Should Coaches Train to use Psychometric Tools?

Back to schoolThere are two types of coaches, those who are trained in using psychometric tools and those who are not but have contacts with those who are. At the moment if you are interested in training in using a psychometric tool you will need to be BPS (British Psychological Society) Level A and Level B Accredited. No one is allowed to use such tools without this basic training. There is a register kept by the BPS of all those who are formally trained.This gives you the basic qualification to understand what psychometrics tools aim to do, what they can actually do and how to administer them. However, you would once having gained the basic qualification then have to train in each of the individual tools that you are interested in. I am sorry to say that this is expensive.

There are so many such tools on the market that you have to think carefully about which ones you are interested in and why you would want to use them. The Myers Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) is a well used psychometric that provides information on personality type. It gives the recipient an insight into how they operate and the pros and cons of their personality type. It is probably one of the oldest types of psychometric tools on the market and nearly everyone knows of it. However, there are many other psychometric tools.

For example, the Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) provides in-depth information on how individuals fit within a work environment, how they will work with others and their performance potential against job competencies.The OPQ can make a major contribution to achieving person-to-job fit by providing line managers with business-relevant reports into the strengths and development areas of applicants.The OPQ can also be used as a development tool by providing an indication of the candidate’s perception of their preferred behavioural style at work and likely performance against important job competencies.

There are so many psychometric tools on the market that it is not possible to list them all. What is important is that you think about what you would need the tool to do to serve your client group. For example, The Hogan Business Reasoning Inventory (HBRI) evaluates a person’s ability to solve problems and make business-related decisions, providing a prediction of performance. More specifically, the HBRI evaluates two kinds of problem solving, tactical and strategic reasoning. For selection purposes, Hogan Business Reasoning Inventory is an excellent accompaniment to the Hogan Preferences Inventory and the Hogan Development Survey, combining measures of performance and personality to ensure the most reliable prediction of occupational success.

However, there are other questionnaires that do not require you to be Level A or Level B accredited and such a tool is the Type A questionnaire. This provides basic data into whether an individual is energetic, competitive and driven or has a more measured style. Such a tool can be an excellent way to help an individual understand their own personality and the pros and cons of this.

Given that the basic Level A and Level B training validated by the British Psychological Society (BPS) is costly, some coaches chose to use free questionnaires or may decide to work with a colleague who is accredited in a specific tool. In such cases the coach and the person qualified to administer and give the feedback meet with the client and then the coach picks up on the points made during the feedback session. Both approaches can work well.

Psychometrics tools are only a guide and are not to be treated as the Holy Grail. Any psychometric or questionnaire provides a series of possibilities about how the client responds and gives insight into behaviour, thoughts and feelings. However, this is all they are meant to do.  Individuals may disagree with the findings and when this happens the coach needs to be sensitive to this. It does not mean the client is wrong and the psychometric is right.

Those who have used psychometrics for a long time are usually very humble about what they can and can’t achieve. On the one hand they can speed up the coaching process because they provide useful insights and on the other they are only a guide. Used wisely and with caution psychometrics can be a useful addition to a coaching programme and when used as gospel they can become a stumbling block.

Tips on using psychometric tools

1. Think about what psychometrics can offer?  Why do you want to use them and for what purpose?
2. Get the basic training which will allow you to then decide on which tool or tools you want to use.
3. Never totally believe that the psychometric tool is right and the client is wrong as such tools are guides and not absolutes.

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