Co-Creating a Great Career Coach Client Relationship

Creating a Great Career Coach Client Relationship - Career Coach Certification OnlineThis is Article #2 in our New Series: The “Must Knows” of Career Coaching – Core Competencies

By Diane Hudson Burns, CPCC, CPRW, CEIP


After setting the foundation and establishing a coaching agreement, and even during that phase, it is important to establish trust and intimacy with a client and introduce the coaching presence.

Relationship building is a skill that comes easy for some, and is challenging for others. However, this skill is necessary in coaching. A client that does not feel comfortable with his coach, may not move through a coaching program with progress. He may be reluctant to share important information about goals and plans.

Co-creative interactions pool the collective energy of the client and the coach in focusing on the client’s experience throughout the coaching sessions. Together, the coach and client will move the client to meet goals and identify values, leading to completing a targeted career management plan, conducting a job search, planning a promotion, or meeting other career goals. The coach provides questions and opportunities for the client to identify needs, wants, values, motivations, and actually determine a career plan.

Co-creative interactions are about engaging the client and expanding collaborative research, and the generation of ideas and opportunities for the client. Collaboration is relatively easy to define as the art of working together effectively and productively, according to David Dotlich, author of Action Coaching. He further states in his book that, commitment, passion, energy, and creativity flow from collaboration. Thus, as career coaches, our goal is to foster a sense of collaboration that releases positive traits and heightens self-awareness for our clients.

Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client

The definition of trust is (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed.” Trust is a tall order. Clients of career coaches place their confidence in the coach to help them find jobs, develop succession plans, gain promotions, and attain quality of life. Our job is to provide our clients with the tools needed to design a career management plan or otherwise meet their other career goals. It is the client’s job to make decisions, think and brainstorm, and follow through on assignments.

Coaching Presence

Your coaching presence is identifiable. Your clients will know if you are distracted, agitated, focused on them, or not, or happy, content, and prepared. Your ability to share, be open, and transparent with your clients will help them feel comfortable.

Your clients will look to you as the confident lead, listening and speaking to them without any bias. Ask your clients if you may talk about sensitive or new topics that may have been introduced in a session. This approach shows sensitivity on your part and expresses to the client that you were paying close attention to the discussion, and what the client had to say.

Flexibility and Adaptability
Coaching can shift gears at a moment’s notice. Goals may seem contradictory, issues may have blurry lines, and you may have planned to talk about resume development at the next session, only to find that the client has an interview the day after the next session.

The ability to be flexible, adapt to the client’s needs, and “shift gears” solidifies your coaching presence as one who allows the client to present the agenda.


A positive coaching presence is respectful and encouraging. Everyone wants to feel respected, empowered, and motivated. Showing respect includes asking about progress, and listening carefully when a client is sharing an unpleasant story.

Coach – Client Relationship

The coach-client relationship is positive-energy and forward-thinking. This co-creative interaction is a two-person think tank with endless opportunities to propel a career coaching client forward in his career. Setting the foundation and introducing your unique coaching presence will help to build trust and set the stage for successful coaching sessions.

Feel free to make comments below or contact me with any questions!

Wishing You Success,


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