What I Wish I Had Known in My Beginner Evaluator Days
– Listen more, speak less
– Observe more, take less notes
– Compete less and cooperate more – Team work has great potential to produce optimal outcomes
From my experience as an evaluator, I would add the following:
– the process is important as the report: I realised later in the day…the actual act of undertaking an evaluation can have a significant influence on the concerned organisation and its stakeholders – so you should be aware of this and not only focus on the “end product” – usually the final written report.
– evaluation is scary for some: yes, simple as it seems, when the evaluation team arrives it can be misperceived as being the creators or bearers of bad news – job/project/budget cuts – so it helps that evaluators are able to explain well the purpose of their work.
– evaluators need to be guided but not too guided: Organisations employing evaluation teams want an independent evaluation – then again, they often want to mold the evaluation process in their own views – interview these persons, see these documents, etc. I learnt that evaluators sometimes have to be insistent in designing the evaluation to get the best results. I heard a good suggestion recently where an evaluation team insisted that a follow-up process be included in the evaluation planning.
There are certainly more lessons learnt about data collection, budgets, deadlines and reports – but I leave that for next time…!