Uses of Psychometric Assessment for Coaches

For a coach, an informed assessment of a prospective coachee is essential for appropriate and measured intervention. Assessment provides a framework for a coaching or change contract and implies many of the outcomes that reflect performance of the contract.

Psychometric tools are constrained by their underlying theories. Because they compare the person against a baseline, they can provide a context for discussion between the coach and coachee about the implications of the difference from the baseline (norm) measured by the instrument. The temptation for the coach, especially if the listener is incentivized through volumes of administrations, is to view every person through the lens of the theory underlying the instrument at hand. A jargon evolves where the coach serves as an interpreter of a theory underlying the assessment instrument and applies the theory to the problem at hand, sometimes at the expense of relevance or utility. This circular process, especially if the person’s more central preferences and interests are not covered by the instrument being used, becomes an impediment to well-formed and reasoned interventions.

Our Human Patterns Inventory presents the coachee many (250) ipsative items resulting in an output of a series of graphic representations of hierarchically ordered lists of preferences and interests. These preferences and interests are grouped to align with multiple theories or “lenses” that might apply to the coachee, provided that the differences from the norm group (over 5000) are significant enough to merit consideration. The large number of labels for preferences and interests generated through the instrument (over 200) can preclude over-interpretation. However, the time the person must invest to complete the inventory and the volume of hierarchically ordered labels reported as standard deviations can be confusing and an overload of information for the coachee. The inventory does, however, offer the advantage of a comprehensive template of preferences and interests for an extended change process.

Much of the literature on psychometrics is directed to the validity of the constructs (theory), replicability of the results over time (test-retest reliability), and explanations of variance within the instrument. The less an instrument measures the higher the validity that can be achieved by the instrument. The Human Patterns Inventory does not match the level of validity of instruments that measure only a few factors, but compensates by the richness and versatility of the templates generated through the Human Patterns Inventory. It is a tool for coaches, not a tool for selection unless an experienced selection professional is advising on placement or congruence with organizational or work group culture. The only exception is when a baseline specific to a job role has been developed using valid sampling and other external measurement criteria.

For a coach, an appreciation of differences in preferences and interests is a necessary foundation before actually engaging in contracts for change. A first step can be to become a Certified Human Patterns Administrator. Reasons for this training are that use of the instrument teaches:
1. An appreciation of human variety
2. An appreciation of statistical or measurable differences and how to interpret these
3. Methods and processes for measured and calibrated dialogue about preferences and interests
4. An appreciation and understanding of small heuristic maps and models and how they can be used to facilitate a discussion of larger issues
5. An exposure to pattern recognition across multiple heuristic maps and models and training in how to translate these patterns into everyday language
6. An exposure to comparisons with a “real person” receiving an interpretation as against a set of statistics on a page so the coach learns the value of clinical observation and of testing assumptions.


A. Laffoley

Academic Program Director Raleigh- Durham, NC

I used the Human Patterns Inventory in the development program for high potential senior leaders and recommend it as an effective tool as part of any comprehensive employee development program. In my opinion an important differentiator of this tool is the light it shines on the switches that may occur in our behavior when we are in reaction mode (e.g. in a stressful situation). Bringing awareness to where this occurs is invaluable to an individual’s personal development.

K. Jobe

Executive Recruiter Charlotte, North Carolina Area

I have used the Human Patterns as an internal recruiter as well as during client “coaching” engagements. It is the most comprehensive psychometric test that I have ever worked with. I highly recommend this tool to any organization that is committed to talent optimization.

F. Christian

Managing Director Chicago, IL

Human Patterns is a rare exception among assessment tools. Most are simplistic and slipshod, more mirrors of their creators' craniums than windows into one's own. Human Patterns has a richness that allows me to start meaningful conversations with the hidden high potentials I work with, who after years of severe underemployment have lost sight of themselves and their unique ways of working with the world. I'm so enthusiastic I now require it for new clients to shortcut to solutions.