The "negotiation" method in executive coaching

Giuseppe Ando
min read
The "negotiation" method in executive coaching

An executive coach must be able to negotiate and conclude agreements on multiple levels. It is not just a question of defining the framework agreement, but of making the subsequent agreements that will inform the specific coaching activity complementary and coherent. These different levels of contracts support and reinforce each other.

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Coaching contract

It serves to establish the contents of the main agreement with the coachee. For example, it defines the precise number of predetermined sessions, the duration of the journey (from several weeks to several months), and the outcome desired by the client. This is the most basic level of bargaining.

Session agreement

It serves to establish the duration of a specific meeting with the coachee, which could last from half an hour to several hours, but always with measurable results. 

Specific objective agreement

It serves to determine the scope of a precise work on a specific topic or objective of the coachee, for a defined period of time, which could be only a few minutes, with the aim of a satisfactory action plan. 

Homework Agreements

It determines what "homework" the coachee will implement between coaching sessions or meetings, to ensure the success of the co-designed action plan. They are also referred to as "delegation contracts".

Comparison agreements

They establish the modalities with which to verify and highlight, in a constructive way, the perceived discrepancies between commitments and behavior ( walk the talk ) of the coachee and / or the coach. 

As a coaching process develops, all of these different levels of bargaining intertwine and support each other, some for several months, others for days, hours or minutes. At each level, the work between the coach and the coachee is framed and limited by a different form of bargaining process. As the coaching relationship evolves, the bargaining process provides both of us with numerous indicators of relationship deficits and operational models of success. The coach / coachee negotiation is not the product of antithetical and opposing instances, but develops on the basis of an investigation, aimed at discovering the most adequate answers to the questions underlying the relationship. It is a contrast of method, which serves to frame the work, through some key questions:

  • How do coachees and coaches set realistic, ambitious, concrete and measurable goals?
  • What is the coachee's ability to create, collect, negotiate and implement the means useful for achieving the objectives?    
  • How do coachees and coaches manage time and meet deadlines?    
  • What is the ability of the coach and coachee to continuously measure the results and regularly take them into consideration to determine the next steps towards achieving the objectives?
  • Are coaches and coachees able to highlight the discrepancies in the growth process and, therefore, implement more congruent actions, in line with the stated objectives?
  • Do coaches and coachees know (or will they know) to take corrective actions, rectify the lines of action to develop better contracts and agreements and obtain even more performing results?

Through the negotiation and guidance of the coach, the coachee gradually develops a  modus operandi  focused on performance and on measurable, congruent and sustainable results. The bargaining process is instrumental in guiding clients on the path to success during a coaching relationship. The continuous use of various bargaining and agreement processes during a coaching relationship becomes a systematic operational apprenticeship, for the acquisition of a series of skills that will remain the patrimony of the coachee after and beyond the coaching experience.

About the author

Giuseppe Ando is a C-Level & Executive Coach - Associate Partner at the acclaimed Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching. With a career that presides at the crux of the Venn diagram of Passion, Skills, and Experience, Giuseppe’s reputation as top executive coach has spanned decades. Among his many accolades, he is also recognized for his unique ability to understand and inspire those he coaches to excel professionally and personally while also delivering their organization’s desired results.

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