From my Coaching Archives – Agenda or No agenda?

May 1, 2022
Agenda or no agenda

Here is yet another anecdote from my Coaching archives. This one discusses the role of an agenda during the Coaching process.

Agenda or no agenda?

Should a Coaching process work with an agenda or no agenda?

Traditionally, a Coaching process works with an agenda. Any Coaching enquiry begins with a Coaching need expressed by the client. Normally, the first conversation is to establish a connection between the client and the Coach and for the Coach to understand the exact need.

What is the Coaching need?

Many a time, a client is unable to clearly articulate the exact Coaching need. The need could come across as hazy or camouflaged in a deep desire to just do something to ‘change’ the status quo. It is then up to the Coach to provide clarity in this state of confusion.

For those who hate the state of confusion, I would offer them a sliver of hope. I have always believed that confusion is a good thing because it precedes clarity. Actually, clarity flows from confusion.

Coaching Agenda

Once the Coaching need is established, as a Coach, I help the client prepare a Coaching agenda. It is a participatory process. I could create a suggested agenda and get the client’s validation or in some cases, I encourage the client to prepare an agenda and I help in further strengthening it.

Either way, traditionally, a Coaching agenda is what kickstarts a Coaching process.

The picture below shows a sample Coaching agenda for a client who is exploring future career options:

Advantages of having a Coaching agenda:

  • provides a structure to the Coaching conversation – deviations from the agenda can be avoided
  • both the client and the Coach can prepare for the upcoming Coaching session
  • it is easy to evaluate progress if there is an agenda

Having said that, I encourage my clients to keep the agenda flexible to accommodate any changes that evolve during the different Coaching discussions.

No agenda

However, lately, I have come across cases where the client insists on not having an agenda. Currently, I am working with 3 such clients.

These clients want to have a conversation with me, share their current challenges or opportunities with me, and seek my perspectives. They seem to be dealing with issues across a range of different subjects. This situation does not seem to augur well for working with an agenda, howsoever flexible.

The Coaching sessions in such cases also play out quite differently. All my clients come well prepared with their topics for the upcoming session. During the Coaching sessions, we end up discussing disparate – and often seemingly unrelated – topics. By their own admission, they are dealing with a very fluid situation, and having an open format – i.e. without an agenda – seems to help.

Further reading: Click here to read my post, ‘Don’t wait! Initiate that Change NOW’!

Non-conformity is fine!

Life is so dynamic that sometimes it defies conformity to established norms, conventions, or rules. By the way, I have never believed in being trapped by rules. While Coaches would swear by the need for a Coaching agenda, I believe that we need to outgrow such conventions and rules where warranted.  We need to adopt a solution that best addresses the situation.

As Coaches, we are expected to ‘stay with the client’. The client’s mandate is supreme.

We are committed to serving our clients.

Agenda or no agenda.


What about you? May I help you with your challenges and/or opportunities? Reach out to me at [email protected].

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