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How to Choose an Assessment for Your Client Work

January 01, 2024

  • Kolbe Certification

There are many different assessments, quizzes or tests that promise to provide the necessary information to help your coaching or consulting clients hit their goals.

Even if you’ve already decided that assessments are a valuable tool in your practice, one question remains — which one is the right one to help you clients be successful? 

To pick the right assessment you first have to know which kind of problem you’re looking to solve, and get familiar with the Three Parts of the Mind.

DOWNLOAD: Essential Assessment Checklist

3 Types of Assessments for the Different Parts of the Mind

As a consultant, understanding and using all three mind components can give you a strategic advantage to boost productivity in your clients’ workplaces. The three parts are:

  • Cognitive (thinking)
  • Affective (feeling)
  • Conative (doing)

Let’s go over how assessing each of these mind components can be useful when coaching:

  • Cognitive Assessments
    Cognitive assessments look at knowledge and skills — how smart somebody is and what they know. In other words, these assessments help spot knowledge gaps and training needs on a team. Executive coaches and team leaders may use a cognitive assessment to create training programs and address skill deficiencies.


  • Affective Assessments
    Affective assessments measure the “feeling” part of the mind or personality. This includes your preferences, values and motivations. These social style assessments are great when it comes to evaluating interpersonal dynamics. They’re useful in conflict resolutions, improving communication and just for creating a more positive work environment.
  • Conative Assessments
    A conative assessment measures your instinctive strengths or how you naturally take action and solve problems when you’re striving. So unlike how smart you are (cognitive), or what motivates you (affective), the conative part of the mind predicts how you execute on certain tasks. This type of assessment is extremely useful when it comes to making sure people are aligned in their job and aren’t working against their grain. Consultants use a conative assessment to improve team performance, increase productivity, and hire effectively. The only validated conative assessment is The Kolbe A™ Index.


By incorporating a combination of all three types of assessments, consultants can offer comprehensive solutions to their clients. Addressing knowledge gaps, interpersonal dynamics, and task execution tendencies ensures a holistic approach to team improvement.

However, in specific situations, consultants might opt for one type of assessment over the others, tailoring their approach based on the unique needs of each case.

Why Use a Cognitive Assessment — An IQ or Skills Test?

Cognitive assessments, like the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test, are great tools for consultants aiming to understand their clients’ knowledge or their general ability to reason. And while they might not be the go-to for group settings, they’re great for individual coaching.

On an individual level, a cognitive assessment provides you with an understanding of where your client — or their team — may need some additional training or experience to fill any gaps. The reality is that some of the brightest people don’t always get a lot done and while they may be a team of super-smart people, it doesn’t mean that team will function well.

So, as a consultant, going beyond cognitive assessments is key to helping clients build a team that’s not just smart but actually works well together. By adding cognitive assessments to your toolbox, you’re giving clients the inside scoop on where their team needs a boost – making them not just brainy but also a powerhouse in getting things done.

Why Use an Affective Assessment — A Personality Test?

Most of the popular assessments on the market measure the affective part of the mind. These assessments are useful for understanding what motivates a team member, knowing what their values are, and how they prefer to interact with others (e.g., are they an introvert or extrovert?).

So, if you’re hired to deal with team hiccups — especially if these problems are rooted in clashes of values or differing views on what’s important, or even how team members prefer to engage — affective assessments, such as Gallup’s CliftonStrengths® assessment, or Predictive Index® or even DiSC® and Enneagram are very useful tools for helping pinpoint those differences in values and interpersonal skills.

But it’s important to note that while affective assessments are great for shedding light on values and interpersonal dynamics, they sometimes fall short in the reliability department. People’s likes, dislikes, preferences, and even motivations change over time.

Personality also doesn’t predict results in terms of problem-solving or decision-making. Affective assessments are great for traditional team building — where you’re looking to build camaraderie and interpersonal ease on a team, but they’re not great for actually building a team because they don’t tell you who should be doing which tasks.  That’s what leads great consultants to measure the third part of the mind — conation.

Why Use a Conative Assessment — The Kolbe A Index?

The conative assessment will tell you specifically how a person takes action, regardless of their personality or cognitive abilities. And this is, perhaps the most practical.

The Kolbe A™ Index is used to gain an understanding of how each individual in the team makes decisions, solves problems, and works together with others. This conative assessment is much more reliable than other assessments and you can count on the results for a lifetime.

For example, you’re working with a client who has a team member who ticks all the boxes – they’re highly intelligent and seamlessly integrate into the company culture with stellar interpersonal skills. However, despite these strengths, they consistently fall short of meeting the job expectations set by your client. That could be a conative mismatch. 

Unlike affective assessments, uncovering the conative part of the mind arms consultants with an understanding of how a client and their team will execute in specific domains (such as dealing with details, organization, uncertainty, and tangible solutions), so it can be used for improving team productivity, team communication, job alignment, and even hiring new team members.

Bottom Line — Assessments Help Consultants Build Their Toolbox

Understanding how clients operate across the cognitive, affective, and conative realms can significantly amplify consulting effectiveness.

It’s not just about understanding how each client operates; it’s about equipping yourself with the insights needed to drive tangible improvements in team dynamics, productivity, and overall client satisfaction.

If you’re curious about learning more about the Kolbe assessment and the benefits of its personalized approach, check out our certification program.

So, Can You Help Me Select an Assessment?


We’ve created this simple checklist describing the three parts of the mind, the most common assessments measuring each part, and the most common questions or people-related problems solved by each type of assessment.

DOWNLOAD: Essential Assessment Checklist

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