Why is contracting with a new enterprise client so crucial?

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Why is contracting with a new enterprise client so crucial?

by Lucia Baldelli

David Clutterback and Eve Turner conducted a research in 2019 involving about 150 Coaches and their Supervisors. The research proved that about half of the issues brought by Business Coaches to their Supervisors was related in some way to the original contracting with their enterprise clients. Even more interestingly, involved Coaches thought the percentage to be lower, only one third!!!

What does effective contracting mean in an enterprise coaching engagement?

The coaching contract between coach and client is an agreement that:

  • clarifies roles and responsibilities
  • defines the focus of the coaching work
  • clarifies the measurable outcomes of a successful relationship
  • defines how we will handle confidentiality
  • defines how we want to be together to create an effective collaboration.

In essence, we create alignment on the goal of the coaching engagement and we agree how we know that we have achieved that goal with some measurable outcomes, so it is clear when we get there.

What are the traps of not creating an effective coaching agreement?

If creating a coaching agreement is not part of your coaching practice, maybe you will find yourself falling into one – or more – of these traps.

  • During the engagement there are misunderstandings about your role:
    • do they need a coach, a mentor, a trainer, a facilitator, a consultant, someone to implement a framework, or – as I was asked in an interview, before I run away – someone to “fix a team”? :O
    • what will you say you will do or refuse to do?
  • There is not enough time – your client is busy – and you skip contracting:
    • how will you know you are making an impact?
    • how will they know the value of your work?
  • Outcomes are not clear or not measurable:
    • how do we eliminate the risk of misunderstanding about our work being successfully completed?
    • how do we track progress?
  • Different stakeholders have different ideas about outcomes:
    • how do we make sure stakeholders have a shared vision?
    • how do we create stakeholders alignment about the work you are going to do?
  • Team members not aware of the new coach and not willing to be coached:
    • what do teams know about the work you are going to do with them or it will sound as a surprise?
    • who gives you the authority to work with those teams?
  • Individual vs systems client-coach relationships:
    • how will you handle coaching a team and individuals within that team?
    • how will you let them know this is happening?
  • Lack of clarity on stakeholders involved and/or other influencing factors:
    • who has a stake in the team’s work?
    • what are the impediments to the team’s success?

Not easy at all, but essential to create good ground for a successful collaboration.

The bottom line is: do not start doing any work before you know where you are heading!

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