Contracting 5: Optimising Coaching’s 3 P’s of Contracting

Contracting 5Principles, Practice, Procedures

The Principles, Practice and Procedures underpinning coaching and mentoring – what I call Optimising Coaching’s 3P’s of Contracting – need to be clear from the outset of the coaching or mentoring relationship.  This will enable you to negotiate successfully through that contracting maze we considered last week!

Why do they need to be clear?

Because clarity at the contracting stage, about the Principles, Practice and Procedures underpinning coaching and mentoring, is central to successful practice.

From my experience as a coaching supervisor when things do not go as well as you expect it can usually be traced back to confusion or omission at the contracting stage. Getting the contracting process ‘right’ for each individual client sets the foundations for the safe and secure environment you need to establish if you are to build an effective coaching or mentoring relationship.

If you are clear about the 3P’s

. . . then contracting with your client will be relatively straightforward. You will know what you need to cover and when for each client to ensure the integrity of the process is secure from the outset. And, it will be different for each individual client – not just in terms of what is finally contacted but also for how you manage the contacting process. For example, some of your clients will welcome information written in advance and others will only want to talk it through when you meet.

What do I mean by Principles, Practice and Procedures?

1 The Principles of Coaching and Mentoring

i.e. what are the essential characteristics of coaching and mentoring?  What it is important for both you and your client to have a common understanding about to ensure the coaching relationship works? To ensure that coaching or mentoring achieves its overall aim of supporting your client to be – and feel – in control of their life. In other words, what coaching is and what it is not.

Some examples would be:

  • The role of the coach is non-judgmental – it is to provide a safe space in which a coachee/mentee can feel confident to explore and reflect on what they bring to the sessions
  • The coachee/mentee is responsible for the setting of the agenda and for their learning – to ensure ownership of the process and any subsequent action

2 The Practice of Coaching and Mentoring

i.e. what coaching and mentoring will look and feel like?  What may happen in a coaching or mentoring session – the HOW you will work. What ethical framework or Code of Practice you work to.

Some examples would be:

  • To support your further exploration and reflection I may:
    • ask questions
    • suggest the use of a relevant tool or technique
    • On occasions I will summarise to check out my understanding of what I am hearing or to help you gain an overview of what you have explored
    • Confidentiality – not forgetting the essential caveats which it is important to be explicit about at this stage

3 The Procedures or Practicalities of Coaching and Mentoring

i.e. how you agree to work together to ensure that covering things such as where you’ll meet, how often etc.

Some examples would be:

  • It is fine to take a break at any time
  • Discussion and agreement on the ownership of notes
  • Frequency, timing and duration of sessions
  • How you are going to handle mobile phone

The use of the 3P’s contracting framework

. . . or the framework you develop for yourself, will help you ensure you cover everything that it is important to share, discuss and agree with your client at the contracting stage.   Exactly how and when you do this, as we have already identified, may well be different for different clients.  Something further to explore!


If you have found this blog helpful . . . please feel free to share it within your own social media networks via the floating icons on the right. More blogs in this series can be found on our website at Optimising Coaching – Blogs. You can also subscribe to our blogs by clicking this icon RSS Feed

Posted in Blogs, Contracting
Top