As an embodied leadership coach for professionals and executives, I am often approached by clients who have no prior experience working with a coach. One of the first questions they often ask is: how do I know if I’m ready?
Just underneath their question, a second, more nagging question often sits: how do I know if coaching will be worth the financial investment?
This is an important question to ask, whether you are planning to hire a coach outright, or ask your company for sponsorship. Hiring a great executive coach can be a significant financial commitment. For many women leaders, it may be the biggest non-urgent investment they’ve ever made in themselves. Therefore, it’s worth taking stock in advance of your situation, your goals, and your willingness to pursue them with vigor.
Most coaches do offer a discovery session or coaching taster, to get to know one another and help you set goals. But it's helpful to do some personal reflection first. Below is a list of scenarios in which you are likely to benefit greatly – both financially and otherwise – from working with a coach:
13 Signs That You’re Ready to Work with a Coach
- You believe you have more potential than you’re currently able to express at work.
- Your pay grade does not yet reflect the level or amount of work you are being asked to do.
- You have a vision for your company or industry than you have the time, energy or know-how to pursue.
- You see the solution to the problems everyone complains about, but you aren’t yet being heard.
- You are tired of feeling stuck in a position that doesn’t quite fit.
- You’ve just taken on an exciting new position that you know will stretch you.
- You’re being asked to do things that were exciting in the past, but that no longer interest you.
- You’re being asked to do things that you’ve never been able to do before, and you want to.
- You have a vision for your career that your boss has no interest, or no bandwidth, to support.
- You have a strong desire to make fuller use of your gifts and talents in your career.
- You have some big, untapped or unrealized professional goals that you care deeply about.
- You have some big, personal challenges that you need to solve in order to succeed at work.
- You are willing to challenge your own perspectives, take risks and stretch yourself, in order to achieve your goals.
If a number of these statements ring true, rest assured that you are ready to get the greatest possible benefit from an investment executive or professional coaching.
13 Major Benefits of Coaching
In each of those scenarios, the delta between what’s possible on your own, and what’s possible with regular and tailored support, is big enough to warrant hiring a coach. Below is a list of core benefits that you can expect to get from coaching:
- Gain a thought partner to share frustrations, brainstorm big ideas and discuss core challenges.
- Get confidential help to negotiate a promotion or a raise.
- Build courage to start important initiatives in your organization or industry.
- Get your time management and under control and cultivate work-life balance.
- Learn to capitalize on your strengths.
- Build confidence to speak publicly about your position to both small and large audiences.
- Advocate for your perspectives with boss, senior leaders and peers.
- Get support to work through tough or conflictual relationships.
- Build resilience and heal from past workplace traumas.
- See yourself clearly. Understand and trust your potential.
- Stop making the same professional mistakes over and over again.
- Feel less crazy, less confused and less alone.
- Supercharge your career trajectory, or the growth of your business, or both.
Should I Hire My Coach Outright, Or Ask My Company to Pay?
Many companies are willing to invest in an executive coach for both senior-level and high-performing employees who have less seniority. However, companies may choose to restrict their pool of coaches to those they have already vetted. This may significantly limit your options. Because the most important factor in a successful coaching relationship is the fit between the coach and the client, you may prefer to hire your coach directly to ensure that you get exactly the right coach for you. This is especially important when the company agenda differs from your personal or professional growth agenda. Some company coaches – especially “internal coaches” – may be under contract to stick with certain types of recommendations, or encourage your growth in a particular direction.
What’s more, hiring your own executive coach directly frees you up speak about highly confidential topics, including leaving the company and moving on to your next position, when the time is right. Many executives hire a coach specifically to take stock of what’s not working in their current role, to vision their future work, or to help them think through their transition plans. In this case, it may not make sense to ask the company to sponsor your coaching.
How Much Does High-Quality Coaching Cost?
The fees for professional and executive coaching vary greatly. As yet, coaching rates are not subject to standardization across the United States, or abroad. That said, when it comes to great coaching, you generally get what you pay for. A brand new coach (or a coach in training) may charge as little as $100-$200 per hour. These rates, however, are more common for general “life coaching,” and are often charged by coaches who have limited experience supporting clients – especially those in high-profile, high-stress professional environments. Coaches who help their clients get significant business results rightfully charge more.
An excellent professional coach or leadership coach who is skilled at working with leaders at the mid-tier level frequently charge between $6,000 to $15,000 for six to twelve months of support, or approximately $300-$650/hour.* The expectation at this level is that coaching will help the client advance, and ultimately earn more.
An excellent executive level coach may charge between $25,000 and $50,000 for six to twelve months of support, or approximately $500-$2000/hour.* The expectation at this level is that coaching will help the business advance, and ultimately earn more.
That’s a Lot! Will My Investment Be Worth It?
While these numbers may sound high, consider this: coaching support is designed to increase your professional impact, including upward mobility, salary increases and business revenue increases. If your expected annual salary increase is 5%, and your coach supports you to negotiate a promotion increasing that to 10, 15 or 20 percent, you will recoup your coaching fees within a single year. The same applies at the enterprise level. If you are new to coaching, consider dividing the coaching package fee across the number of years you’ve been in the workforce, or the number of years since you’ve received high-quality professional support. (e.g. If you’ve been working for ten years and have never engaged a coach, you’re looking at 1-2K per year – quite possibly far less than your average annual raise.) Again, the same logic can be applied at the enterprise level.
Many women who feel stuck in mid-tier roles inside of organizations are reluctant to invest in themselves. Likewise, many executives who feel their business needs to evolve in order to grow, feel reluctant to invest in themselves as part of the development strategy. Yet a great coach can, and will, help you get unstuck and make the forward progress you desire. Making the decision to invest in yourself professionally can help to anchor your own sense of worth and build a solid growth strategy, while generating greater motivation to achieve your goals.
How Much Time Does It Take?
An effective coaching engagement also requires an investment of time – and as they say, time is money. Typical coaching sessions run approximately 30-90 minutes (average being one hour), and take place every 1-4 weeks (average being bi-weekly). Counter-intuitively, however, an hour of coaching may save you a number of hours (and dollars) over the course of your week. For example, if you’re struggling to find common ground with one of your team members, you may choose to bring this topic to a session with your coach. If you coach knows you well, and brings years of wisdom helping clients navigate similar types of scenarios, you may come up with a plan together and take quicker, more effective action to resolve the conflict. This may save you several hours of preparation, triangulation, incomplete conversations and emotional stress. It may also save concrete dollars in cases where the conflict produced negative costs for the business, or even foreshadowed a necessary termination.
I encourage you not to rule out coaching if your life already feels full. My busiest clients report that our coaching sessions are not only worth it, but they serve as a much needed grounding force in their typically chaotic week.
How Can I Ensure That I Get What I Paid For?
The best – and most honest – answer to this question is: show up and do the work. If you are willing to challenge your own perspectives, stretch yourself and do what it takes to go after your goals, you can and will get results. Your new coach’s primary role is to help you succeed. That’s literally what you’ve paid for. He or she is invested 100% in your goals, with you and for you. When your new coach gives you assignments, do them. When he or she asks you a question, answer honestly. When you bring your full self to the table, you will be amazed at what’s possible in a short 6-12 months.
Curious what’s possible?
Go HERE to check out my recent client success stories.
Or, book a coaching discovery session today.
*Source: The Conference Board: Executive Coaching Fee Survey 2008.
For more about Cultivating Joy, check out Chapter 1 of my book Guts & Grace: A Woman's Guide to Full-Bodied Leadership on Amazon.