First let me draw a distinction between what most companies call “continuing education” and coaching. There is usually a budget line for skill development each year for the people within most companies. This can be online videos to watch or conferences to attend in order to be compliant in some industries in the areas of safety and skill development. But this is only one side of the development coin. The other side is behavior development (what some call soft skills) and it is the reason for the vast majority of employee dismissals. People tend to get hired for their skills and fired for their behavior. You don’t need to look too far for examples in professional sports for those who are highly gifted in the area of talent (skills) but are a train wreck in the behavior department. Millions of dollars of income are lost every year in fines, lost endorsements and being let go because the drama is just not worth it. If you have worked in business for more than a few months I am sure you can name some extremely talented coworkers who flamed out due to less than optimal behavior. Hiring a trusted coach can be the best money you ever spend on professional as well as personal development.
Coaching costs vary significantly depending on the industry and area of the country you are located. Some coaches break down their fee based upon an hourly rate. Executive coaching in major metropolitan areas can start around $250 per hour on the low end. It can be $500 to $1,000 per hour or more on the upper end. Other coaches prefer to charge for engagements over a period of time. These tend to be monthly, quarterly or annual engagements and can be anywhere from $500 to $10,000 a month.
Fees tend to be higher when companies are paying for the coaching. When a company is covering all of the costs of coaching a concern can be that the client doesn’t have enough skin in the game to work hard and get the most out of the time. In this situation, most coaches spend time on the front end to insure they have the client’s buy-in early. I have passed on some clients who were not that motivated to grow.
When someone wants coaching and the company is not willing to pay for it, I like to ask the question, “How much is your professional and personal growth worth to you?” I think it is wise to use a guideline to gauge how much to spend for coaching. Depending on your circumstances, I think between 2-4% of annual income is worth investing in yourself in this way. Keep in mind that while the cost of coaching may seem high, the benefits can outweigh the costs in terms of career advancement, personal growth and improved leadership skills. Some corporations with internal coaching programs have quantified the value at as much as ten times the cost. You will never know the cost of the future problems avoided by the results a good coaching experience can bring.