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A Guide to 3-Way Contracting for Coaches

Not all coaching engagements will involve a sponsor and for matched assignments it is the coachee’s responsibility to let the coach know if a sponsor is to be involved.

If a sponsor is to be involved then three-way contracting is an important step in the process.

Three-way contracting is a process that involves the coach, the coachee, and a representative of the organisation (usually the coachee's line manager) coming together to agree on the goals of the coaching, how progress will be measured, and the roles and responsibilities of each party.

Why is 3-way contracting important?

There are a number of benefits to 3-way contracting, including:

  • It ensures that everyone involved in the coaching process has a clear understanding of the goals and expectations.

  • It helps to create a sense of alignment and commitment between the coach, the coachee, and the organisation.

  • It can help to identify and address any potential challenges or roadblocks to success.

  • It can help to ensure that the coaching is focused on outcomes that are important to both the individual and the organisation.

How to conduct a three-way contracting meeting

Here is a step-by-step guide to conducting a three-way contracting meeting:

  1. Prepare for the meeting. Send out a meeting invitation to the coachee and the sponsor in advance, and ask them to come prepared to discuss their goals and expectations for the coaching relationship. You may also want to send out a brief information sheet about three-way contracting and the coaching process.

  2. Start by introducing everyone and explaining the purpose of the meeting. Take some time to explain what coaching is, how it works, and what the coachee can expect. The goal of the meeting is to have a collaborative conversation, so it's important to start by building rapport with the coachee and sponsor. 

  3. Invite the coachee to share their goals and expectations for the coaching relationship. What do they hope to achieve by the end of the coaching process? What areas do they want to develop?

  4. Ask the sponsor to share their goals and expectations for the coaching relationship. What do they hope the coachee will achieve? How do they see the coaching intervention supporting the organisation's objectives?

  5. Discuss how you will measure the success of the coaching intervention. What are some specific and measurable outcomes that you can all agree on?

  6. Establish clear boundaries. It's also important to establish clear boundaries around confidentiality, communication, and feedback.

  7. Review and agree on the roles and responsibilities of each party. For example, how will the coach, the coachee, and the sponsor communicate with each other? How will the coachee's progress be evaluated? Depending on the number of coaching sessions, it can be good practice to hold a check-in meeting at the mid-point and a handover meeting after the final session. These sessions are facilitated by the coach and coach-coachee confidentiality should be maintained.

  8. Answer any questions that the coachee or the sponsor may have.

  9. Summarise the key points of the meeting and agree on next steps.

  10. Document the agreement. Once you have reached an agreement, document it in a written agreement and share with all parties. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there are no misunderstandings down the road.

Some additional tips

Here are a few tips for less experienced coaches who may be approaching three-way contracting for the first time:

  • Remember that three-way contracting is a collaborative process. You are there to facilitate the discussion and help the coachee, the sponsor, and yourself to come to a shared agreement.

  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you are unsure about something, ask the coachee or the sponsor for clarification.

  • Be honest and transparent. If you think that the coachee's goals are unrealistic or that the sponsor's expectations are too high, be honest about that.

  • Be flexible and willing to compromise. It is important to reach an agreement that everyone is comfortable with.


Three-way contracting is an important part of the coaching process. By taking the time to conduct a thorough three-way contracting meeting, you can help to ensure that the coaching relationship is successful for everyone involved.

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