Team Coaching Contract
10th May, 2020
Coaching is a developmental facilitation. It is a relationship between two parties. One is the coach, and the other is coachee. It is not a one-time activity but an ongoing process. It is wise to set the expectations clearly, just like in any other relationship to make things easy. The establishment of a coaching contract is necessary for coaching. In a team coaching context, the team which needs coaching becomes the coachee. So, in the context of team coaching, a Team Coaching Contract is essential.
The agreement between Coach and the team on
- How are they going to work together?
- What are they going to achieve?
It is known as contracting. The outcome of the team coaching contract is an agreement that contains the expectations of the coach and the team. The expectations are the boundaries of coaching, confidentiality, roles, objectives, challenges, decision making, duration, and so on. Contracts help creates a foundation for the team and the coach. It also contains opportunities to make informed choices about how both parties can work together.
If you get hired as a Scrum Master or an Agile Coach for your team, you can start straight away. If you are an external coach for your organization, then identifying who is your coachee and the problems they face is essential at the initial phase. Identifying the type of clients is crucial to the contracting process.
Primary Client: The person or the team or the business unit which needs coaching. The contract made for the primary client alone as they are the ones who will receive the coaching. They are responsible for seeking help and cannot delegate that responsibility. The leader could be part of the team or maybe not.
Intermediate Client: This client will involve in the early part of the contract. The intermediate client could be the leader of the team, supervisors, managers, directors, vertical heads, Vice Presidents, or even executives.
Contact Client: This client usually makes the initial contact. They could be an administrative assistant to the team, a member of human resources, or a secretary to the Intermediate Client.
Ultimate Client: This client may not be in direct contact but benefits indirectly. They could be the organization as a whole, customers, investors, and other stakeholders.
Stages of Contracting
The contracting stages begin with the Coach having discussions with clients and ending with all the client groups. The contracting contains details on how the coach and the coachee will work together. All the others need to agree on the terms of the contract.
Initial contact with the client starts with identifying your primary client. Once after identifying the primary client, identifying the problems and expectations will be the next steps. Below is the list of questions that helps to uncover.
- Describe to me the problems of the team. What are some specific examples?
- What do team members do that you see as a problem? What are some particular cases?
- How widespread are the issues? Do they occur all the time or only under certain conditions or with specific individuals?
- When did the problem begin? What else was happening at that time or shortly before the problem started?
- In what ways do members contribute to the issues? In what ways do you contribute to the issues?
- What are the implications of the problem?
- How does the problem affect the team's ability to produce quality products or deliver quality services? Work together? Meet individual needs? What are some examples?
Potential Causes - Process, Structure and Organizational Context
- What do you think are the causes of the problems? What have you seen or heard that leads you to believe these are the causes?
- How does the group solve problems and make decisions? Communicate and manage conflict? Coordinate its work with others in the organization? Do any of these seem related to the issues you described? If so, how?
- Does the team have clear goals?
- Are members motivated by their tasks?
- Does the team have the right kind of members to do its work?
- Do members understand and agree on their roles?
- Do they have enough time to do their job?
- What types of behaviors do members expect of each other?
- What are the core values and beliefs that members share about work? Do any of these seem related to the problems you described? If so, how?
- In what ways does the organization help or hinder the team? Is there a clear mission and a shared vision? Is the culture supportive?
- How are team members rewarded? Does the team get enough information to do its work? Enough training and other resources? Appropriate physical space to work? Do any of these seem related to the problems you described? If so, how?
- What is the history of the group? How has the membership and the leadership changed?
- How do you think other people in the group would identify the problems and their causes? Would others disagree?
Motivation and Resources for change
- What have you tried to do to improve the situation? What were the results?
- Why does each member want to work with a coach? How motivated is each member?
- What are the team's strengths? How does the team act in productive ways?
Experience with consultants and current request for help
- Have you used other consultants or coaches in the past, either for this situation or others?
- What role did the consultant or the coach play? What were the results?
- What did the coaches do that members liked or disliked?
- What has led you to contact someone now? What has happened or is about to occur in the team or organization?
- How did the idea to call me, in particular, come about? Who initiated it? How did other team members receive it?
- How do you see me helping the group accomplish its objectives?
Once after identifying the problems and coming to a conclusion, the coach needs to decide whether they will be to help the team. Finally, the primary client should agree on the next steps and plan the coaching activities.
In this stage, the coach, along with the representatives of the client groups, plan the coaching activities. The coach meets with the individual team members and encourages them to share as much information as they can. Team members will be able to provide more details when they come for a one-on-one meeting with the coach. The team wouldn't share information around the presence of their leader, and it is necessary to engage them alone.
For teams that have sub-teams, representatives from each team will get included for planning activities.
The Coach and the client groups work together to come up with a tentative contract after planning for the activities. The tentative agreement is to understand and commit to the conditions of the relationship. The agreement has to be in writing for all the parties to read and understand. The primary purpose of the contract is to build the relationship through agreed working agreements.
This conversation is to ensure any changes that might affect the contract. Some questions to ensure are,
- Has anything changed since we spoke last time about coaching?
- Is there anything else I should know before proceeding?
- How is the team feeling about this?
These questions help the coach determine whether or not things need to be changed. The coach regularly seek to determine whether conditions that might affect the contract or the facilitation have changed
Discussing Tentative Contract
The contract will be tentative until the entire primary client group agrees to the contract. Its a mental model of people, to think that a contract once is written cannot be changed than the one conveyed orally. So, the coach encourages the group to check and propose any further changes that may be needed. The ground rules for coaching gets discussed in this stage.
Evaluating, Modifying, Completing, and Terminating Contract
The coaching contract should continuously be evaluated to check and understand whether it serves the needs. The team should openly discuss things when in doubt. If there are issues about the contract, the team should be courageous enough to express it. It is challenging to identify when the team coaching activity can be called complete.
What should I do if I am an internal coach?
The process mentioned above to come up with an efficient coaching contract is the same for both the internal and external coaches. The external coach might go for a stringent contract agreement with legalities while an internal coach can document it in a version control tool. The mode of recording the contract could be a
- MS Word
- Internal Wiki
- Sharepoint, etc.
Keep in mind that it is quintessential to document it and keep updating it so that the revision is visible for future reference.
**source: Skilled Facilitator – Roger M Schwarz