Professional coaching is grounded in effective agreements that lead to a true partnership between coach and client. This is key to ensure that the work that we do is always focused on the client and in line with their goals, wishes and development.
There are a number of different agreements that we can make in a coaching session and this post explores the main ones.
Agreements before the programme starts
Great coaches start making agreements with clients before the start of a coaching programme. This usually happens during a discovery call or a chemistry meeting. At this point the coach makes agreements with the client in relation to how they might work together.
Of course there are logistical agreements (when the meetings happen, how often, where…) but this goes beyond that. At this stage a coach partners with the client to agree on how the client might want to get coached, agreement on what the meaning of coaching is, and the role of a coach.
As part of this the coach and client agree on their respective roles and how together they can make the coaching programme successful. This usually ends with an agreement to proceed or not (that can happen during the discovery call or later).
Written Agreements including Terms and Conditions
Once there is an agreement to go ahead with the coaching the coach would usually send through some documentation to set the more formal parts of the contracting process. These terms typically include the coach’s rate, the number of coaching sessions, the role of the coach and responsibilities of the client. ICF coaches would also send through a Consent Form to ensure that they can keep this documentation stored in line with Data Protection laws.
Coaching Agreements at the Start of Session 1
The first session with a client provides an opportunities to go even more deeper in some of the agreements that focus specifically on the ‘doing’ of the coaching. For example, at the start of the first session the coach would set agreements on confidentiality, the way the client might want to be coached, stopping the coaching programme and data protection for example.
Coaching Agreements at the Start of any Session
The start of a session allows the coach to make some agreements about the client’s goals and expectations from the session. The coach might seek agreements about the overall coaching goal that the client might wish to focus on. What would the client work on? Agreements can also be made in relations to what the client wants to focus on in the session. What would the client like to achieve?
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Coaching Agreements During the Session
There are a number of points in the session itself where a coach might want to contract with the client. For example, a coach might notice how a client could be digressing and moving off topic. The coach engage into a question to check with the client if they wish to pursue this new line of thinking or go back to the original topic.
Another type of agreement that happens during the session is through permission questions. A coach might ask permission and seek agreement from the client to go ahead before asking a tricky or challenging question.
Another example of this is when the coach seeks agreement from the client that it’s okay to provide them with objective feedback.
Coaching Agreements to Close the Session
One aspect that sometimes coaches forget to do, or might rush into, is seeking agreements at the end in relation to closing the session. For example a coach might remind the client that there’s 10 minutes left in the session and invite them to decide how they would like to close the session. This partnering is key to make suer that the client is involved at all points in the session.