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The look I received across the table was not all that unexpected. Confused. Frustrated. One eyebrow up, making the other eye squint just enough to let me know I’ve touched a nerve. After taking a crisp breath in, my Coachee got ready to speak – but then froze. The gaping mouth closed. My Coachee looked down then up, and said, “Darn it” (not the actual word used…), “you might be on to something.”

Coaching can be tough for both the Coachee as well as the Coach.  It can be an emotional and raw process, but one that often provides a way to break through and improve tremendously.

To help both the Coachee and Coach through this journey, a common understanding of expectations is needed. I recommend implementing a “Coaching Agreement” between Coachee and Coach near the very beginning of your partnership. Especially for those new to a coaching relationship, it can be used as a discussion vehicle to establish expectations and how you will work together, especially in deeply intense situations.

While there are many types of coaching (personal, career, professional/on-the-job, etc.), there can be some common sections to use in your initial agreement. The 3 sections I like to include at a minimum include:

Coaching Agreement Table

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. But, use this as a starting point to create your own agreement, customizing it as each Coachee-Coach partnership needs.  I have found when I’ve gone through an exercise to create an agreement with my Coachees, we’ve been able to navigate through some of the tough situations like the story above much easier than when we didn’t.

Remember, it’s not the agreement itself that’s important – it’s the dialog and getting on the same page that is. And above all, note that the agreement can and should change over time. Both the Coachee and Coach will grow and the relationship will change.

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