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Using Assessments for Training and Coaching

We’ve had a lot of questions this last few weeks about the assessments we have been featuring in our Web Store, and in this blog. Questions like:

  • “Is an assessment a test of mastery?”
  • “What can I tell from an assessment?”
  • “How would I use an assessment in my coaching practice?”
  • “Is an assessment the same as a profile?”

Here are some quick facts about assessments in the training and coaching world.

Assessments – Instruments – Profiles

When we see the word “assessment” we think of the kind of test we took in school to determine mastery of certain content. While these kinds of “tests” are certainly available commercially, most often in the training and HR space, you will see the terms “assessments, instruments and profiles” used interchangably to refer to a collection of tools that are designed to help an individuals gain insight into either competence or style on a particular dimension or skill area.

When used in a training or coaching practice, a Competency-Based Instrument(assessment or profile) focuses on a specific dimension such as Coaching Effectiveness and enables you to break the dimension down to the behavioral level. Respondents answer a series of questions and based on those responses, the instrument guides that individual to examine individual behaviors that can be mastered to boost that competency and increase effectiveness.
A Style-based Instrument (assessment or profile) breaks down a topic area into a four-quadrant grid so that an individual can better understand his or her own, dominant style in an area like Emotional Intelligence. Often, trainers or OD specialists use style assessments in advance of a workshop or other learning event to determine participants’ dominant style and least-used style and then plan the learning around “style-flexing.”

A third major category of assessment is of course, the Personality Type Instrument which are psychologically-based, like the Psychological Type Indicator (or PTI), which is a traditional Jungian 16-type assessment. Lots of coaching practices, leadership academies, etc. utilize these kinds of instruments in their practices. There is an entire community of professionals dedicated to the use of these Jungian instruments.

Using Instruments

Most often, we find instruments used prior to, or in conjunction with a training initiative or workshop, or a coaching engagement. There are some instruments which assess multiple dimensions, such as a Leadership Effectiveness Profile, or Management Effectiveness Profile, which can give an individual feedback on a range of dimension such as communication, setting goals, etc., as well as more focused assessments on topics such as Listening Skills. Matching the assessments with the goals of your client is an important part of the skills you bring as a coach or trainer.

As you look for the right assessments, keep in mind that many assessments can be taken online, and will then give the participant an individualized report of results with suggestions for next steps in their development. Many of our clients love this option, as they can have their participants take the assessment online prior to the training event or coaching meeting, then bring their results with them. These results can boost participant engagement and retention as participants focus on gaining insight into their specific style or compentency issues.

Improving your Skills in Using Instruments

Finally, training professionals and coaches need to be continuous learners as well!! Most instruments have Facilitator Guides available, which we recommend for anyone planning to use an assessment for the first time. You can also find useful webinars and intepretive material on most of the dimensions covered. In our ReadytoManage webstore, we have facilitator guides and detailed coaching guides for almost all of our assessments. Click here to see a sample of a few pages from our facilitator guide on the Management Effectiveness Profile Facilitators Guide.

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About Anne Sandberg

With a degree in Experimental Psychology and a masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Anne Sandberg has 25+ years of experience in the human resources, training and management consulting arenas. Anne is President of ReadyToManage, Inc. and can be contacted at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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