I often get requests to coach groups or teams and use an assessment. While we may prefer to do straight coaching, what I call “content-free” coaching, we shouldn’t let this kind of request keep us from getting to work with these clients.
For someone who’s been in coaching for a while and is not sure where to focus next, an assessment can provide that roadmap. For someone who’s new to coaching and still unsure of its value, assessments offer tangible and concrete outcomes.
Sometimes people lean on assessments as a way of keeping a group or team focused. The assessment can be an anchor, and add another layer to what the coach is already providing. Otherwise, people and conversations can go off course and lose their way back.
Years ago when I was starting out as a coach, I used a ton of assessments, then gradually got away from them. Now the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way and I recently worked with a group who saw particularly good results from using an assessment.
They received a lot of good information about themselves and what was going on in their workplace. They gained a new lens to look at each other and their work together. Maybe that’s the real value of bringing in an assessment. You not only get the outside perspective of a coach who is seeing things through a different lens but this way everyone can. A side bonus? They also laughed a lot!
So which assessment tool should you use? I recommend being skilled in a few different assessments such as Myers-Briggs, DiSC®, and Clifton StrengthsFinder (now known as CliftonStrengths). Then when you’re speaking to team leaders you can talk about the options and let them choose. You may also want to recommend one tool over the others once you’ve learned more about the team and their situation and needs.
No matter which assessment tool I’m using, I still keep my coaching hat on. I want people to know we’re not here to fix the problem, this is a lens to see how they might be better at what they’re doing.
To stay in coach mode, I created a spreadsheet of their results and we looked them over together. I asked the group what they noticed about their assessment results, instead of telling them what I saw and how I interpreted that.
In this case, we had used CliftonStrengths so we had a map of the team members’ strengths in the four domains of strategic thinking, executing, influencing, and relationship building, and the themes that help people express those strengths.
One of the things that jumped out to them was that there was only one person on the team with one particular strength, and that person happened to be retiring in the next year. “Hmmm,” I asked, “what does this mean for your team in the future? And what does it mean for your team right now?”
Once this was out in the open people said, “Yeah, that is true,” but it hadn’t been a conscious awareness for everyone. The assessment brought this reality and potential skills gap to the surface in a way that it normally wouldn’t.
We must be careful not to hold the assessment too tight. It’s a tool, not a diagnosis. It’s just one way to look at things. Some people in the group wondered, does this mean we’re not a good team? As a coach, it was my job to remove judgment from the equation and use the assessment results as a springboard for conversation about how these topics had been showing up in the workplace – not how they had shown up on the test.