Perceptions of evaluation
I’ve just spent a week in Armenia and Georgia (pictured above) for an evaluation project where I interviewed people from a cross section of society. These are both fascinating countries, if you ever get the chance to visit… During my work there, I was wondering – what do people think about evaluators? For this type of in-site evaluation, we show up, ask some questions – and leave – and they may never see us again.
From this experience and others I’ve tried to interpret how people see evaluators – and I believe people see us in multiple ways including:
The auditor: you are here to check and control how things are running. Your findings will mean drastic changes for the organisation. Many people see us in this light.
The fixer: you are here to listen to the problems and come up with solutions. You will be instrumental in changing the organisation.
The messenger: you are simply channelling what you hear back to your commissioning organisation. But this is an effective way to pass a message or an opinion to the organisation via a third party.
The researcher: you are interested in knowing what works and what doesn’t. You are looking at what causes what. This is for the greater science and not for anyone in particular.
The tourist: you are simply visiting on a “meet and greet” tour. People don’t really understanding why you are visiting and talking to them.
The teacher: you are here to tell people how to do things better. You listen and then tell them how they can improve.
We may have a clear idea of what we are trying to do as evaluators (e.g. to assess results of programmes and see how they can be improved), but we also have to be aware that people will see us in many different ways and from varied perspectives – which just makes the work more interesting….