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Online Assessments in Leadership Coaching

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Values Assessments

A class of assessments that are really useful and less commonly used in coaching are assessments of individual values that are relevant in organizational life. Values can be thought of as motivators or drivers and tell us where people are likely to focus their energy. Values also inform the types of activities or projects people are likely to be passionate about, as well as the kinds of interactions or situations that are likely to trigger an emotional reaction. As an example, let’s take Dave, who was recently promoted into a Director role in a manufacturing company. One of Dave’s highest ranked values was Independence. He really appreciated the fairly hands-off approach of his previous leader. As he was integrating into his new role, he found himself frustrated by his new leader’s expectations about the extent to which Dave needed to keep his boss informed about his work. This is an example where having information about individual values helped Dave understand his reaction to his leader’s expectations and made it easier to negotiate an agreement.

In our work, we’ve noticed that conflict in important work relationships can often be better understood by exploring individual values in addition to understanding differences in personality traits.  For an example of a psychometrically sound and organizationally friendly self-report values assessment, see the WorkPlace Values Profile. This values assessment measures 16 values distributed across two dimensions: self to other and mental to physical. The report provides a rank ordering of the 16 values, comparison to a norm group, interpretive text for each value, reflective questions to help process the data, as well as a graphic depiction of one’s values arrayed across four quadrants that are created by combining the two dimensions of self-other and mental-physical.

Online 360 Assessments

An important element of assessment that drives self-awareness includes key stakeholder perceptions of the coachee. Self-report data on personality traits and values helps us understand what autopilot (automatic or habitual behaviors) looks like for a leader. Combining 360 data provides a picture about how the leader impacts others. When combining these data, we get a sense of the extent to which a leader has developed the self-awareness and agility to know when it’s okay to be on autopilot and when to disengage autopilot and show up in ways that are less natural and more effective for a given situation. This crosswalk between self-report data and 360 data provides rich information that can help inform development goals.

In 360 assessment, stakeholders typically include the coachee’s leader, peers, direct reports and often a group of “others.” Semi-structured stakeholder interviews are a useful way to gather information and provide opportunities to get at nuances in a way that is not feasible with an online 360 assessment instrument. Compared to online 360 assessments, interviews are more expensive and typically don’t allow for as many stakeholders to provide input.

There are a growing number of online 360 providers. If one is looking for an online 360 that provides scoring benchmarked against leaders at a comparable level in comparable sized organizations, the Benchmarks™ 360 suite or VOICES™ are both solid choices. If looking for a flexible platform with easy customization and the ability to add custom competencies and items, the WorkPlace Performance 360 is a good choice.

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