlying issues.

Remember, even if the coachee decides to transition to a new role, they might face similar challenges if these stem from unexamined, problematic patterns. Simply changing the external environment doesn’t necessarily address internal issues.

In summary, the situation where a coachee contemplates leaving their job presents a significant challenge to the coach. It’s far from easy to navigate, filled with ethical considerations, potential conflicts, and complex emotions. The coach is tasked with balancing the interests of both the coachee and the sponsoring organisation, a feat requiring utmost professionalism and discernment. The coach must guide the coachee through self-exploration, fostering a nuanced understanding of their motivations and potential consequences while respecting the coachee’s autonomy. This demands high emotional intelligence, patience, and skill. Finally, the coach bears the responsibility to identify and address deep-seated patterns that may cause future problems, which is no small task. In the face of such challenges, the coach’s role becomes critical in steering the situation towards a constructive and beneficial outcome for all parties involved.

Jo Searle

Omnicor’s resident coach supervisor & participating executive coach on the Omnicor Coaching Panel

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joannesearlecoach

Instagram: joanne_searle

Photo by Jamie Templeton on Unsplash