Psychometric Assessments as a useful tool, Part 1 of 2 (Read Part 2)
When used appropriately Psychometric Assessments can act as a neutral party, an impartial source of reference and feedback in an intercultural coaching journey.
Coaches and facilitators can choose from a number of assessment tools in use today. However, in today's global and interculturally complex world, it is important to find a combination of tools that address both the interpersonal and intercultural spheres. Examples of interpersonal tools include the Everything DiSC suite and Myers-Briggs inventories, etc.
Assessments are great at illuminating behavior. Often, illuminating the cultural side of behavior provides insight into the interpersonal side, but not vice-versa. That is why assessing the interpersonal side alone is inadequate in intercultural environments; there are few or no common reference points, underlying motivations are overlooked, and facilitating lasting change is therefore difficult to achieve.
The danger is that interpersonal assessment tools, when used in isolation, are subject to blindspots because they are usually birthed and developed within contexts commonly experienced within a single worldview or paradigm. When applied to persons or groups using other paradigms or combinations of paradigms, the accuracy and effectiveness can be greatly reduced, both in terms of collecting accurate data from the respondent, and in suggesting areas for improvement or growth.
Assessments as a map for the coaching journey
The coaching journey is a process of discovery, as it takes the coachee through the "triple A's": Awareness, Acceptance, Adaptation. You first become aware of yourself and the world around you in a new way, learning to wrestle with that new awareness. Then you embrace the reality, which leads to Acceptance. Once you embrace and accept the new reality, coming to terms with it, you are ready to try to bring change; to adapt, to make practical changes to the way you interact with others and with circumstances.
If both the coach and at least some of the tools are interculturally intelligent, then the learning experience can be fast-tracked. Inter-Cultural Intelligence provides a framework that brings reference points to the coaching journey, no matter the culture of the coach or the coachee. When an intercultural assessment is plotted against this framework, this "map" can be referred back to, so that both coach and coachee share a common frame of reference and objectives.
Assessments as a third voice in the room
The interculturally intelligent coach can propose practical solutions that lead to lasting change, because he is able to tap into the motivations and touchstones in the coachee's personal culture. Examples of intercultural assessment tools include KnowledgeWorkx' 12 Dimensions of Culture and Three Colors of Worldview. The cultural map helps illuminate the relevant characteristics and any underlying factors. The common frame of reference and objectives provided by the map is the "third voice" in the room.
The coach can take cultural dimensions and preferences into account, and apply ICI throughout the coaching journey. For example, about two thirds of the world deal with interpersonal clashes between people based on their relationship with each other. The other third tends to deal with the details of the clash itself. This difference in approach is, in itself, an illustration of how the intercultural sphere informs the interpersonal sphere.
Listening to the third voice in the room
The better the relationship between the coach and coachee, the better the chances that the coaching journey will result in the desired outcome – especially for the two thirds for whom relationship is the natural focus. Thus, having a third voice in the room allows the coach to build a collaborative relationship with the coachee; while any perceived criticism or judgment can be laid at the door of the assessment itself. A piece of paper, in effect, cannot be argued with.
Moreover, understanding and explaining an assessment effectively takes an empathetic and interculturally aware coach, even when using tools on the purely interpersonal side. Whatever sort of report is used at a given moment, an interculturally intelligent coach or facilitator will know how to use that report: how to draw different people into that psychometric report, how to honor them, how to empower them, how to help them make the right choices; how to take their personal culture into account in such a way that they can maximize that coaching opportunity. ICI gives the coach or facilitator another pair of ears with which to listen.
Read Part 2 of this article: How to use the third voice when coaching in an intercultural setting.