Working in a triad with two owners of the company gives a coach interesting challenges and discoveries. In my practice, there were several contracts where I worked simultaneously with two co-founders. I am glad to share the principles I adhere to in my work.
It all starts with the rules
Upon signing the coaching agreement, it is worth proposing work rules that will enhance the effectiveness of coaching interaction between the tree of you. At the same time, as you start coaching, be prepared to once in a while bring the listed rules up as an ultimatum.
I recollect facing a situation when two business partners refused to go into a frank conversation with each other. A reminder that coaching costs money and time returned them back on a constructive track.
Openness instead of politeness
Business owners are leaders, proactive people who stand their grounds, and for some reason decided to run a business together. Politeness required in business etiquette may misguide the coaching dialogue.
Coaching is possible only in the context of openness and trust, so I strongly urge the founders working together to be as honest with each other as possible. Do not try to iron it out, or give “convenient” answers.
Though some confessions require courage, they must be made to work effectively with a coach.
With the clients’ permission, I’m sharing this example: one of the founders wanted to dive deep in the managerial experience, be immersed in the work on a daily basis, while another one was planning to leave the country and quit all the operational activities. The conversation became productive only after both openly shared their intentions.
Such discoveries, when made for the first time in several years as business partners speak frankly, can be truly annoying. Think of a family, where loving wife left the hard crust of bread for herself because she thought her husband doesn’t like it, while the poor husband was dreaming of that crispy delicious crust for years…
Such stories often come to life in meetings dedicated to task sharing. Only given the atmosphere of openness can one declare their intentions and desires, deal with a conflict of interests or decide what to do with “unpleasant” tasks.
Equal share of attention
Simultaneous work with two clients requires double attention from the coach. Prepare to be doubly observant and involved to maintain this doubled coach position.
But the main challenge for the coach is the balance of attention between the two clients. The slightest shift to one of the parties will be instantly felt by the other. This work on the balance perfectly develops the “coaching presence” competence.
As in individual coaching contract, while working with a pair of founders, it is important to regularly measure the progress in terms of the two results.
The one your clients want to achieve after a certain time (for example, in a year) and the result to which they want to arrive at the result of working with you (for example, in 3-4 months).
What skills are required to work in a triad with two business founders?
✔ ICF Coach Competencies
✔ Being able to create trusting relationships
✔ Ability to clearly explain your role in this coaching contract
✔ Basic team coaching skills
Author: Katerina Kostyukova
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