Leader as Coach: Establishing the Coaching Agreement/ Contracting


contractingIn this series about coaching competencies, we move to establishing the coaching agreement, or in one word, contracting.

If you add contracting to your conversations, those conversations are much more likely to be transformational, as they will be focused rather than meandering.

There are three aspects to contracting:

  1. The Big C contracting before the coaching begins
  2. The small c contracting at the beginning of each coaching “session” (though session makes it sound like it has to be an hour off in a room away from the work, when in fact, it can be as short as a 5 minute corridor conversation).
  3. Recontracting part way through a programme of coaching or a session

Whichever one we are focused on, I like to use a model developed by 3D Coaching, called STOKeRS.

It stands for:

Subject: what do we need to think about (in this programme of coaching/today)?

Time: given we have x minutes, what about that do we need to focus on? (or for the Big C, over what period shall we work together on that, and how often would you like to meet?)

Outcome: what would you like to be different at the end of our time?

Know: how will you know you have got what you need out of this time?

Role: how are we going to do this together?

Start: where shall we start?

You can see how that model works for both the Big C and small c contracts.

We may need to recontract in the midst of a programme of coaching, to be sure that the thinker is moving towards the outcomes they said they wanted; or that they are consciously choosing new outcomes.  And we may need to recontract in the midst of a session, if the thinker seems to be talking about something different from their outcome for the session, to check that they are making a conscious choice about that.  So we would come back to STOKeRS again.

Try it out in your next conversation, in the order above.  There is method to this order, especially talking time AFTER subject, so they are not limited in their thinking at the start of the conversation, but do focus down like a funnel effect on the piece that is most important to tackle first; and ending with where shall we start, so that the agenda remains in their hands, and is not steered by you – one real differentiator of coaching, which is non-directive.

Let me know how you get on.