Let me start this post with a short personal story. You will see that it is very relevant for professional contract coaching.

This weekend, my twelve-year-old daughter cycled for the first time all the way to the top of the local “col de l’Arzelier”. That’s my favorite climb due to its proximity from home, the distance [12 km climb, 850 height meters] and the variety of views. Needless to say that I was a proud father cycling together. But how did she achieve this?

The starting conditions

  • She is in good physical shape by just being active the way kids are; she doesn’t do any intensive sports in club activity.
  • She had never done any substantial uphill cycling. When the road starts climbing, kids quickly give up when feeling the pressure in those legs.
  • Since quite a bit of time, I had been saying that my dream was to cycle with the kids up this col de l’Arzelier and, if they succeeded, they would get something really good.
  • We didn’t foresee  to take the challenge that day. It was decided at the last minute because it was nice weather. It was also a good objective to make something great and special out of that day in the middle of summer holidays.

How did it go?

Of course, it wasn’t easy. From the first kilometer onward she was already complaining. She cried three times before reaching the top. She stopped a hundred times to rest, sometimes after as little as 30 m.

What made the difference?

    • The road signposts that signal how many km are left till the top allowed us to break down the track in manageable parts.
    • Above all, what made the difference is what she could find in herself both as mental and physical strength: HER drive.
    • I never forced her, only encouraged her. I even gave her the possibility to stop at any point of time. But she had that great drive to achieve that target (and maybe to get some unidentified reward). HOWEVER without the presence of someone encouraging her (a coach), there was a 99% probability that she had given up before reaching the top.

 

Parallel with professional life:

For my daughter, it was almost unlikely that she would make it all the way to the top. It’s much easier to give up. Everything had to go well. While the achievement had to come from herself, the coaching certainly made a good contribution.

Contract negotiations are often comparable to cycling up a “col” in the Alps. I’ve participated to many. Some have taken years, in very difficult circumstances with huge pressure from the Customer, fundamental changes inside the company I was working for, impatience to conclude etc. Walking away would have been easy (e.g. by changing jobs) but the drive existed to succeed.

Due to the unforeseeable time to conclude contract negotiations, relying too heavily on external support (like external legal counsel) can get your costs to accumulate astronomically. I’ve seen this happen many times. Costs, in view of uncertain duration, are better controlled with in-house resources. But these may be lacking that bit of experience to pull it off. That is when Contract Coaching makes all its sense. Your in-house negotiators need to have that assurance that they can draw from some experience, some encouragement, someone that did it before and can make them believe they can also achieve the targets.

What can Contract Coaching bring to your organization?

Contract Coaching is a flexible way to provide support to your team over a longer period of time. It develops them. That’s where the YOU in the title comes from (the emphasis by using capital letters is on purpose ). On the personal life example, my daughter knows she did it and, even more importantly, she now knows forever that she can do it (again and again). She has changed here reference scale.

Externalizing too much your contract management and negotiation doesn’t enable your company’s staff to develop themselves. Contract Coaching brings this usually at a much smaller cost which is even capitalized as an investment in the future.

If you can make  such an in-house coach available, good for you; you  will certainly have your organization benefit from it. But, let’s face it, such internal coaches are rare, internal resources are reducing and the experienced persons are often promoted to management jobs.

If you believe Contract Coaching is interesting, you can write a comment here below or get in touch with us.

 


Jan Bouckaert

Jan Bouckaert is a FIDIC Certified Adjudicator (President's list) with 25 years of worldwide experience in negotiation of complex construction, renewable energy, power and infrastructure projects. He is also specialized in contract management, project controls and alternative dispute resolution. During Jan’s career path, he lived in France, Belgium, Egypt, India and Portugal and worked for GE Renewable Energy, Alstom Hydro, Besix/Six Construct. He is a Civil Engineer from the University of Leuven (Belgium) and has an MBA from ISEG (Portugal). He speaks fluently English, French, Portuguese and Dutch. Jan is the founder of AfiTaC, a company giving advice on international tenders and contracts., and Managing Director of Proove SAS. Be welcome to connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/afitac/

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