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Are you committed to change?

In an interview I was asked, “as a business coach, how do I get commitment from clients?”

            I gain commitment by influencing and persuading clients about several objectives and by having them buy into the process. I have a plethora of methods. As I said earlier, every client is unique. I figure out what works for each individual one. I do have one client in particular, and even though her company is no longer keeping me on retainer, she still emails me weekly. I had this company for about eight years, and due to a reshifting of their priorities, my services were put on hold. Even though I’m no longer on retainer, this individual still emails me every Friday with her successes for the week and a quick note about the lessons she’s learned that week.

I had just started working with her prior to the budget cuts, so we really wanted to keep this going. We established a spirit of cooperation and cohesion for goal achievement. I couldn’t let her go because I saw how much she wanted to change. The method I used with her was for her to write an “accountability” every week of what her goals were, what she’d accomplished, and what lessons she’d learned.

I inquire which methods my clients have previously used or considered using and what they want to accomplish in using those resources. In the process of questioning them, I validate and acknowledge their desire to learn more, to do things more efficiently, and to help themselves. I then help them identify which resources will best address their needs, taking into consider ease of use and cost-effectiveness. Once we establish that I’m listening to them, understanding their needs, and looking at what’s best suited for them based on where they are, then they’re ready to make the time commitment to learn and incorporate these new methodologies into their work practices.

I have heard lots of speakers over the years and recently have been on calls with Michael Bernoff. He talks about asking people to commit to the time they schedule with you. I learned from him that just using the words, “Do I have your commitment that you will accomplish such and such?” has a strong emotional affect for people. They hear commitment and know they need to show up. 

Also, I have found that if a client isn’t committed to keeping appointments, I have to fire them. I guarantee my clients that I can help them and if they are not willing to commit to the work or systems that we define are best for them, then I tell them that they are setting me up to fail in helping them. If that’s the case, then either they get on board and become accountable or we work together to get them help elsewhere. Sometimes, they are just not ready, and I let them go with love.  

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