Using psychometrics in coaching

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Psychometrics can be used as part of coaching to make the whole process even more effective. Follow these 15 simple steps to get the most out of your coaches and coachees.

Coaching is a growing area. What was once a privilege for a select few is becoming a mainstream activity in organisations regardless of size, sector or seniority. More and more companies and coaches are using psychometrics during coaching too. Mark Batey, head of global open programmes at Manchester Business School shares his 15 steps for success in using psychometrics in coaching. 

Pre-coaching

1. Establish a psychometrics policy. Make it transparent how psychometrics will be chosen, how they will be used and build trust in the process by explaining the confidentiality relating to data and any written reports.

2. Identify objectives. These may be the goals of the organisation, but will often include individual or team objectives as well.

3. Understand the coachee. Choosing the best psychometric and/or coach should start with the needs, orientations and objectives of the coachee. Have they been through the process before? What is their existing understanding?

4. Choose psychometric tools. Try to find a balance between the quality of the tool (reliability, validity, fairness) and the needs of the coachee. The most comprehensive tool (or the simplest) is not always the best.

5. Choose a practitioner. It is essential that the practitioner is competent, genuinely understands the tool (there are many people out there who have been trained, but never used a measure in practice) and credible to the coachee.

6. Preparation. Build trust in the process. Clearly signpost what tool is being used, how and why. The best coaches use a mixture of pre-planned questions and flexibility during the coaching sessions. The aim of the preparation is to ensure that coachees understand what is happening and why.

During Coaching

7. Introduction. It is essential to provide a thorough introduction prior to using psychometrics in coaching. Use this time to set the coachee at ease, deal with any pre-conceptions and review objectives and how the session will be used.

8. Presenting results. The style should be professional, considerate, empathetic, but also objective and challenging. Some coaches present a blank profile of the results and ask the coachee to fill it in as they go through the interpretation process. Others share the complete results, while others will provide narrative feedback and not show any of the printouts or outputs to the coachee. 

9. Feedback structure. Some coachees will respond positively to a highly structured approach with a heavily prescribed process. Other coachees will prefer a less rigid approach. Try to select something that will be effective for the context.

10. Contextualise. Most psychometric tools are written in psychobabble and need a bit of work to make them ‘come alive’. Keep referring the results of the tool to the objectives and daily challenges of the coachee. 

11. Identify development. A good coaching conversation based around a psychometric will lead to valuable insight. Capture strengths and development areas and build these into a personal development plan. 

12. Debriefing. Usually a summary of the major points of discussion and the planned actions. Sometimes the organisation my be debriefed too; follow your psychometric policy 

Post-Coaching 

13. Be available. We often think of our best questions and find our best insights sometime after the session. If there are a limited number of coaching sessions it is helpful if the coach can be available for a brief catch-up or clarification. 

14. Track progress. Keep the momentum going. Coachees should regularly check in on their development plans. 

15. Evaluate. This is perhaps the most important, but most overlooked step. Did the coaching work? What has been its impact?

Mark Batey is joint chair of The Business of Coaching Conference 2014 to be held in Manchester in November. Delegates will explore practical themes, consider industry case studies and learn from one another, in an event focused on getting coaching to work

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