Three Myths of Coaching Assessments
By Roberta Hill

Many coaches are being told that they need to use assessments in order to:

a) differentiate themselves from the competition
b) be effective as a coach

This is simply not true. There are many ways to be a masterful and successful coach without using assessments. That said, assessments can be a wonderful tool to leverage the impact of the coaching and can also help you delineate your niche in the market place. The key is to ensure that assessments have a proper place in your coaching business and in the coaching partnership.

If you do use or plan to use assessments, here are three false assumptions, or myths, to consider in order to put assessments in their proper place in coaching:

1. Assessments are an excellent way to get to "know" your client
2. Assessments are a good source of secondary income
3. Having an arsenal of assessments is the best strategy

Myth One: Assessments are an excellent way to get to "know" your client.

Assessments can provide some valuable reference points in helping you adjust your own coaching approach, but masterful coaches do this from their own experience and intuition. The ultimate purpose of using an assessment is to provide a framework and some information for your client -- not you. Even the most reliable behavioral instruments will have an inaccuracy of 15% or more. This can lead to a coach drawing some erroneous conclusions if he or she is not careful. To avoid this bias, I go against "conventional wisdom" and encourage coaches not to use an assessment as part of the welcome package or within the first month of coaching. Ask yourself: "What is the real purpose for using this particular assessment with this client at this time?"

Myth Two: Assessments are a good source of secondary income.

You cannot make significant money by marking up the cost of an assessment and passing it on to your clients. The days of large profit margins are gone -- thanks in part to online access and increased competition. There may be some providers out there who suggest money can be made, but unless you are "selling" a lot of instruments, this is not the case. You will spend some time in administration, so it is fair that there is a differential between your unit costs and retail prices. However, this markup will represent a small amount due to the plummeting retail prices of assessments. Ask yourself: "Are you in the business of providing the best coaching to your clients or are you in the business of selling products?"

Myth Three: Having an arsenal of assessments is the best strategy.

To add value to an instrument beyond what the client gets from the report requires you to have a depth of knowledge and experience with the tool. This only comes from extensive training and regular practice. People often comment on how adept I am at "reading" the results from various MBTI and Social Style assessments. This is because over the past twenty years, I have conducted these instruments and models individually and in groups with literally thousands of individuals. Personally, I feel less of an expert with DISC-related instruments, even though I have used them hundreds of times. If you are using or want to use an assessment, find one that resonates with you and best fits the kind of work you do with clients. In some instances, you may identify two specific tools that are complementary to each other. Then use them in-depth; and this means practice! All psychometrically sound assessment tools are good, if the user is well-trained, has lots of experience with the tool, and uses it properly and appropriately. If you aren't going to use a specific instrument at least once a month or a dozen times a year, don't bother. You won't be doing yourself or your clients any favors. Ask yourself: "Will I be facilitating a value-added process with the client or making things more complicated?"

Being aware of these myths, and checking your assumptions about them, can help you understand if and how assessments can have a place in your coaching.

Roberta Hill, MBA, is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), as well as a Professional Mentor Coach (PMC) and Certified Teleclass Leader with Corporate Coach U International. Roberta owns, an online assessment provider with a network of more than 40 qualified coaches worldwide. Read more about Roberta in the WABC Coach Directory. She may be reached by email at

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