The coach’s own self-assessment builds the foundation for assessing the needs of the coachee and establishing an effective coaching relationship with him or her. The following are some of the most significant benefits of assessment tools to the coaching process.
Assessment Provides Shortcuts to Understanding the Coachee: As discussed in the previous chapter, the process of developing the coachee’s balance sheet provides the coachee with tools to improve performance. Once the coaching challenges are established by identifying the tension created between desired levels of performance and actual levels of performance, assessments will provide clues to how the coachee approaches situations and his or her potential for change. This requires reflection on past experiences and personal attributes. Formal assessment tools provide a comprehensive, efficient, and objective mechanism for measuring a coachee’s skills, behaviors, potential, preferences, and style, allowing a coach to probe deeper and to build the coachee’s balance sheet. This will allow the coach to better understand current challenges and to use the balance sheet as an instrument for change. This process provides the coach with insights to ask probing questions that may verify assessment findings and to relate these findings to the coachee’s desire for change.
Assessment Provides Valid Insights for the Coachee: Creating self-awareness is one of the initial steps of a coaching process. It can also be one of the most difficult steps. As the case study below illustrates, coachees may not be in touch with their true talents or how they are perceived by others. Coachees gain invaluable insights in these areas from assessment reports. A skilled coach presents even the most sensitive feedback in a user-friendly, objective, and actionable format.
Assessment Stimulates Reflection and Analysis: The comprehensive nature of an effective assessment process causes coachees to examine their assets as well as their liabilities. They may see skills they have not used in years, hidden potential in attributes they have not fully developed, triggers that cause both positive and negative emotional responses, and other indicators of behaviors in both professional and personal settings. Effective coaches can use assessment reports to ask probing questions and enable the coachee to identify specific situations where he or she has seen his or her assets and liabilities in play.
Assessment Facilitates an Individualized Coaching Approach: No two individuals are alike. Similarly, coaching processes must be customized to fit the unique needs of the individual. The right combination of assessment tools will yield a profile that demonstrates the unique attributes of the coachee, giving the coach an opportunity to tailor interventions to target the specific needs of the individual.
Assessment Provides a Team View: Self-awareness is a crucial step, but coachees can also benefit from understanding their bosses, peers, direct reports —even their spouses and life partners. The use of assessments in the coaching process for other members of the team can hasten the learning process for the coachee and provide opportunities for group coaching, team building, or mediation. Skilled coaches are prepared to work with groups and often facilitate sessions with their coachee and his or her team. Topics for group sessions can include identifying the competencies necessary for future success, identifying team assets and liabilities, valuing and capitalizing on the unique traits of individual team members, and building stronger communication despite opposing styles.
Assessment Produces Metrics for Success: You can’t manage what you can’t measure—and if you can’t manage it, you leave success to chance. Assessments provide metrics—valid and reliable measures of an individual’s most important attributes. Assessment scores help to benchmark strengths and identify areas for improvement. And, 360-degree feedback tools can be utilized throughout the development cycle to gauge progress. Follow-up 360-degree feedback will demonstrate whether or not coaching has led to desired results.
In sum, assessments can greatly enhance the coaching process by providing insights and clues to help both the coach and coachee create the framework for change.