Setting The Foundation: Establishing The Coaching Agreement

Our Decoding The Coaching Genome course accelerates your coaching skills with an in-depth look at the Core Competencies of coaching and is accredited with 21 CCEU by the ICF. In this post we explore the second Core Coaching Competency: Co-creating the Relationship and establishing the Coaching Agreement so that you and your client are set for success.

The coaching agreement is the written understanding between you and your client about the appropriate expectations that each of you has of each other in your coaching relationship. Given that coaching is neither therapy nor consultation, making that clear in the coaching agreement will create the proper expectations for coaching.

Why Establish a Coaching Agreement?

The main purpose of coaching is to create and manage change. Inevitably, feelings are involved in the process as well as a minimal amount of advice when the coach deems it necessary for the client’s welfare. Despite the fact that coaching can use some of the tools of each of these professions it’s especially important that the coaching agreement define exactly the limits of your coaching relationship.

Other expectations have to do with logistics (where and how often you will meet, amount charged for each session, absence policy, etc.) Making all of these things clear at the beginning of your working relationship will save suffering on both of your parts later on.

What Does The Agreement Tell You?

Negotiating the coaching agreement will give you a fair amount of information about both your client and you. Is your client able to ask for what they need and want in the relationship? Are you able to do the same? Does your client push the boundaries as much as possible? How does that impact you? Do you hold your boundary or do give in? What assumptions are you making about your client based upon your discussion of the coaching agreement. Pay attention! The client will often reveal more of him or herself than they realize in this particular conversation. And so will you!

Negotiating the client agreement is the first chance that a client has to influence their coach. Whether they are aware of it or not, they are testing the situation for safety, understanding and flexibility. Likewise it is your first chance as a coach to hold to what is necessary for you to be the best coach that you can be for your client.

Defining Your Coaching Relationship

Establishing the Coaching Agreement is also another way of describing the purpose of the unique coaching relationship that you are entering into with your client. As was mentioned above, the purpose of all coaching relationships is to create and manage change. Beyond that, the purpose of this particular coaching relationship with this particular client is for both of you to become increasingly conscious of the impact that you have in both your professional and personal relationships. Through increasing one’s awareness, practicing new behaviours and processing new understandings, the coaching relationship becomes a unique laboratory for both growth and change.


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About the Author:

Judith has been following her calling for the past 33 years, originally as a licensed psychotherapist and then for the past 20 years as Co-Active Coach. After training her, CTI (The Coaches Training Institute) invited Judith to become a faculty member in 1996. She received her Master Certified Coach certificate through the International Coach Federation in 1999. Judith currently is a Senior Faculty member at CTI as well the principal of her own international coaching practice.

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