When someone hears the word “contract,” their mind often goes to legal arrangements or setting up payments.
For us coaches, it’s a completely different story. We know that having a strong coaching relationship with a client (whether that’s an individual, or a group) depends on co-creating a contract and revisiting it often.
In the same vein, having an incredible, world-class group coaching program means contracting clearly so that everyone involved knows exactly what to expect.
A group coaching contract is a clear list of what each person in the group expects out of this experience. It highlights roles responsibilities for group members and for the coach as well as other stakeholders if the engagement is internal to an organization. You might highlight engagement, presence, attendance etc.
Coaching contracts, which must be drawn up early in the group’s journey (before coaching begins), can be added to and amended.
On a smaller scale, setting an intention for every single session will also provide focus, parameters, and motivation for everyone and is a type of contract.
Coaching contracts are essential between the group participants and the coach. In addition, anyone who will be directly impacted by the coaching and has a relationship with the process can and should be involved to create clear expectations. This could include: The group members, their manager, the company paying for the coaching, the leadership team.
When you’re coaching a group as a part of the organization, ask a lot of questions! You’ll need clarity on who is contracting the coaching, expectations, legal requirements, if any, as well as a timeline and goals. You must include these conversation very early in the process, before coaching starts so you also have a sense of who the goals are coming from. For example, does a department sponsoring coaching for the department directors have the decision-making power, and does that influence how the coaching process will go for that group in the cohort?
You’ll need to learn everything as to why the people involved are in coaching - especially if it involves their future employment or career success - and have that noted.
If you’re coaching a team, there are many more considerations (e.g. power dynamics, the involvement of the manager(s) during the coaching process etc.
Make sure that you leave nothing unsaid and create a lot of transparency for all.
The earlier that you think about contracting, the better. Having templates ready and a sense of what you need to protect yourself, the coaching relationship, and your business is essential. Contracts should be drawn before coaching begins.
Contracting should include a few essentials as you begin with a clear conversation and setting the expectation that a contract will be put together.
The contract should include:
Good coaching contracting provides not just legal protection but safe and clear frameworks, expectations, and goals to work towards. This transparency allows all parties to work deeper and be on the same page, with shared benchmarks and a chance to discuss or adjust openly when/if necessary - deepening the relationships with the clients and within the cohort.