Setting the Stage for Development: Tips for Interpretation Being around assessment tools and looking at assessment results every day, I sometimes forget how intimidating these tools can be to the people taking them. Having answered a lot of different questions, the client is presented with a report that outlines his/her results. Since most people do not complete psychometric assessments very often, the results can be difficult to understand and even more difficult to make decisions with. There are a few basic interpretation principles when utilizing psychometric assessments that help calm clients, and set the stage to ensure that the results are understood and used appropriately, especially when using something like the MBTI instrument in developmental settings. 1. Clarify what the MBTI tool does – and does not- tell an individual. For example, the MBTI does not measure intelligence, well-being, skill or emotional adaptability. It is simply intended to indicate an individual’s preferences in four aspects of their personality that often impact every day behaviours. 2. The client is the expert. Your clients’ know themselves best, and should be asked to verify or contradict their assessment results. This is why the self-assessment and verification process are so paramount to setting the stage for those important developmental conversations, while also avoiding defensiveness and biased reactions. 3. Reports offer hypotheses, not revelations. When you return someone’s results, be careful not to state that “this is how you actually are”, but rather “this report reflects how you responded to the items”. 4. There are no ideal results, no good or bad types. Clients often want to know if their results are right or wrong. While certain groups of people, such as managers, often share similarities, each person’s role is rather unique and as such will have unique demands. What might be a strength in one environment, could be a blindspot in another. Therefore, always remember context when coaching your client and ask questions such as “given the nature of your role, how have these preferences worked in your favour? When could they be over utilized? What is the impression you may give others as a by product of your natural leadership style?” 5. There is good news and bad news. Most reports – including MBTI reports – provide information on the client’s strengths and areas for development. Emphasize to clients that a key aspect of personal development is making the most of their strengths, and addressing areas of difficulty in order to round-out their style. 6. Change is the point. The reason for using the MBTI tool is to identify and pursue individual development. Therefore, frame change as something that is positive and possible, and discourage your clients from creating a rolodex of issues that need to be addressed. By targeting a few key specific areas at a time, the client will see the change as manageable. 7. The client makes it happen. Your job is not to provide the answers but to ask the appropriate questions from which insight is born. The client is ultimately responsible for setting and pursuing the development goals. By keeping these key principles in mind when you work with clients, you will quickly set them at ease and enable them to make the most of their assessment results.