Communication is the Key:
Getting What You Want & Need from an Evaluation
Question: How do you get what you want and what you need from an Evaluation?
Answer: You ask for it!
Getting what you want and getting what you need is essential in the field of program evaluation. Communication is the first step in meeting your needs and the goals for a program evaluation.
Whether you are doing an internal evaluation or whether you are being externally evaluated, communication is a two-way street.
Communicate Expectations of the Evaluation
The various stakeholders in program evaluation (funders, program directors, staff, program participants) are likely to differ in their expectations for the evaluation. Communicate to each other your expectations of the evaluation.
Define & Clarify Needs & Goals
For internal or external evaluators to help programs, they must understand what program implementers want. They might want any or all of the following: assessing a program's progress, effectiveness, weaknesses, offering recommendations, or facilitating program implementation.
If your program is being evaluated, it is just as important for you to understand the evaluator wants to achieve. An evaluator might want any or all of the following: to act an advocate of the program, or to be instrumental in making change, or to stay within time and budget constraints.
***HINT to Evaluators and their Clients: ASK QUESTIONS
What do you want? What are the goals of the program? What is working in the program and what is not working? Can you give an example?
If you don't ask the questions, you won't get the answers
Difficulties in Communication
Trying to clearly express your feelings, opinions, wants, ideas, and goals is often a challenge for many. So often the questions ( Did I make myself clear? Are you following m? Do you see my logic?) surface when two parties are trying to express their wants and goals and the ways they will go about achieving them.
***HINT: Use VISUAL AIDS***
Evaluators and their clients should take advantage of working with charts, models, diagrams, and pictures. Often seeing leads to understanding. Visual Aids can assist both parties in understanding the organization, it's wants and needs, in order to set goals and develop a plan to reach those goals.
by Christine Gruse