After contracting with clients, assessment is usually the next step in the process. Assessment involves collecting information from the client and others in order to provide the client with feedback. The feedback is then used as a guide in preparing an individualized developmental plan, which provides the foundation for the actual coaching process.
Self-assessment tools (see Exhibit 1) are given to clients so they can better understand themselves and their behavior. Some tools are focused on overall personality or “style,” while others concentrate on a particular aspect of personality, such as how conflict is handled. Various forms of 360-degree feedback provide information about the client from other members of the organization, customers, or partners. (The term “360” refers to feedback from all around the client, from bosses, peers or customers, and below.) The information is gathered through a series of structured interviews or standardized instruments or a combination of both. Once the information is gathered, the coach/trainer summarizes the information, highlights strengths and challenges, and gives feedback to the client. The themes that emerge provide information to the trainer/coach and client on what developmental needs to address during the training engagement. Observation is also useful in the assessment process; the trainer is able to see the client in a real working situation, for example, leading a meeting or making a presentation.
Exhibit 1. Selected Assessment Tools
|• Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
• I-Speak Your Language
• Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)
• BarOn EQ-i
• DiSC Classic Profile
|360-Degree Feedback Tools|
• Profilor by Personal Decisions Incorporated (PDI)
• Individual interviews
|• Staff meetings
• Other meetings
The tariner can then provide direct feedback while the event is occurring or immediately afterward.
Internal HR professionals can be helpful to external tariners/coaches because they know what instruments and assessment tools the company routinely uses as part of an overall development program and which ones the person being coached has already completed. Coaches will not want to duplicate the company’s assessment process, but may want to provide some additional tools beyond what the company provides.
In the next few sections, I explain some of the tools and their usefulness to trainers. I address self-assessment tools, 360-degree feedback instruments, interviews, and observation.
Self-Assessment Tools – are useful in pointing out the client’s specific behaviors, interpersonal needs, and styles.Trainers decide which tools they want the client to complete, based either on information from the initial interview with the client or on a predetermined set of instruments that are given to every client. My list is built on the instruments that I currently use. However, there are many more instruments that other tariners use.
The FIRO-B measures interpersonal needs in three areas: inclusion, control, and affection. For each of the three interpersonal needs, the FIRO-B provides a measure of how much each need is expressed or wanted by the client. The results show the various ways the client interacts with people. This tool, in combination with information from other assessment tools, can help the trainer and the client identify patterns of behavior that comprise the client’s leadership style.
Two surveys of personal styles that are based on the personality typology developed by Carl Jung are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and I-Speak Your Language.
The MBTI is better known and more comprehensive. The MBTI reveals the natural preferences of an individual or a team for focusing energy, gathering information, making decisions, and orienting to the external environment. I-Speak Your Language measures the relative likelihood of using each of four basic personality styles: Intuitor, Thinker, Feeler, and Sensor. Generally, a coach would choose one or the other to give to a client, not both.
The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) is used for understanding how people deal with conflict. The TKI helps the client discover which of five conflict-handling modes the client prefers to use, which may be overused, and which may be underused. Trainers can help their clients understand their preferred mode(s), the most appropriate uses of each mode, and how to expand their conflict repertoire by increasing their comfort level with least-preferred modes. This tool is easy to administer and takes about fifteen minutes to complete. Certification is not required.
DiSC Classic Profile builds on the work of William Moulton Marston. He theorized that human behavior could be studied based on a person’s actions in either a favorable or a stressful environment. The four dimensions that he identified are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. DiSC shows clients their individual behavioral styles and reveals the environment that is most conducive to success. It can be difficult to interpret. Certification is not required, but training is important to fully understand the results.
BarOn EQ-i is the first scientifically validated assessment of emotional intelligence, which can be defined as the capacity to create optimal results professionally and personally through our relationships with others and with ourselves. The assessment is administered online and provides scores for overall emotional intelligence and for five major scales: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Stress Management, Adaptability, and General Mood. There are also scores for fifteen subscales. Links between high emotional intelligence and effective performance have been demonstrated. Emotional intelligence can be learned, and a coach can use the EQ-i results to shape the client’s developmental planning. Certification is needed to understand how to interpret the results.
360-Degree Feedback Instruments . The various 360-degree feedback instruments allow clients’ managers, peers, and direct reports to answer survey questions and provide feedback on the clients’ specific behaviors and skills. Trainers should check to see whether the organization has a current and completed 360-degree instrument for the client. If so, the coach may decide to supplement or update the information by interviewing a small sample of the client’s circle to confirm the client’s leadership style, strengths, and challenges. The information is shared in the feedback phase of coaching. If the client has not completed a 360-degree instrument, coaches usually recommend tools with which they are most familiar or that are best suited for the organization in terms of cost, amount of data, and ease of understanding. There are dozens of 360-degree feedback tools; I am presenting only a small sample.
CheckPoint, by Profiles International, covers seventy specific job skills, which fall into eight major competencies and eighteen skill sets. The survey takes twenty to thirty minutes to complete. The resulting report is colorful and easy to read and understand. The report includes a developmental section that guides the client through specific activities that address developmental needs.
Interviews is my preferred method of collecting 360-degree feedback, as I can gather richer and more comprehensive information. I can easily customize my standard set of questions to reflect the preliminary concerns and issues I have heard from the client’s manager and/or from HR. However, interviews are time-consuming and, when the trainer is external, may not be cost-effective for the organization when multiple clients are involved. Whether the trainer is external or internal, when multiple clients are in the same department and use one another as peer responders for feedback, interviews may place too great a time burden on the responders.
Observation – Some clients benefit from having their trainers observe them in a meeting or giving a presentation. Trainers can give the clients unbiased opinions and helpful hints on how to improve the style and manner. Trainers and their clients decide which meetings would be useful for the coach to observe. Often they will choose staff meetings that the client leads. Sometimes clients want their tariners/coaches to observe them with customers or with their peers. In the ongoing training sessions, trainers will sometimes role play difficult situations with their clients. If they have already observed the client in a similar situation, the role play can be geared to highlight the specific behaviors the client needs to improve. Similarly, when trainers help clients prepare for a presentation, there is no more important data than having observed the client giving a previous presentation—whether at a staff meeting or in front of a larger audience.