Without a clear contract in place, the relationship between coach and coachee is on thin ice. Does that sound too strong? Imagine taking on a new supplier without deciding on what services they will provide and when. Or taking on a new client without agreeing a fee and when it’s payable; neither party would know where they stand and the relationship would not be productive. A coaching contract sets out what the coachee can expect from the coach and vice versa.
A contract outlines goals, boundaries, and does so from the off. Whether it’s a five-minute conversation, an hour-long meeting or a written document, contracting is key to a successful coaching partnership.
Reasons to invest time in contracting
It’s tempting for both parties to get stuck in without thinking about the process, or the end goal. Investing some time in contracting delivers the following benefits:
- Better chance of reaching objectives:adult learningprinciples state that in order for people to be committed to their learning and development, they need to feel they have some kind of control over it. Defining a plan together means the coachee is involved intellectually, emotionally attached, and likely to see it through.
- Greater trust:In order for a coachee to speak openly and honestly with their coach they must absolutely trust that the information they give will not only be treated confidentially, but with empathy, sensitivity and respect. Contracting enables this trust to be built before the coaching begins.
- Better chemistry:it’s typical for chemistry meetings to confirm whether coach and coachee have a good feel for one another. This is a great indicator that the partnership will work well. Contracting takes it up a gear. It means both can get a better understanding of each other, enhancing rapport and smoothing the practicalities of working together.
- Smaller chance of conflict:contracting means fewer conflicts and a more harmonious working relationship. Understanding how someone else works, what they value, and what they dislike means you understand why they may do something differently to how you would. The chances of frustration creeping in are therefore much smaller.
- Effective working relationship:contracting generates a deep understanding of one another, which leads to better, longer-lasting relationships.
What the coaching contract must cover
Contracting is important; so, what should a coaching contract include? Here are our suggestions:
- Time – precious to all of us, respecting each other’s time will create a good working relationship. Define how long you’ll meet for, how often, and by when you want to have achieved your goal.
- Location– this requires thought upfront, rather than the location where coaching takes place being treated as an afterthought. Ask yourself, where will you be free of distractions able to speak frankly, and to think clearly? What is the most stimulating environment for you?
- What will assist the coaching?Discuss and define how you as a coach may help, and how you might impede progress.
- Motivations: managing one another– the contracting part is a great time to start bringing in some self-awareness in the coachee, and also in the coach. Define how the coachee might stand in their own way, and what the coach can do to help and support if that happens.
- Feedback– what’s the best way for the coach to provide feedback? What might have a negative effect? It may also be useful to discuss how the coachee can provide feedback to the coach, and if there will be opportunities to do so throughout the process.
- Things to be aware of– do you have any good or bad habits that might come into play?
- What needs to be shared– set out what information needs to be shared at the beginning. This goes both ways. Also, define what doesn’t need to be shared. That way, there are no nasty surprises and neither party will unwittingly withhold information that might be key to the coaching relationship.
A strong start makes for a lasting impact
The relationship between coach and coachee is often the birthplace of clarity, of change and development. Of course, that depends on how the coaching is handled and set up in the beginning: that includes setting expectations and creating boundaries. Contracting is a brilliant opportunity to do that. If it’s missed out or hastily thought through, the effects are bound to be felt down the line.
For a glimpse into the process of coaching with Farscape, our video provides some insight. Are you in need of coaching, or is there someone in your organisation who is? Call us on 0117 370 1800, we’d welcome the opportunity of a conversation.