“Give me but a firm spot on which to stand and I will move the earth”- Archimedes
Come on, be honest – when was the last time you looked at you coaching contracts or agreements? Weeks, months or years ago? The probability is that you are using the same document that you created when you began your coaching or mentoring career.
If that is the case, take a moment to reflect – can you think about anything, especially anything successful, that has remained unchanged for more than 18 months to 2 years? Similarly, think about what changes have taken place within your own coaching or mentoring practice, your clients, your sponsors, your “market” area and finally yourself? Have your contracts or agreements kept pace with those changes?
This topic arose in a recent group supervision discussion, and an interesting reflection for me was the irony that as coaches and mentors we are committed to assisting our clients to create changes to generate growth and improvement, yet we may unconsciously be persisting with processes or aspects of our practice that remain unchanged.
The discussion also highlighted another important consideration, that we may not be fully conscious of when we started out as coaches or mentors- ensuring that the contract or agreement that we use consider the interests and needs of ourselves as coach or mentor, as well as the interests and needs of the client and the interests and needs of the sponsor.
“The beginning of wisdom is to define” – Aristotle
My own practice is to capture the various parties involved – and make a conscious decision to specifically ensure that I include “coach” as one of the interested parties and capture the things that are important for that role. These are usually what I would describe as expectation setting – what the client can expect of me as coach or mentor, and what I expect of coachee or mentee.
Taking the challenge of reviewing my own contracting approach, although I create “bespoke” contracts with each sponsor and “bespoke” agreements with each individual coachee or mentee, I realise that the contents fall into three broad categories: –
1. MUSTs- these are what I describe as “essentials” or “non-negotiables” which must be incorporated in every contract or agreement. These are often the items that are ethical and professional imperatives. Confidentiality falls within this category for me, as does expectations – what they can expect of me as coach or mentor and what I expect of them as coachee or mentee.
2. SHOULDs- things that should be in a contract, but are not essential. I would perhaps describe these as “best practice” clauses. In my case this includes things like cancellation arrangement; termination clauses etc.
3. COULDs- these are non-essentials, but which may need to be incorporated to address matters that are identified as potential issues – for example, this could include intercessional contact arrangements.
Although I have described them as Musts, Shoulds and Coulds, I also ensure that each clause is discussed and agreed with the sponsor and coachee/mentee.
Take the challenge, review your own contracts and agreements. Make sure that they reflect your own needs as coach or mentor, as well as ensuring that they reflect the changing environment in which you are operating.
Remember “Opportunity arises for the prepared mind” -Louis Pasteur