Contracting 9: How Many People are in Your Coaching Relationship?

Contracting 9Understanding who is a stakeholder

. . . in the outcome of the coaching and mentoring process is an important part of contracting especially if somebody other than your coachee or mentee is your client.  By ‘client’, in this context I mean the person who is commissioning the coaching or mentoring and who may be paying the bill.

This is likely to be the case when you are working in an organisational context as rarely will your coachee or mentee be coming to you in isolation.   Even if they have requested the coaching or mentoring it will be within a context that is work related.  Understanding who’s a stakeholder in the outcome of the coaching and mentoring is going to be important in helping you to clarify who you need to involve at the contracting stage, and how, in order to secure the integrity of the process.

Coaching or mentoring on a 1:1 basis1to1 icon

. . . when the work has been commissioned by an organisation brings a wider context to the contracting process. It is essential that this is handled within an ethical framework. If not managed effectively from the outset it can lead to a number of tensions which will undermine your work as a coach or mentor.

In a large organisation there may be a number of stakeholders to consider who have a legitimate interest in the outcome. For example, stakeholders could include the coachee or mentee’s line manager, the person in Training and Development who has been asked to organise the coaching and the team that the coachee manages.  This will not necessarily mean, of course, that you need to contract with them all. What it does mean is that you need to have clarity about where respective responsibilities lie. For example, who is responsible for commissioning the work – as this should usually be contracted separately – and who is responsible for identifying the organisational purpose and supporting the coachee or mentee as they go through the process?

Transparency

. . . about the coaching or mentoring process and its outcomes with all those directly involved is essential at the contracting stage. Establishing the ‘right’ relationship with your coachee or mentee from the outset is dependent on them feeling they are in a safe and confidential environment. If there is any hint of hidden agendas around then you will be starting on the back foot and may never recover.

Similarly, it is possible for misunderstandings to emerge later in the process if there is lack of clarity about:

  • what coaching or mentoring is and is not
  • where respective responsibilities lie
  • what the process ‘looks like’
  • how you will be working both with the organisation and with the coachee or mentee

In my experience, these always seem to have a nasty habit of rearing their head at a time when there are heightened emotions around and it is more difficult to have a rational conversation.  Confidentiality is always a sticky one to handle if this has not been discussed through in advance with those supporting or contracting the coaching process.

There are a number of key questionsKey questions

. . . to ask yourself when the person commissioning you is not the person you are coaching and mentoring and/or when there are other stakeholders, such as a line manager, involved. I will be exploring these next week.


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