How to Manage Coach-Client-Sponsor Interaction by ICF Standards
We are starting a new series of blog posts focused on practice questions designed to help coaches prepare for the International Coach Federation’s Coach Knowledge Assessment. This first question measures a coach’s awareness of Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards. This is the first of the ICF’s Core Competencies.
Consider the question and how you would answer before reviewing the question and answer explanation. Please leave your comments and questions below!
Coach-Client-Sponsor Interaction Question
You are coaching a student in college whose parents are paying for the coaching services. The parents are concerned that the student is getting the most out of the services. Because of this, they email you to check in on how well the student is doing after 5 sessions of coaching. How should you as a coach respond?
A. The coach should offer to setup a review session with the student’s parents to discuss the progress of the coaching because the parents are the paying client.
B. The coach should directly let the parents know that it is not their business what the student and coach work on together.
C. The coach should review the confidentiality terms of the contract the parents signed and encourage the parents to reach out to their child.
D. The coach should let the client know that the student will need to set up a joint session between the coach and parents.
This question measures the coach’s awareness of the ICF Core Competency of Ethics and Standards concerning contracts. This question could be phrased in many different ways. Consider the following formula:
Sponsor hires Coach to coach Client. Sponsor seeks confidential information on Client. How should the Coach respond?
The Sponsor could be an employer, executive, parent, etc.; however, the same principles apply. Keep in mind that the Sponsor may be considered the “customer,” but the ICF guidelines specify that the client, the person being coached, is the one the coach is serving. A coach’s contract and marketing should reflect this.
Answer A: The coach should offer to setup a review session with the student’s parents to discuss the progress of the coaching because the parents are the paying client.
Answer A has the ring of “good service” to it. The warning sign on it is that the coach is stepping into the role of mediator between the client and the sponsor. This is not the purpose of the coaching arrangement, and by taking this action the coach will be putting the client in a position where their confidential coaching experience is more likely to be divulged to the sponsors.
Answer B: The coach should directly let the parents know that it is not their business what the student and coach work on together.
Answer B is our good answer. This answer sums up the reality of the situation for the sponsors of the client. However, this is not the best answer because it does not reflect an extra layer of professionalism which Answer C will demonstrate.
Answer C: The coach should review the confidentiality terms of the contract the parents signed and encourage the parents to reach out to their child.
Answer C is the best answer provided. It addresses how the confidentiality is something the Sponsor agreed to by pointing to the contract. This helps the conversation to stay more professional and objective. The coach demonstrates “Customer Care” by suggesting the most reasonable option for the Sponsor: to contact the client themselves to arrange this conversation.
Answer D: The coach should let the client know that the client will need to set up a joint session between the coach and parents.
Answer D is similar to Answer A in that it pictures the coach as the bridge between the Sponsor and the Client. This answer is the worst of the answers. It demonstrates that the Coach and the Sponsor have been discussing the client’s situation to an unknown degree. The client’s confidence in the coaching confidentiality will now be much lower than before.
If you are interested in more practice questions to use in preparation for the ICF’s Coach Knowledge Assessment, click this link.