Contracting 8: Reflecting Before the Event

Contracting 8Time spent reflecting on contracting BEFORE you contact each client is time very well spent!

If clarity and transparency, which we explored last week, are at the heart of good coaching and mentoring then reflecting on contracting BEFORE you contact each client is clearly essential.


The answer to this question lies in a short 4 letter word you can find in the first sentence of this blog – ‘EACH’.

You know already that optimising the coaching and mentoring experience for your client is determined by how effectively you can flex your approach as a coach or mentor to meet their specific . . .

  • needs
  • learning style
  • sensory preferences
  • psychological preferences
  • culture and background
  • motivational drivers

So why should the process of contracting operate to a different set of rules?

Clearly it shouldn’t!

How your client sees, experiences and responds to the world will be central to how they make sense of what you share with them about the practice and process of coaching or mentoring and the principles which underpin them.  In short – will determine how your relationship with your client is framed.

To ensure that you are able to carry out your responsibilities as a coach – namely, to . . .

  • set the scene
  • establish the ethos
  • provide the framework . . .

within which ‘real’ learning can occur . . .

  • you will need to be mindful of how you go about the contracting process with each individual client.

Of course, there will be some practicalities and principles that need to be covered that will be similar for each client e.g. . . .

  • confidentiality
  • the role of the coach or mentor
  • what might happen in a session and what won’t happen in a session
  • how often you are going to meet and where
  • where respective responsibilities lie

But how you go about sharing and discussing them might need to be quite different from one client to another.

For example, some clients will want to have had something in advance to read and digest before they come to their first session. Without this they may well feel nervous, out of control and short footed not having been able to think through any questions they may want to ask in advance. While other clients will not even consider that you might want to send them something in advance. And, if you do are unlikely to look at it. They will be much more comfortable to contract with you in the here and now and it will be in the discussion that purpose, meaning and questions will emerge.

And, of course, here is the real dilemma for you as a coach or mentor. If you have not met your client how will you know how to go about this ‘before’ element of contracting?

So – how can you find out?

I’m sure you know the answer before you even read what I am about to write!

Whenever you are in doubt as a coach or mentor the guiding rule is to listen to or to ask your client. Clearly in this case it will be to ask the question first and then to listen!  To check out with your client in advance of your first session what it would be helpful for them to know or to have in advance to ensure that their first session is impactful.

The key questions

. . . for you to ensure that your relationship gets off to a good start?

  • How and in what way do I need to contact this particular client in advance of our first session?
  • What impact is this likely to have?
  • What information do I need, might they need, in advance?
  • Is there anybody else I, or they, need to contact in advance to ensure that we have all the information we need to contract effectively?

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Posted in Blogs, Contracting