The Role of Needs Assessments

Hi, Everyone!

Here’s an article I wrote a few years ago about personality tests and psychometric assessments.  I thought you all might find some of the points useful as you talk to your clients about where the ChangeGrid fits in.


“The Role of Needs Assessments”

When it comes to personality profiling, the human development industry has countless tests and assessments from which to choose. These instruments may differ greatly on the surface — in the number and names of the archetypes each model advocates and the method through which a person’s type is determined. But at their core, they are all attempting to accomplish the same objective: divide humanity into a manageable number of types and describe each type as a set of distinct and demonstrable characteristics. These “psychometric” instruments are designed to “measure the minds” of respondents and provide them with greater insight and understanding of themselves. Because of that, they have increasingly become a core service offered by professional trainers, coaches and consultants.

The ways in which the professional community has positioned personality profiling in their practices varies widely:

1) As an intake tool, personality tests provide the professional with a relatively inexpensive way to engage a prospect in a meaningful dialogue that may lead to them becoming a client.

2) As the foundation for a working relationship with a client, assessments provide starting points from which clients can make better decisions about themselves and their futures – in matters of career counseling, personal relationships and life in general.

3) As part of a team building experience, personality tests provide the members of a group with a shared language and insight into themselves and their fellow teammates.

4) As subject matter for a training program or keynote presentation, a general overview of a typing system can be instrumental in helping customer service representatives or sale representatives identify, understand and respond to different customer types more effectively.

5) As a tool for job matching, personality assessments help identify candidates best suited for a particular job – and help job seekers assess and recognize the sort of career they would find most rewarding.

6) As a neutralizer in conflict resolution, assessments allow the parties involved to understand the way each other views the world in general, better appreciate that viewpoint and find common ground on which to build a more cooperative future.

7) As a strategy for improving relationships with others, understanding personality enables you to determine someone’s type, their personal preferences and what you need to do to meet and exceed their needs.

Regardless of how you incorporate psychometric instruments into your practice, the fact is that once your clients have completed the assessment and you have explained to them what it reveals about them, the assessment’s ongoing usefulness is limited.


The REAL question we have to help our clients answer isn’t “What are you?” but “What are you going to DO about it?”

To answer that question, a different tool comes into play.

A “needs assessment” is the next natural step in the human development process. Unfortunately, unlike personality tests, there are very, very few formal needs assessments available. In fact, the majority of human development professionals have developed their own approach for helping their clients identify the list of changes each needs to make. Generally, their approach is purely conversational – through discussion, a set of objectives is identified and agreed upon … and the work begins. But a conversational needs assessment approach lacks several valuable aspects that can dramatically impact the client’s willingness to BEGIN the work … to CONTINUE the work … and to VALUE the services of you as their human development professional.

Take a few moments now to evaluate your current approach to needs assessment against the following seven criteria. A good needs analysis system:

1) Allows you to build a comprehensive list of specific desirable changes, determined by and unique to your client.

2) Measures how prepared your client is to make those changes based on their level of knowledge, skill, experience and available resources.

3) Measures what your client’s sense of urgency is regarding each of the proposed changes, based on the level of challenge or difficulty they anticipate the change will be for them to make.

4) Enables your client to actually SEE what their current situation is in concrete, graphical, inescapable terms.

5) Pinpoints and visually presents both the current status and the goal of each change, giving you and your client a map to agree upon and follow as you help take them from their current situation to their desired situation.

6) Provides continuous, visual feedback as a way to plan a course of action, track progress, and refine your strategy.

7) Confirms, on an ongoing basis, that the guidance you are providing is grounded, effective and valuable to your client in excess of what you have charged.

Keep in mind that the real point of a needs assessment is that it speaks to the client in a way that conversation alone never can. It literally captures and confronts a client with the truth of their situation. If they can SEE it, they are more likely to OWN it – and if the OWN it, they are much more likely to DO something about it.

And that means more business for you.


So how well does the ChangeGrid meet those criteria?



3 Responses to The Role of Needs Assessments

  1. Thornton Prayer says:

    Hi T.,

    The ChangeGrid is THE instrument for a needs assessment. Every HD professional I’ve done a reading for loves it, and my own clients see its value as well.

  2. T, I use psychometric assessments all the time, but think the ChangeGrid goes from “who are you” to “what are you doing about it” and really does make it more practical.

    Interestingly, that just in the exercise of focusing on what they are doing and feeling, things begin to shift. I can’t help but think of Quantum Physics where the observation changes the result.

    Great article.


  3. G Sairamesh says:

    T, Psychological assessments deal with the ‘Why’s of your behavior’, ‘What’s of your personality’, ‘How’s of your behavior’, ‘What’s of your strength’s’, etc.

    To me the ChangeGrid is more in the present than in the past or future, from my learnings from your sessions and the consequent reflections ‘I believe the ChangeGrid helps an individual ascertain his current status in the present’, using a ChangeGrid for Needs Assessment is another application of the tool.

    It is great to keep discovering newer uses of the tool and I am sure we will come with a whole list of uses soon. Examples – Managerial Tasks, Leadership Practices, Delegation Styles, etc

    BTW, when you developed the tool, was this what you had in mind?

    Rgds – Sai

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