In the International Coaching Federation’s Code of Ethics, the following definitions clarify roles for coaching relationship:
- Client: The “client” is the person(s) being coached.
- Sponsor: The “sponsor” is the entity (including its representatives) paying for and/or arranging for coaching services to be provided.
This is significant because in Section 4: Confidentiality/Privacy of the Code of Ethics it states:
23) I will have a clear agreement upon how coaching information will be exchanged among coach, client, and sponsor.
Specifically, this means before coaching begins it is essential to establish what information is exchanged and how it is exchanged.
The confidentiality of the client or coachee is essential for a successful coaching relationship. If a coachee is concerned that what they say is anything less than completely confidential then the process is limited. When a coachee is aware that it is a confidential conversation then the coachee has permission to share information openly and thus process options, concerns, and influencing factors. This in turn supports effective strategy development and action planning.
For an internal coaching program, it makes sense to address this in a program manual as well as ensuring the coach training includes training on the Code of Ethics. In the program manual, cite the Code of Ethics and state that what is discussed during coaching sessions is completely confidential and kept between the coach and the coachee. The only exceptions are a threat of harm and an unreported crime. One option for providing direct supervisors or managers with information that is in keeping with the ethics is co-creating a report as in the example provided in the previous blog post.
A policy that explains how information is exchanged will minimize conflicts and inappropriate requests for information.