Contracting 7: Clarity, Transparency . . . and then a List?

Contracting 7Clarity and transparency are at the heart of good coaching and mentoring

. . . clarity of purpose and transparency of process. Once this is secured then everything else just falls into place. Honestly!

Effectively managing – or not managing – the contracting process is a topic that leads to much debate on all our Coaching and Mentoring Programmes. It is also a regular item in supervision sessions.  The most sought after document is usually a Contracting Checklist.  While this can be helpful further down the line it is not a great place to start. Clarity and transparency are at the heart of good coaching and mentoring and understanding this makes the compiling of a checklist, if you need one, more meaningful.

On the surface

. . . contracting can sometimes appear to be a very quick and straight forward process of agreeing practical issues such as location, time, number of sessions and fees. It becomes far more complex when you begin to consider how best to cover ethical issues relating to professional practice and key principles underpinning good practice.  And, of course, once you do that you begin to realise how all the practical issues that seemed so straight forward are infused by the principles and good practice.

For example, where and when you meet your coachee or mentee and who chooses the venue will give out key messages about how coaching is viewed and valued by you, by your client and, if an organisation is the sponsor, by the organisation.   It will also influence how quickly you can establish an effective coaching or mentoring relationship.

It is very tempting to start by drawing up a ‘To Do’ checklist

As with any other activity the risk here is that you put the cart before the horse. The starting point should always be PURPOSE – what are you trying to achieve through the use of coaching and mentoring? What does your client want coaching or mentoring to deliver?

Once you have Clarity about Purpose you will have the touchstone against which you can check out WHAT you need to do, WHEN and HOW in order to maximise the return on the investment for you and each of your clients. By investment, I mean time, effort, money and often considerable emotional energy.

Once you are clear on Purpose you have the starting point for the contracting conversation with your client, which is where Transparency comes in. The clearer and more open and transparent the process the easier it will be to build a trusting relationship within which your client will feel confident enough to take the risks necessary to grow.

And after this?

Have your contracting checklist to hand if that is what gives you the confidence to make sure you have a way of checking off everything you need to do.  Lists work for some people but they are not everybody’s cup of tea.

After having spent time on clarifying purpose as you go through your checklist you will find that you are automatically asking yourself questions to check out you are on track. And also how you can make the process as transparent as possible for your client

I am conscious

. . . that contracting often looms really large for those starting out on their journey as a coach or mentor.  Clearly it is important to give it the initial thinking and planning the time it needs – and as with learning any new process it always takes more conscious energy at the outset. But, it is definitely not something to be frightened of.

Once you have completed 3 or 4 courses of coaching or mentoring anything that has fallen by the wayside will have emerged for you to reflect on and do differently next time. Once you relax into the process you will find that everything essential is covered by the time you come to the end of your first session. Honestly!


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