Why It’s So Important to Establish a Coaching Agreement

Establishing the coaching agreement is one of the core competencies in life coaching, according to the International Coach Federation (ICF).

What is it? And why is it so important in a life coaching cycle.

What is a coaching agreement?

A coaching agreement is a meeting of the minds between the coach and coachee. Both parties agree on what the client intends to accomplish during the life coaching cycle. Essentially, the coaching agreement reflects the purpose of the life coaching engagement. Without it, neither the coach or client would know which direction to go.

There are two levels to a coaching agreement. Level one is the overall coaching agreement, which may be a bit vague. For example, both the coach and client agree that coaching is all about improving the client’s career prospects.

There may or may not be formal paperwork that reflects this agreement, along with various rules of engagement. For example, what are the coaching fees, scheduling policies, communication opportunities between sessions, homework assignments, and so on.

The Second Type of Life Coaching Agreement

The second kind of coaching agreement has to do with what the client wants to accomplish in each session on the path to the larger goal. This level of coaching agreement is typically visited at the beginning of each session.

Life coaches might ask, “What do you want to accomplish by the end of this session today?”

Asking this or related questions chunks the goal down into smaller pieces so that each meeting might serve as another small step toward to larger goal.

Why is Forming a Coaching Agreement so Important?

This should seem like a silly question. Without a coaching agreement (of both kinds mentioned above) there is no basis for coaching. The client’s goals are the only reason coaching happens in the first place.

If the coach shows no interest in what the client wants, then life coaching will not take place. Life coach training that incorporates information gathering models like NLP outcome specification have a particular advantage in this arena because this NLP model does a marvelous job of clarifying goals at both large, broad level as well as the narrow, more specific level that is useful on a session-by-session basis.

To recap: Establishing a coaching agreement is a foundation of life coaching. Without it, coaching will not happen.