In an ideal world, a joint meeting would take place between the corporate sponsor, the client and the coach to discuss the desired outcome. You could call this the transparent tripartite agreement stage of contracting. However, we do not live in an ideal world and such meetings are not always possible. In these circumstances the coach may need to speak to the corporate sponsor about his or her concerns and the desired organisational outcomes. Following this initial meeting, the same discussion would take place with the coaching client. In addition, the coach needs to ensure that all parties are clear and in agreement with the overall outcomes. The behavioural contract is then drawn up as part of the coach’s chosen framework; it doesn’t dictate how coaching should take place, it simply makes the outcomes specific.
During this part of the process the coach may need to mediate and facilitate the discussion quite proactively. For example, a line manager may have a fairly narrow view of what he or she wants the employee to achieve from the coaching. The coach will typically start with an open question, such as ‘what would you like to see the coaching achieve?’
Depending on the circumstances, the coach may decide to ask either the corporate sponsor or the coaching client to speak first as there are no hard and fast rules about this. What is important is that both parties state their views and an agreement is reached.
An overall coaching objective may be a general statement, such as:
‘I think Peter and his colleagues need to communicate more effectively’
‘Peter has a tendency to be very forceful and I think he and his team would benefit from a more cooperative style’.
‘I would like to be more confident’
‘I would like to feel more in control of what happens’
This part of the process allows the coach to gain an overall perspective of the client, his or her situation, the culture of the organisation, the type of people the client works with, the situations he or she has to face and how he or she is perceived.