A perspective on coaching readiness assessments

Brenda Kwan, October 1, 2019
The text “What makes a person coachable” surrounded by question marks.

A perspective on coaching readiness assessments

Coaching readiness assessments are questionnaires used to gauge an individual’s desire, commitment and openness to making changes in their life. The assessments are generally self-administered, short, and easy to answer. A score is tallied, and the individual’s coaching readiness is categorized as: not ready yet; coachable; or very coachable.

Some coaches ask a prospective client to complete a coaching readiness assessment before they start working with the client. There isn’t just one assessment out there. Different coaches use different assessments.

Scientific evidence on coaching readiness

With all the different coaching readiness assessments out there, I wondered how valid they are in really gauging an individual’s coaching readiness. So, I turned to the scientific literature.

There appears to be little scientific investigation on the factors that contribute to coaching readiness. While research is in its early stages, the emerging evidence (Franklin, 2005; Kretzschmar, 2010; and Mackie, 2015) suggests some common factors across studies, including:

  • A sense of necessity to change (commitment to change)
  • Belief that change is possible
  • Acceptance of responsibility for change
  • Openness, e.g., flexible and adaptable thinking, ability to reflect on and make sense of thoughts and feelings, prepared to experience some discomfort in the process of change

I did a quick review of six different coaching readiness assessments (found on coaches’ websites) to see whether they included any of the factors listed above. What I saw in the assessments did seem to have some overlap with these factors, although none of the six assessments I looked at were explicitly linked to any scientific evidence.

A perspective on coaching readiness assessments

Take coaching readiness assessments with a grain of salt

Given the limited scientific literature on coaching readiness in general, it is reasonable to conclude that most of the coaching readiness assessments out there have not been scientifically generated or validated. Indeed, how such assessments were developed is largely not detailed. Therefore, you should take coaching readiness assessments with a grain of salt. Take them as a guide that represents a single point in time, and not as something accurate, permanent, and predictive.

Why I think the factors in the emerging scientific literature make sense

Based on my experience as a coach and as someone who’s been coached, and on my own self-guided personal development work, here’s why I think the emerging factors listed above make sense:

  • A sense of necessity to change (commitment to change). If you don’t think a change is needed, you’re fine with everything as is. You want to keep the status quo, which means no change. Even if you want things to change in your life, if you’re not committed to it, you probably won’t do anything about it.
  • Belief that change is possible. If you don’t believe that things in your life can change, you won’t bother trying to do anything about it.
  • Acceptance of responsibility for change. If you think that your life will only improve when changes are made externally (e.g., by other people, through changes in the “system”, etc.), you’re not going to be motivated to make changes because that responsibility belongs to others, not you.
  • Openness, e.g., flexible and adaptable thinking, ability to reflect on and make sense of thoughts and feelings, prepared to experience some discomfort in the process of change. Change happens when something different happens. If you’re not open to something different, things will stay the same. It will be “same old, same old.”

Coaching readiness applies to self-coaching too

Coaching readiness is generally situated in the context of working with a coach. However, I think the factors listed above also translate to self-coaching, because coaching readiness is not about the coach. It’s about the person who wants change. And people can make changes on their own without a coach (although coaches can certainly help!).

Final words

While being ready for coaching increases the likelihood that change will happen, another important factor is actual action. Sure, you’re ready for change, but you still have to do something to make it happen.

Summary

Some coaches use assessments to gauge how ready a client is for coaching. However, scientific research on what factors contribute to coaching readiness is still in the early stages. Therefore, coaching readiness assessments should be taken with a grain of salt, and only as a guide that represents a single point in time. While coaching readiness is usually talked about in the context of working with a coach, it may also apply to self-coaching. Finally, another important contribution to change is actual action. You still have to do something to make change happen.

Question

How ready for coaching are you – not ready yet, coachable, or very coachable? How did you arrive at your answer?

References

Franklin J (2005). Change readiness in coaching: Potentiating client change. In Michael Cavanagh, Anthony M. Grant, and Travis Kemp (Ed.), Evidence-based Coaching: Volume 1 (pp.193-200). Bowne Hills, Australia: Australian Academic Press.

Kretzschmar I (2010). Exploring client’s readiness for coaching. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, Special Issue 4. doi: 10.24384/IJEBCM/S4

Mackie D (2015). The effects of coachee readiness and core self-evaluations on leadership coaching outcomes: A controlled trial. Coaching: An International Journal on Theory, Research and Practice. doi: 10.1080/17521882.2015.1019532

2 thoughts on “A perspective on coaching readiness assessments”

  1. Is this an opportunity to develop a scientifically validated coaching readiness assessment? 🙂 I think I’m coachable, but have too much inertia to enact change. At this point, I have yet to find something I want badly enough.

    1. I think someone out there will probably develop a scientifically validated coaching readiness assessment! I’ll wait with bated breath…

      When you find something you want badly enough, a disruption to your inertia will naturally follow. 🙂

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