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How Important are Psychometric Tests in Business Coaching?

Brown tiles spelling out the phrase who are you

Psychometric testing is big business.

There are endless options out there gauging everything from psychological fitness to cognitive ability, skills and performance.

An individual can be sliced and diced in many different ways.

Many companies now use it as part of their recruitment process.

But what role should it play in your business coaching?

It is a question we are often asked during our business coaching training and is a topic covered on our new online ILM Level 5 course in effective coaching and mentoring.

And we thought we should also explore it in our business coaching blogs.

What role do these tests play? When should they be introduced? What if someone refuses to take part in one? How can you make the results relevant to the coaching?

To answer these questions – and more - I caught up with business coach Tienie Loubser.

“Psychometrics in coaching is a choice of the individual and not the choice of the coach,” he told me.

“The value is that it gives you an-in-the moment understanding of emotional intelligence, motivation, behavioural traits and competency.

“It validates something in a two-dimensional space that the individual needs to work on as a three-dimensional being.”

So, when should psychometric testing take place?

Tienie says this should be discussed in a meeting before the first coaching session.

“Ideally, you would want to do the test around the second or third session,” he said.

“It is something to discuss in the meeting before the first coaching session.

“Where possible, I don’t assess people before coaching because I don’t want people to feel like they are on the back foot in that first coaching session and them sitting there thinking, ‘what does he know about me that the psychometric report has revealed’?

“You need to build that rapport first. Psychometric testing is there to validate a particular change that is required. You don’t want to get into a position where it gives you, as a coach, preconceived ideas and biases.”

What about those who do not want to take part in psychometric testing? Could this prevent them from fully benefitting from coaching?

Tienie said: “I don’t think saying no to psychometric coaching prevents someone from getting the full benefits.

“If they say ‘no’ and you as the coach struggle to deal with that, it says more about you than them.

“It could simply be that they don’t feel comfortable doing the test at that point. But they could get to the sixth session and feel they have the rapport with you that gives them the trust needed to do it.

“And it is fine to do the test at that point.

“If they decided not to have a psychometric test, they would still benefit from the coaching.

“The test isn’t a pre-requisite for coaching. I’ve done a lot of coaching with no psychometric input.”

Let’s say the person receiving coaching decides to do a test. Maybe they do more than one test. How do coaches interpret the result and make them relevant to the aims of the business coaching?

“I think that, as a coach, you need an understanding of psychometrics,” Tienie said.

“If you don’t, it can be a bit risky.

“When someone I am coaching has their psychometric report, I say to them ‘these are the things we are working on in the coaching – as you read your report, draw from it what you think would help you achieve those aims and what would hinder it’.

“Then they read it with a lens of relevance rather than ‘oh my god, it says this about me’.

“As a coach, you need to position how they read the report.”

I wondered what happens if someone doesn’t like part of their test findings.

“With any psychometric assessment out there, there is a 75 per cent chance it is correct,” said Tienie.

“The 25 per cent tends to be affected by things being revealed that the person tested can’t face yet.

“I tell people to go through the report and put a pencil mark against the bits they don’t agree with. Sometimes it may just be a sentence here or a word there. But overall, they feel it is 80 to 90 per cent accurate.

“And that is what you are looking for – an orientation towards a particular pattern, rather than the punitive nit-picking of what isn’t working.

“If they don’t like something, get them to draw a line through it and tell them it doesn’t count for the report.

“Everything taken out still gives an orientation towards a particular pattern or behaviour.”

There are many psychometric tests available. At the BCF Group, we use four main ones. A personality assessment called Trait-Map, an emotional intelligence assessment called EQ-SWOT, motivational questionnaires and 360 surveys that elicit feedback from other sources including managers, peers and reports.

“Some people want to do all the tests,” said Tienie.

“But it all depends on what you are trying to work on when coaching. Sometimes a 360 is not relevant.

“I think emotional intelligence is always a good one, especially in today’s times. It is the discovery of what you are good at. Am I good at managing my thoughts and impulses? Or am I good at managing what I see other people do and their reaction to that? It is all about me, and the people around me, and it can be a good one to lead with from a coaching point of view.”

If you have been on our online ILM Level 5 course in effective coaching and mentoring, you will have heard Tienie say that, when it comes to psychometric testing, you need to think about an elephant.

What does that mean?

Tienie said: “The front right foot is behaviour. Back right foot is its motivation, pushing it forward. Back left foot and tail is the 360 measurement of the elephant. And the front left foot is emotional intelligence. Altogether, that makes up the elephant.

“So, when someone says ‘let’s do a 360 on you’ or ‘let’s do an emotional intelligence test’, you need to be clear why you are measuring this for the individual and how it fits in with the coaching.

“Everything in coaching needs to have relevance.

“It is also crucial for everyone to be aware that when you do any psychometric test, it is not a casting stone.

“The tests provide a leaning towards a particular trait or behaviour. It is a snapshot of a moment in time. It doesn’t mean it is that person’s future or their whole being.

“They can do something about it if they want to – and if they are having coaching, they probably do.”

Find out more about our Paradigm® business psychometric profilers by clicking here.

The BCF group has been helping organisations develop their talent, inspire their people and overcome obstacles and challenges for the past 25 years.

We deliver training that makes a difference. Find out more about our business coaching, management training and interpersonal skills options.

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