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Multi-Stakeholder Contracting in Executive Coaching

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Furthermore, the coach needs to understand the organization’s objectives and purpose for the coaching and seek to explore how the coachee’s goals may align with these.

This is all very well when the coaching intervention emanates from a developmental intention and agenda. However, there are difficulties when coaching may be advocated or “recommended” by a line manager who is either unable or unwilling to deal with an employee’s performance. This inevitably sets up a tension in the multi-stakeholder contract, as there is likely to be an unspoken agenda that may be at odds with the declared intentions.

This raises different challenges for the coach. Are they willing to probe to establish the true purpose of the coaching? Are they able to coach the manager in how to deal with the performance issue? Are they willing to walk away from an assignment where there are multiple, unshared agendas?

There is not necessarily a “right” answer to these questions, but it’s more a case of being aware of the complexity of the contracting process and developing the confidence and skills to facilitate these dialogues. Coaches need to develop their capacity to negotiate these diverse connections to ensure that they manage the expectations of everyone as transparently and ethically as possible. What is clear is that there are several layers of contracting to attend to: the practical, the professional and the psychological to ensure that the work is effective, according to Julie Hay.

Needless to say, supervision provides an invaluable opportunity for coaches to explore the complexity of working in organizational systems where multiple stakeholders are involved.

This article was originally published on ICF Coaching World.

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