Coaching expectations

Coaching in business is by no means a new phenomenon, but it can be difficult to know what to expect. ICF explains what to anticipate from the experience


If you are exploring coaching for the first time, you are likely to have questions around expectations. Perhaps you don’t know what to expect in a coach or what the process itself will look like. Below are eight things you can expect from your coaching experience. All of the data comes directly from the 2012 International Coaching Federation (ICF) Global Coaching Study.

Despite the stereotype of an angry male gym coach shouting and religiously blowing a whistle, in actual fact your coach is likely to be a well-educated middle-aged woman. Two in three professional coaches are women. The age range of most coaches is between 46 and 55. And 60 percent of them hold a Master’s Degree or PhD.

Specialities and services
It is likely that your coach offers more than coaching as part of their services. An astounding 94 percent of coaches indicated that they offer one or more services in addition to coaching. These include: consulting (62 percent); training (60 percent); facilitating (50 percent); mentoring (34 percent); and teaching (29 percent). If you wish to receive any of these extra services as part of your coaching partnership, you are encouraged to ask potential coaches what they are trained in.

It is likely that your coach offers more than coaching as part of their services

Furthermore, your coach probably specialises in one of the five leading coach vocations. The most likely of which is leadership (23 percent). Other common specialties include businesses (15 percent); executive coaching (15 percent); life vision and enhancement (13 percent); and career focus (seven percent).

Through your coaching engagement, your coach will likely address at least one of six main areas. According to the survey, the most common is personal growth (38 percent), closely followed by interpersonal relationships (32 percent) and self-esteem (28 percent).

Communication skills and team effectiveness were rated at a similar importance to coaches (26 percent), with work/life balance (25 percent) completing the main six areas.

The fee for a one-hour coaching session varies significantly depending on your job title.

Averages range from $350 for executives; $240 for managers; $220 for business owners; $170 for team leaders; and $120 for staff members or personal clients. It’s important to note that in addition to coaching specialty, fees are also charged based on level of experience of the coach and vary by location.

Timing it right
You can expect your coaching engagement to last at least four months. Half of all coaching engagements last between four and six months. However, the ultimate length of time will vary depending on your needs and preferences. Factors that will play into the length of your coaching engagement include the goals you hope to reach, the way you prefer to work, and the frequency of your coaching meetings.

For clients everywhere but North America, your coach likely prefers to deliver coaching face-to-face, (North American coaches prefer to deliver coaching via telephone). Globally, 66 percent of coaches work with clients on a face-to-face basis. No matter how your sessions are delivered, your coach may ask you to complete specific actions inbetween sessions that support the achievement of your personally prioritised goals. These actions might come in the form of relevant articles, checklists, assessments, or models, to support your thinking and actions.

Now that you know what the average coaching partnership looks like, you are ready to build the foundation for your own. You can begin your search on the ICF website. All ICF Credentialed coaches are searchable through an online directory called the ICF Coach Referral Service (CRS). This free public resource will allow you to tailor your search for a qualified coach based on specific criteria – be it the coach’s professional experience, coaching method, language preference, or even fee charged. Choose a handful of coaches you might be interested in working with and interview each thoroughly. From there, you should be able to make an educated decision on the best coach for you and your needs.

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