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Part II – 4 Lessons I’ve learned to help with such decisions:

1. Be very clear up front about the limits of confidentiality, which typically is that the content of the discussions between you and your coachee are privileged between you and your coachee and, yet, the process (e.g., is your coachee attending sessions, making process, following through on assignments, etc.), is shared by both you and your coachee to the organization (HR and the coachee’s manager).

2. Also agree up front that all 1:1 discussions you have with anyone (such as stakeholders during a 360, your HR contact, or your coachee’s manager) remain confidential between you and that person. Also write this into each Statement of Work.

3. After any 360 interviews and during the early agenda setting meeting (to identify coaching goals) with you, your coachee, and your coachee’s manager and HR business partner, state that any future conversation the manager or HRBP wants to have about your coachee should be set up through the coachee and, ideally, the coachee should be present during such discussions.

4. If you find yourself speaking to your coachee’s manager without your coachee’s knowledge, be sure to tell the manager that you need to share with your coachee that the two of you spoke and negotiate exactly what you will share, which will depend on various circumstances of the situation.

By the way, the answer to Who’s the Client – Your Coachee or the Organization,” is, of course, that they are both your client!

-Dr. Jeff Kaplan

Dr. Jeff Kaplan is a business psychologist and executive coach who coaches executives and high potentials to lead with heart. Jeff helps leaders to work more collaboratively with others, recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest asset.