Updated: Sep 16
This is in continuation of the series on spreading awareness over the coaching process. The target audience aimed in this articles are hence predominantly clients and organizations. In this article we discuss some essential fundamentals of the coaching contract. One of the key ingredients of the coaching relation is the contracting ,and its one of the most important component of the coaching process.
What is a contract ?
A contract is a legally enforceable agreement that creates, defines, and governs mutual rights and obligations among its parties. A contract typically involves the transfer of goods, services, money, or a promise to transfer any of those at a future date.( Wikipedia).
As per International Coaching Federation (ICF) which is the gold standards of coaching this process of contract comes under the co-creating of relationship competency which defines the contract in following manner :Establishes and Maintains Agreements Definition: Partners with the client and relevant stakeholders to create clear agreements about the coaching relationship, process, plans and goals. Establishes agreements for the overall coaching engagement as well as those for each coaching session.
A coaching agreement is a legal document used when someone wants to hire a coach. A coaching agreement establishes the terms and conditions for the relationship and outlines the obligations and responsibilities of both parties for the service.
Key ingredients of a contract based on ICF competencies are :
The coaching relationship.
Defines responsibility of coach and client
The contract defines boundaries between coaching and other forms of support like therapy and mentoring etc.
Services to be rendered and procedure.
Schedule of coaching and goals .
Financials and Terms & Conditions.
Cancellation policy, liabilities and disputes.
Mutual signatures and affirmations -disclaimers if any.
Value add services like assessments and psychometry
Practical aspects requiring attention during contract
Contracting is an important process and besides giving a legal framework the function of a contract is multifold. Some aspects are elucidated below:-
Explain the contract to the client : Nuances and confidentiality terms need to be known to the client to include disposal of material ,privacy and safety. This needs to be explained by the coach separately in a session .This is time commitment well deserved. A contract which is rushed up as a mere document could end up in problems at a later stage .
Establish realistic goals : Goals have to be SMART ( Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound).What comes as a obstacle to this process could be , over enthusiasm , eagerness to contract, goals not internalized, the need to please the other party , the need for achievement and quick results, are some examples of hard emotions which requires to be at bay from both parties.
Financials : Coaching is a profession which is also akin to teaching and education and a service sector with immense responsibility and ethics. The benefits are long term and cant be measured quickly ,hence the partnership should evaluate the contract with pragmatism and mutual benefit without getting sunk too much into the the cost benefit analytics. A bargaining conversation which is long with numerous iterations could potentially lead to lack of trust and a weak contract.
Flexible : Although the contract has strict time lines and measurable yet a flexible contract is one which gives space and room for transitions .This is best worked mutually between the coach and the client.
Therapy and related services: At any stage if the coach feels the client requires therapy the contract will need to be suitably amended before recommendation for therapy. Its important for the client and coach to make up and assess the situation with some extra emphasis during goal setting stage or during a discovery meeting and if the goals are dwelling too much into past or may involve physical or emotional stress and trauma, in such cases a clear conversation on therapy is essential.
The coaching contract though is a legal document yet the essence of the document lies in mutual trust ,safety and commitment the document lends to the coach and the client. A contract is more of a document which enables complete commitment of trust and focus between both parties. Its a cognitive yet emotional bond which motivates and creates energy for the goals to be pursued. An ill prepared contract will fizzle out the commitment and the drive in the coaching process. The importance of preparing a elaborate contract is hence legal and emotional both, , and prevails over the time and energy costs of the coach and the client.
In the next article I will try to dwell on the key aspects of the coaching process itself covering that happens during sessions.
I would love to hear comments ,experience and inputs from the readers.