Students on my Accredited Coaching Diploma often ask me about the value and use of psychometrics in Coaching.
As with any tool there are advantages and disadvantages. It is worth considering carefully before you reach for the psychometrics questionnaire. Ask yourself, “will this help or hinder my clients process?”
There are many psychometrics out there and it is worth noting that all personality profiles are measuring the same thing. Each will have a different way of expressing traits, personality and behaviour and yet all are essentially looking at what it means to be a human being.
When you chose a psychometric it really is mainly about preference. I have some favourites and a few I use more sparingly. The points below can really be applied to any psychometric test.
There are several good reasons to use psychometrics:
- To start the conversation, particularly where the client lacks self-awareness about their own behaviour and responses.
- Where the client is experiencing conflict with others psychometrics can help expand their understanding of group dynamics and how to develop new strategies for interaction.
- Some clients need some kind of convincer to help them see the value of coaching and the somewhat objective nature of psychometrics can provide a platform for this.
- Some clients are genuinely curious and may request a profile and this can be a fun way to explore behaviours and options.
There are some important drawbacks to psychometrics that also need to be considered. The most important, in my view, is to ensure the client does not think their profile is who they are. There is a risk that the client may feel they are in a pigeon hole and that their choices are limited. People are not pigeons! While many psychometrics have a lot of research behind them, other do not. I always recommend that profiles should not be taken seriously, they are merely a tool for development. This can make it easier for a client to step back and review how the profile reflects on their experience.
As an example, Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is arguably one of the most rigorous and well researched psychometrics available. Even with such a well-researched tool the test, retest reliability is only 70% if taken within six months of the first measure.
What does test, retest reliability mean?
If you take MBTI psychometric test and then take it again within six months there is a 70% chance that you will have the same profile as the first time. This percentage diminishes over time. It is worth saying here that statistically these figures are high and the test is a good one. However it is a good reminder about how in reality results are very open to change.
A second reason to be cautious is when working with the over-analytical client. This type of client may get so caught up in analysing that they miss the point. The psychometric just
becomes another way to avoid making changes.
Another type of client who may not benefit could be someone stuck in “victim” mentality. Where a person feels helpless and overwhelmed a psychometric can just add to this feeling.
All in all, psychometrics are useful tools when used as an aid to coaching. What do you think? What is your experience of using psychometrics? Do you have a favourite?