Monday 19 July 2010
Contracting....THE Essential Skill in Coaching
It's a known fact that the ability to 'contract' is THE most important skill a Coach possesses. Sure there are other things he/she needs to be able to do and indeed excel at, however without a solid and comprehensive contract the quality, depth and outcomes from Coaching are very likely to be both flawed and compromised.
The truth is many Coaches are not skilled enough in how to contract with a Client, an Organisation or in any other circumstance they find themselves in. Also, it's just damned hard so why take all that on as well?! However I have to say when I do this properly and carefully not alone do Clients do better, they actually soar....!
Coaching's about change, you cannot make an omelette without breaking a few eggs and that's often why Coaches and Organisations procuring Coaching services avoid tough yet obvious questions. As a Coach sometimes your own "ego" can get in the way. (Not the great "I am" ego, more like the "I don't want to rock the boat" or "Don't want to look foolish here" kind of ego). Sometimes clients just want to move very quickly and seem very sure of their ground on an issue that requires Coaching. A good Coach should feel comfortable slowing the pace down when this happens and asking the somewhat dull but essential questions. There are many ways to conduct this exercise effectively. My own view is when I facilitate what should be happening between my Client(person being Coached)and my Customer (person paying for the service = often the boss)then I'm most effective. I realised that's what works best....Why...?
"I don't work there and the problems are theirs not mine"................
I ask 3 routine questions that work for me and support any process or situation I've come across in my own practice....Thought them worth sharing with you whether you're a Coach or acquiring Coaching services.
1. Does the person requiring Coaching have a full understanding of why Coaching's being requested for them at this time....?
2. Has everything you discuss with me been discussed and understood by the Coachee already...?
3. How will we know this has been successful and what does that look like for all parties concerned here...?
A lot of the time we "ASSUME" the client has this "covered" or the Coachee somehow "intuits" what's meant and expected. As a Coach that's too high a risk to gamble on not clarifying. That's all part of Contracting. This is an expansive process that looks at EXERYTHING involved from, how you'll work together to timing of sessions, payments, logistics and all the emotional and psychological work that's involved here. The Coach needs to lead this process and communicate early if it's going off track. It's a reproducible skill that once mastered will serve you well in other areas of life also. It's particularly powerful in managing the expectations of other and managing performance....Will support this weighty topic with further posts in coming weeks..... Your comments are as ever very welcome.