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Coaching Skills - Contracting

3 Sept 2020
Roz Williams profile photo
By Roz Williams

The ability to contract effectively is a core competency for practising business coaches. Establishing a coaching contract is essential at the beginning of a coaching relationship, but it should also be revisited throughout the ongoing coaching sessions.


A coaching contract may be relatively simple and informal or, depending on the number of stakeholders, may be more complex and formal. Either way, here are 5 key elements that should form part of the coaching contract:

1. Understanding of coaching - it is crucial to establish what the coachee's understanding and expectations of coaching are. Do they understand that coaching is a partnership, that works to their agenda? Do they know their role & responsibilities and those of their coach? When understanding is glossed over or skipped entirely, it can lead to unfulfillment and disappointment in the intervention.

2. Confidentiality - is critical! Agreement of confidentiality boundaries is essential at the start of the coaching relationship. What will be disclosed, to whom and under what conditions? Adopting a high code of ethics will help create boundaries and avoid conflicts.

3. The mechanics - it sounds simple, but agreeing on the general process for the coaching intervention can create comfort for the coachee. How many sessions will there be? When, where and how will they take place? If appropriate, how will payment be made? Will there be the opportunity for contact in-between sessions?

4. Coaching Tools - there are a range of tools that a coach might choose to use in a coaching intervention. These might include personality profiles, 360 feedback or stakeholder interviews. Addressing the use of these tools at the start will ensure that the coachee understands that each session may be different and include different elements.

5. Feedback & Challenge - it is vital that the coachee understands that good coaching is not just a comfy chat. There is likely to be challenge and feedback. Discussing this as part of the coaching contract will enable the coachee to determine how much challenge they are happy to accept, how to monitor progress & how the coach and coachee will receive feedback.

Contracting well allows shared responsibility for the coaching intervention. By spending time on contracting at the beginning & throughout your sessions, you will be setting your coachee up for success!