Coaching Agreements – An Arrangement of Real Commitments for Success

| March 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

The first time I intentionally used a coaching agreement it was called a contract. Many years ago, my first job was as a thIKRUYEGHSocial Worker, working with adolescents. These young people were referred to me by the local police departments. The police gave the kids a choice. They could go into my program or juvenile court. Usually, but not always, they would choose me. For the most part the kids had behavioral, not mental health issues. They were runners, truants, petty thieves, perpetrators of vandalism – that sort of thing.

After an initial meeting, our first order of business was establishing a contract. We clarified why we were developing the contract – the purpose, what we would include and how we would go about meeting our agreements. We also talked about how we would handle unmet commitments. It wasn’t elaborate, but it clearly defined our relationship as a partnership to achieve specific goals for the benefit of the adolescent.

In her book, The Cycle of Transformation, Siverson refers to “Co-Active Coaching – the coachee and the coach work together to design an effective working relationship that meets the coachee’s needs.” There are a number of relationships that would benefit from Co-Active Coaching -the consultant/coaching role, supervisor/coachee, mentor/coachee and even peer to peer.

Siverson lists three components of an agreement:

  1. Sharing perspectives of coaching and the role of the Leader Coach
  2. Collectively defining and committing to Authentic Trust
  3. Communicating logistics – frequency, location and times coaching will take place

I am particularly passionate about Trust. Trust is really the foundation for any relationship to be productive and healthy. In the workplace and especially in a coaching relationship, trust is the great accelerant. With trust based organizations we have this wonderful coordinated empowerment – people have the autonomy to do the job and they actively collaborate with others to realize the company’s objectives. Collaboration is what a coach/coachee relationship is all about. Collaborating to achieve success.

Siverson shares a fourth component of a solid agreement – Repair and Recovery: When Commitments are Broken. It happens in the most solid of relationships. ‘We’ or ‘they’ drop the ball, we feel discord in our conversations or begin to question the level of commitment to the relationship. “Having a plan in place on the front-end of these occurrences eases the process of repairing and recovering the relationship should we let each other down.”

Whether you establish a formal Leader Coach relationship or a more informal structure, Siverson’s outline is incredibly valuable. The process is based on transparency and accountability. These two principles greatly minimize misunderstandings, miscommunication and unmet commitments. Coaching agreements model behaviors of clarity and commitment. They also level the playing field. It’s not so much a one up/one down relationship as it is a knowledgeable mentor and valuable colleague.

Back to my Social Work days. I remember one agreement in particular. The young man had a number of run-ins with the local police. His family was incredibly dysfunctional. Many of his behaviors actually made sense as he attempted to survive in his world. He was really quite smart. As we worked on developing the agreement he looked up and said, “You’re graded on just Fairfax County numbers right?” This kid had definitely spent time in various social service systems. “So, I’ll do this stuff, but only in Fairfax County. What I do in Loudon County won’t count against me or you.” Well now there was a dilemma. Number one, whether it counted or not, I didn’t want to support criminal behavior in another county. Number two, this kid had actually shop lifted in my father’s store in Loudon County. We struck a deal. He would stay clean in Fairfax County, not go into my father’s store and would not intentionally break any laws in Loudon County. Finding solutions together. The agreements that we developed actually mattered to him and it was important that he thought he could honestly meet the commitments. This, very transparent conversation and agreement, would not have taken place if there had not been a level of trust and shared accountability.

If you have not already picked up your copy of The Cycle of Transformation, I would strongly urge you to do so. While you are waiting for the book to arrive you might listen to what Siverson has to say about Collaborative Partnerships: .



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About the Author ()

Julia Hill-Nichols, SPHR, is the founder of LeadersCove, LLC. With over 30 years experience in operations and human capital management, Julia is gifted in the art and science of bridging strategic imperatives and a company’s human capabilities—executing for success, meeting bottom-line objectives and enlivening the people who are the organization’s lifeblood.

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