Best Practices for Profiles and Assessments

Whenever using assessments or profiles, a facilitator with specific training in the constructs and research behind the instrument and experience in interpretation of the results should always guide the discovery process.

Coaching and individual development planning are essential to transform insights gained from profiles and assessments into the adoption of new approaches and performance results.


Assessments are essentially a way of gathering data and feedback to evaluate the effectiveness and skill level of individuals or teams. They come in many formats.

  • Observation by an expert evaluator using standardized criteria, evaluating demonstration of knowledge, skills and abilities – may be “real time” or simulations
  • Interviews and focus groups
  • Knowledge tests
  • Self-reporting on competency and frequency of behaviors
  • Multi-rater reporting on perceived competency and frequency of desired behaviors, ideally giving a 360-degree picture (i.e. direct reports, managers, peers, customers, etc.)
  • Team members evaluate team effectiveness
  • Organizational evaluations such as organizational health, culture, employee engagement that provide insight to perceptions of effectiveness and often result in feedback specific to individual managers

When to Use

  • Motivate personal and organizational change – honest feedback and a realistic picture of how others see things often provides the “burning platform” that can spur real change in people and organizations.
  • Prioritize individual development goals and strategies to improve – gives people focus and direction
  • Baseline for individual performance improvement tracking
  • Team development planning and activities
  • Organizational development goals and activities

How to Use

To get honest feedback, ensure anonymity of assessors. 

  • Use third-party or other secure means to collect and assemble responses.
  • Do not give feedback from any group of less than 3 individuals (except for managers)

Always, always, always have the recipient of the feedback close the loop with those who offered the feedback. Provide coaching for approaching the meeting in a non-defensive manner. Ideally, leaders will....

  • Express gratitude and appreciation for the feedback
  • Share what they learned, in a humble and non-defensive manner
  • Share intended action plans and goals related to the feedback
  • Ask for additional ideas and any clarification to help make improvements
  • Invite others to hold you accountable to your intentions.

Be transparent and PURE about the purpose of an assessment. If you tell participants and/or respondents that the process is for the development of the person being assessed, then DON'T later use the results for formal evaluation purposes, or for any purpose that has job consequences.


Profiles give people awareness of the differences in people’s natural tendencies and behaviors. They are not meant to indicate ability. In fact, you can always become more skilled in the areas that are “natural strengths” and you can always learn skills and behaviors that aren’t a part of your natural make-up.

The best use of profiles is to understand how to best relate to and work with people whose styles and preferences are DIFFERENT than yours. A program designed around one or more profiles should result in an action plan emphasizing adapting communications to fit with the needs of others, and CAPITILIZE on complementary skills and strengths.


Profiles are sometimes used to determine fit for a team or culture. While profiles may add to your understanding of a candidate’s “fit,” they DO NOT represent a candidate’s capabilities.  In addition, a team that doesn’t have a full spectrum of behavioral styles and preferences represented will likely suffer from a lack of valuable types of input and contributions. If “fit” means “just like us,” it is a recipe for lack of engagement and creativity. An ideal team has all behavioral preferences represented and values the different approaches to tasks and challenges.

Care should always be taken to avoid labeling and “pigeon-holing” (apologies to our feathered friends) people based on the results of a profile or evaluating someone’s performance and contributions based solely on the PERCEPTIONS expressed in a multi-rater assessment.

IMPORTANT: Keep assessments and profiles confidential, and for developmental purposes only. Don’t mistake them for performance management tools.