Guest Blog: Are your clients actually ready for coaching? (2010/11)

Original Article: ReciproCoach Research – November 2010


When I first sat down to read the research paper for this month’s issue of Coaching Research in Practice, I was tempted to write just one sentence in this email:

“Here’s the link – just go and read it!”

Research into clients’ readiness for coaching has been long overdue and Ines Kretzschmar (Exploring Clients’ Readiness for Coaching, International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, Special Issue No.4, October, 2010) has written a paper that’s full of insight and reader-friendly!


Through eighteen semi-structured face-to-face interviews and nine email interviews with coaches, coaching clients and enquirers about coaching, Ines identifies six variables which influence clients’ readiness for coaching. Ines presents these variables as layers, which potential clients pass through in order to take on coaching. Notably, some layers represent an impasse for some potential clients who do not convert to become coaching clients, but if all layers are ‘transcendable’, a client may be deemed “ready”. Here they are:

  • A potential client’s culture and class affects the degree to which they are exposed to coaching opportunities. In addition, culture and class appear to suggest that some potential clients may lack some of the skills needed for coaching, e.g. self-awareness and responsibility.
  • A potential client’s knowledge about coaching, that is, how much they have heard and know about coaching affects their readiness.
  • A potential client’s access to coaching affects their readiness. This includes factors such as time, cost and client selection. Of these, cost was named as the biggest barrier to coaching.
  • The “psychological interpretations” ( p.11) of a potential client, otherwise explained as clients being “ready in themselves” (p.11), affects client readiness. In particular, this research suggest that clients who are open, willing to look “deep inside” (p.11) themselves, who have a healthy self-esteem and positive attitude and who have the ability to take feedback and reflect and are emotionally stable, are more “ready”.
  • A client demonstrates more readiness for coaching when they feel safe . In this study, safeness was affected by the coach-client relationship, and also by the support of the people around a client e.g. their partner, family, friends and workplace.
  • When clients have a commitment to change, their readiness is enhanced. A commitment to change is indicated when the client “has a clear reason to engage in the coaching in the first place” (p.13), as well as commitment and responsibility to make the change.


Ines has included a questionnaire for “Exploring Client’s Readiness for Coaching” on pages 14 and 15 of her paper. If you really want to ensure that your clients are actually ready for coaching, I’d recommend you print off the questionnaire and consider it before your next client intake. Here’s the link again, in case you missed it the first time. In addition, keep in mind these essentials:

  • Be able to explain, succinctly and scientifically, what coaching is – it will increase your potential clients’ knowledge of coaching and with that their readiness for coaching.
  • Continually help your clients to become more and more clear on the personal value of coaching and this will support your clients in becoming more and more ready (coaching may begin with a process of developing readiness for it!).
  • By having different ways to deliver coaching, you reduce the barrier that “access” can impose on client readiness.
  • Notice if you are working harder than your clients, as “that should be a warning sign where the client’s readiness for coaching has to be questioned and explored further” (p.13).

Translating coaching research into coaching practice,

Dr Kerryn Griffiths
Global ReciproCoach Coordinator

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