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Ask a Trainer: Which Assessments Are Most Valuable in Human Performance Improvement?

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Tue Mar 02 2021

Ask a Trainer: Which Assessments Are Most Valuable in Human Performance Improvement?
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In this week’s Ask a Trainer guest post, Amy P. Kelly offers her thoughts on different personality assessment tools and how many to use during a development program.

Dear Amy,

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I’m interested in becoming certified in human performance improvement assessment and am considering several options, including the Gallup CliftonStrengths Assessment, the DiSC assessment, and others.

As I weigh these different certification options, do you have any recommendations or advice? Throughout your career, have there been assessment tools that you have found particularly valuable?


What a great question! I have experience with the specific assessments you mentioned as well as several others, and I’ve also completed the George Mason University Executive Coaching program, so I’ve explored human performance improvement from various perspectives. What I have found is that assessments that are the easiest to understand across the different layers of performers inside organizations are the ones that lead to the most success. I don’t have one assessment that’s the only one I ever use because I believe it’s important to look for the right tool for the specific context you’re working in. I am a huge fan of assessments overall because part of the excitement of growing as a leader is getting the awesome information that comes from that journey of self-discovery and increasing self-awareness.

Different assessments open mental doors for people in different ways. However, too many assessments in one kind of growth endeavor aren’t a good thing, in my experience. There have been times in my career where I was so excited by different assessments that I had four or five or six running in a single development program. While all of them were quality information resources, I found that it’s best to work with three that you believe are going to help align with the goal of the individual in the organization. Sometimes you may only use one, but usually I use no more than three over the course of a year or 18-month development program.

I don’t mean to get stuck on numbers, but the concept I’m trying to share is that the assessments are fantastic. Also fantastic is your judgment as the partner who’s helping an individual grow. As you get more fluent in the different assessments, you can apply the ones that you think will work for the specific context you’re working in.

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Assessments are useful because they inform people’s awareness. With Gallup, it’s awareness of what a person’s strengths are via their model. With other assessments, it can be about the person's communication styles. With others it may be about their view of themselves and a view of other teammates input. Assessment can also inform a view on thinking styles and mindsets. These are all useful in human performance improvement, because leadership development is a journey of self discovery.

Once an assessment has helped inform a person’s view of themselves, that person can also have conversations with their coach and with their other colleagues about where their opportunities may lie. Then they can take action to move toward goals based on those opportunities for growth in alignment with their potential and growth intentions.

There are so many great assessments out there, and there are new ones coming out all the time. It’s fun to review the options and see how our field is evolving over time. I’m always trying to learn more about new things to support the growth of my clients and my own growth as a positive example of talent development work.


Learn more from Amy about human performance improvement on the ATD Accidental Trainer podcast. Her episode will air on March 3.


If you have a question for Ask a Trainer, send it to [email protected]. You can find answers to previous questions by visiting the Ask a Trainer hub.

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We welcome your comments and engagement on these posts. All posts are reviewed to ensure appropriateness based on ATD’s requirements for postings in our online communities.

Please note: Content shared in this column is provided by the author and may not reflect the perspectives of ATD.

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