Psychometric Assessments and Coaching

Feb 15, 2018

This is a guest post by Rahul Baswani. Rahul was recently featured as a speaker at Coacharya Coaching Colloquium, our monthly webinar on topics in coaching and leadership. You can watch Rahul’s session you YouTube or by scrolling to the bottom of this post.

Psychometric assessments play an integral role in accelerating the executive coaching journey. If used well, assessments can act as the flash light needed to delve deeper into conversations and help the client arrive at meaningful and relevant coaching goals. If led well by an able coach, psychometric assessments and coaching can make a formidable team. Let’s understand the role of coaching and assessments individually.

For success of a coaching engagement, it’s critical that the executive coach remains objective and provides safe, non-judgemental space where the coachee can open up and share freely. Trained executive coaches have access to a repertoire of tools that facilitate the creation of an objective space. A couple of most powerful tools are global listening and the ability to do relevant, expansive questioning. These two ensure that the coachee is being heard at the deepest level of one’s potential and is being adequately pushed to create powerful insights.

A coach also creates inclusion and openness via rapport and helps the individual to self-scrutinise and arrive at the story behind the story. The more accurate the diagnostics, the higher the chances of making the desired movement in the pre-determined time frame of a coaching engagement. We can safely say that power of a coaching engagement is in the accuracy and robustness of its coaching contract.

Ironically, assessments are children of war. Chinese and Germans were the first people to use assessment centers to find strong officers for their army. The truth remains that whether we take a test or not – we all evaluate and assess each other constantly through various interactions every day. This mental chess goes hand in hand with one of the most basic human needs which is ‘to make meaning’.

There are different ways in which assessments are designed. A psychometric test may aggregate personal self-measure or instead provide comparative data. Depending on the nature of the intervention, coaches may use one assessment over another. Workplace relies on external evaluation to determine reward or punishment for its employees. This workplace measure is reputational in nature. It’s the impact that an individual creates that goes into determining the course of his career progression in a complex matrix environment. To be fully self-aware, an individual needs to self-determine intention but it becomes equally critical to understand impact of one’s choices on others. The difference between intent and impact should be watched out for.

Assessments bring in the element of much needed objectivity in a coaching engagement and keep judgment forming at bay. A few critical things to remember while using assessments is that it provides a directional map and not a reality and is best confirmed with coachee’s/ client’s own experience to maintain neutrality. Human beings and their experiences is bigger than any data. Assessments give us data that is used to establish the current starting point in the client’s coaching journey. It helps to understand WHY someone does few things well and falls short elsewhere.

It tells us what counterproductive behaviours are brought forth in an individual at the times of stress and pressure. How does one react to one’s perception of threat – does one become aggressive or retreat in a shell or becomes over compliant. Some assessments also help us in understanding one’s drivers and motivators. These in turn help in predicting the level of engagement an individual is likely to feel in a given company culture or the leadership culture one is likely to create as a leader.

Assessment is merely a tool for coaches to skip forward a session or two and move straight to the story behind the presented concern. From symptoms to the root cause at a faster speed. Given the time constraints of a coaching engagement, gaining a couple of extra sessions is always rewarding. We need to remember that personality is relatively fixed and coaching engagement need not target change of personality. The goal is to help individuals develop behaviours that mitigate unproductive effects on others and dial up positive impact on stakeholders.

Rahul’s Colloquium is embedded below. Please accept our apology for the video quality. We hope that the audio is sufficient for you to get value out of listening.

Smita Raghum
Smita Raghum


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