A client coaching agreement is a basic condition to establish the coaching relationship. Yet, after training thousands of coaches, I find some coaches are reluctant to ask clients to sign an agreement.
Here are 10 good reasons you need a written agreement with your coaching clients.
- Because an agreement says, “I care.” Agreements communicate you want a clear, safe, and mutually beneficial relationship with the client.
- To increase your client’s commitment. An agreement asks the client to take the coaching engagement seriously.
- To increase your own professionalism. As a coach, you will feel more responsibility to give your best with an agreement in place.
- To be kind to your client. Brené Brown says, “clarity is kindness.” Be kind to your client by clarifying the details, limits, and expectations of the coaching relationship.
- To establish trust with the client. Nothing breaks trust more quickly than not addressing how you’ll work together and then stumbling forward through misunderstandings and unmet expectations.
- To engender client vulnerability. Clearly stating limits to confidentiality (if any) will help the client to feel safer to share in a less filtered way.
- To get organized. Agreements demonstrate that you’re organized—because you are—and this will make the relationship smoother.
- To reduce your emails. By including in your agreement how you will meet the client, how to reschedule, how to pay, when you’re meeting, etc., your client will have one place to find answers instead of emailing you with each question.
- To get paid more. Besides the fact that you look more professional with an agreement and thus worthy of being paid more, if you detail conditions around canceling or rescheduling appointments you won’t go unpaid when your client cancels at the last minute or reschedules into the next month.
- The ICF Code of Ethics requires an agreement. While the ICF doesn’t specifically require the agreement to be written, why wouldn’t you put it in writing?
Are you ready to create your own agreement? Great!
Google the phrase “sample coaching agreement” to find many versions. Some use a lot of fancy, legal-sounding language. Most coaches should have an agreement written in every day, less formal, language.
Here’s my 3-step process: 1) Download a sample agreement. 2) Cut the sections you don’t need. 3) Rewrite it so it’s in your voice. Keep it short and simple.
Agreements are for clarity, not for lawyers.
The most compelling reason to have a client agreement is better client results. Coaching in a safe, trusting, and engaging coaching relationship will produce the best client results. And client agreements will help you build that relationship.
Dr. Keith Webb, PCC
Join the CCNI Core Insights Series with Dr. Keith Webb, PCC on February 12, 2019, at 1pm Eastern time for Establishing the Coaching Agreement. Keith will share practical tips on establishing agreement in the relationship, the coaching series, and individual coaching sessions.
Keith Webb, DMin, PCC, is an author, speaker, and consultant specializing in leadership development. He is the founder of Creative Results Management, a global training organization focused on helping ministry leaders multiply their impact. For 20 years, Keith lived in Japan, Indonesia, and Singapore where he designed and delivered leadership development programs to leaders around the world. He is the author of The Reflective Journal for Coaches, Coaching in Ministry, and The COACH Model for Christian Leaders. Keith is a past-President of ICF Washington State and lives near Seattle with his wife and their two children. He blogs at keithwebb.com.