|Using Psychometrics in
Passmore (2008) explain that a psychological test is a standardized
measure of one or more psychological attributes. Within coaching attributes of
interest include personality, career interests, values, motivational needs and
It is explained that psychological tests can
measure a broad or narrow domain of individual behaviour and personality
Allworth and Passmore review four kinds of
1. Multidimensional measures of personality
assess attributes or traits such as achievement drive, sociability,
self-control, flexibility or empathy for example. Individual personality
attributes are compared with those of others from a 'norm' group such as the
general population or accountants.
Allworth and Passmore explain that measures of personality
are based on the accepted premise that all personality attributes are
represented on five core attributes of:
However, research suggests
that a measure of these factors alone may be too limited to be of practical
value in the coaching context. Hence more informative scales have been
developed that include subscales of the five factors. For example;
friendly, sociable or assertive-subscales of
- Openness to Experience
- Neuroticism (Emotional Stability)
personality type (typology) define a specific set of behavioural
tendencies, reflecting broad differences in attitudes and orientation (i.e.
measures of personality profile individuals across a range of individual
attributes to identify those that represent their preferences. Personality
measures are popular with coaches because they can provide a fairly succinct
description of the individual across a manageable number of
Special purpose tests
are also used to measure specific aspects of behaviour such as leadership
style, team orientation, sales orientation and intelligence.
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2. Vocational interests
Allworth and Passmore, citing Fine (1955), explain that vocational interest
theories categorize jobs and careers into those that involve working with
either, people, data or things. Occupational preferences are also closely
linked to personality style. Citing Holland
(1997) the example is given of artists who often describe themselves
as creative, expressive and independent, compared to accountants who tend to
describe themselves as stable, organized or dependable.
Interest inventories enable insights into occupational areas
that coaches may not have previously considered.
Motivational needs and values questionnaires
Allworth and Passmore explain that questionnaires and
tools that assess motivational needs and values focus on one or more four
- How the
person likes to be rewarded.
- Kind of
management style that brings out the best in the person.
- Kind of
work environment that the person prefers.
Such assessments may
be of value to coachees dissatisfied with their current role, or when
considering alternative job options. An insight into the extent to which needs
or values are likely to be met can inform decisions concerning
4. Cognitive Ability
Allworth and Passmore
explain that whilst such tests can be good predictors of overall job
performance there are associated risks. Because cognitive function is less
amenable to change coachees may feel a sense of powerlessness.
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psychological testing in coaching
Profiling approach where the emphasis is on
building awareness and understanding of the coachee's attributes such as his or
her abilities, interests and personality style compared with those of a
relevant norm group.
Insights gained from psychological testing can include:
In conclusion Allworth and Passmore explain
that the profiling approach is most commonly applied with those clients who are
looking for new direction or to resolve a particular issue that is simply
impacting on their life or career.
the coachee's relative strengths and areas for development.
- A profiling
approach can also provide insights into how an individual's personal.
attributes compare with those of others in a particular reference or norm
developmental needs, future personal and career goals, or simply understanding
why a person thinks and behaves the way they do.
A criterion-orientated approach, in addition to individual
profiling, will also consider the job and organizational context. This could be
for assessing potential career progression, fit with current role, or
developmental needs with regard to current or future roles. Here the
individual's profile is compared to such criteria as actual or potential
performance on a particular aspect of a job, potential for training, or job
Allworth and Passmore stress that both individuals and
organizations ideally adjust to meet each other's requirements such that the
individual is satisfied with the rewards of the role and the organization finds
that person's performance satisfactory..
Benefits for coach
prediction of job performance and other work-related outcomes
awareness of individual style, preferences and capabilities
- Open up new
avenues for exploration
for feedback, goal-setting and planning for change