Before starting to coach there are many things to manage. It is important to know in advance what the client wants from the coaching, sponsor expectations, and to have a formal agreement.
- Some sponsors want to dictate the focus of the coaching work and that may or may not be what the client wants. Who decides? Can the client change the focus after starting?
- Some sponsors want to know more about what is happening in the coaching sessions and that requires a clear agreement on what information is exchanged and how.
- Some sponsors know the value of having the client determine the focus, share what they want to share, and recognize that the outcome will be visible in the workplace.
- Some clients are clear on their focus and stay with that.
- Some clients have competing priorities and in part the coaching will help them figure out what they want.
- Some clients are unsure, and the coaching may involve exploring possibilities and challenges.
Be clear on the purpose of the engagement before starting.
It is also smart to discuss how the sponsor and the client want to measure the return on investment of time and effort into coaching. This may include looking at available metrics before, during, and after coaching. Another approach is doing an assessment before and after the coaching. Including the qualitative objectives is important too. By figuring this all out in advance, you are prepared to define the current state and then compare after the coaching engagement.
The formal agreement in place before starting is commonly written; if that is offensive in the client’s culture then the agreement is verbal. Address key points as specified in the Code of Ethics including roles, responsibilities, confidentiality, record keeping, conflicts, length, and scheduling. The focus and measuring of ROI can be addressed in the coaching agreement or separately. A helpful hint: if you are pursuing a credential with ICF, include a clause giving you permission to log the client coaching hours.