Organisations may request some feedback on workplace coaching assignments, but in order to safeguard confidentiality, effective initial contracting issues can help maintain such boundaries.
There are a number of professional issues that need to be taken into account when coaching in an organisational setting. Coaches who work in a business environment are likely to be called executive or business coaches and this post focuses only on this type of coaching.
Organisational contracting requires the coach to take into account the additional dimension of the needs of the organisation. The organisation usually wants to know that the coaching will add to the productivity of the employee and will be of benefit to the company. A coach is likely to be approached by a range of organisational sponsors such as line managers, human resource specialists or those with sufficient autonomy to organise their own coaching.
In addition, the type of coaching required may be quite different, ranging from performance recovery to performance enhancement.
Performance recovery relates to those situation where the employee may be struggling with some aspect of his or her job. Performance enhancement refers to those who are doing well but would like to know how to work on their strengths to perform even better. The coaching may also be used as a stress prevention tool to ensure that individuals remain at peak performance. This type of coaching may be considered as being akin to sports coaching where athletes continue to improve on individual performance regardless of how well they are already performing. Behavioural contracting means that the coach needs to be clear about the terms and conditions of the coaching and the outcomes being sought by each party.
The philosophy underlying behavioural contracting is that if coaching is to produce durable and positive change the outcomes need to be expressed in behavioural terms.
Many coaches have embraced the concept of a behavioural contract. Its objective is to ensure that all parties agree the desired outcome from the outset, stating these in behavioural terms. It helps the coaching client and sponsoring organisation get a better feel for what will actually happen behind closed doors and helps form expectations about change. The more transparent this part of the process, the less likely there will be disappointment for all parties. In addition, there is less chance of the coach being used as a political scapegoat.