Seven things an evaluator should avoid saying…

November 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm Leave a comment

   Having worked for some years as an evaluator, been in many different teams and seen other evaluators in action, I’ve had the benefit of seeing how people do evaluation in so many different ways. And I’ve also had the occasion to see evaluators do things – well – in not such a correct way – shall we say, acting a little pompous, like the illustration above. So I’ve put together the following list of seven thing an evaluator should avoid saying…of course, I’ve never been guilty of any of these :~}

1. “For me, the Terms of Reference are only a rough guide for us” I once heard an evaluator say this and the client nearly fell off their chair.  Of course, a terms of reference has to be commented on and modified, normally in the inception report, but it’s key to the evaluation,  no one likes “evaluation creep” where the evaluation goes everywhere but fails to answer the questions, oh, that are often in the terms of reference.

2. “I’ve already written the report in my mind” Ah the number of times I’ve heard this gem when coming out of a first meeting with a client… Even before a scrap of evidence has been collected…

3. “Interesting, in my opinion this is what happened…” I’ve been guilty of this, where the evaluator elaborates on their theory of what works and what doesn’t to a poor interviewee. When ever I’ve tried it, the person 9 times out of ten has replied “that’s not how it happened…”.

4. “Don’t worry, I’ve got a long plane trip coming up, I’ll write your report then…” We are all short for time, but a client expects work to be done seriously…even if you are catching up on the report during that flight trip, should you say it out loud?

5.  “So our initial results are…” Not so much the evaluator’s fault but the pressure on evaluators to deliver initial results before the findings are in. We should avoid jumping to conclusions in the early days of an evaluation as often we find that our initial hunches may be wrong…

6.  “This program is so #%$%!  Who is running this thing?” As an evaluator you may come across programmes and projects that are less than ideally run. But it helps if you are a little diplomatic as you may be talking to someone who set up and/or manages what you are evaluating.  There may even been connections to the programme or project that you are not aware of.

7. “The way this evaluation is managed is just rubbish!” And I’ve also heard this – the evaluator criticising openly and widely the evaluation commissioner who has …employed them… In general, I think part of the success of the evaluation will be  down to good collaboration between the evaluators, the commissioner and the programme/project being evaluated.

Know of any more things to avoid saying?  please send them in!

Above fabulous drawing entitled “pompous bastard” by TannerMorrow.


Entry filed under: General.

Video: Seven new ways to present evaluation findings BetterEvaluation – great resources for M&E

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