Timing is everything
. . . in contracting coaching and mentoring. And the active engagement of your client. The temptation to get everything you need to cover out of the way in one fell swoop is often difficult to resist. But, getting contracting ‘right’ for your client will ensure your coaching gets off to the best possible start.
What do I mean by – ‘timing is everything’ in contracting coaching and mentoring?
The context for each one of your clients is likely to be very different. They will be coming to you for a variety of reasons and will arrive from a number of different directions. Some, for example, will be in an organisation which has coaching or mentoring well established and may be willing volunteers. Others may come from an organisation where coaching is seen as something you are ‘sent to’ if there is a problem.
Those who are paying directly for their coaching as individuals are unlikely to be coming with an organisational hat on although, some might. Individual clients may be coming because they want a change of direction in their life. This may be from choice, for example, they are looking to a new career. Others may need to change direction unexpectedly through unemployment or changed personal circumstances.
Just reading the paragraph above
. . . let alone writing it, makes the point. If the context is individual then so should be the contracting. That does not mean that only some aspects of contracting need to be covered with some people although it might. Rather, that you need to have given thought to the individual context and which aspects of the Optimising Coaching 3 P’s of Contracting – which we looked at previously – need to be shared, discussed and agreed and at what point in the process.
For example, are there some things that need to be emailed or discussed in advance of the first session? When do you schedule, and how do you manage, any 3 way contracting when an organisation is involved?
There will be some non-negotiables
. . . that underpin the integrity of the coaching and mentoring processes that you need to put on the table at the outset. This will include the issue of confidentiality and its boundaries. For you this is an ethical as well as a process issue and for your client it is often the question that they have at the forefront of their mind. You are also likely to want to share some of the key principles of coaching or mentoring – for example, where responsibility for the learning and action resides, the non-judgemental nature of the process. The sharing and discussion of these key areas early on helps to frame the coaching relationship as well as set it off on a good footing. It also ensure that both parties have the opportunity to reflect on whether coaching or mentoring is appropriate in the specific context and whether you have a shared view of its purpose.
The majority of what you need to agree between you requires discussion and needs to be introduced into the process at the appropriate time. For example, agreeing how often and when you are going to meet might be better discussed at the end of the 1st session rather than at the beginning. After you are both clear about the ‘real’ agenda.
What is most important
. . . is that you remember that ‘timing is everything’ and that contracting does not have to just happen at the beginning of the first coaching session. Depending on the context of your client there will some elements that happen before, some during and others after the first session.
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