There are several GOALS for having and using an “Evaluation Team”:
- The task becomes much more manageable, especially after the first time through it. “Many hands make light the work.”
- Many more people become familiar with “higher level” aspects of the program, and that can increase their understanding of what is needed as they do their part of the program. For example, involving the mentor program trainer in evaluation will help motivate them to improve training, and give them specific understanding of the ways in which to do it. But also, the trainer will better understand how training (their part) fits into the “chain of causes and effects” you are assessing and trying to improve. That means they will be better able to lead the training to build on participants’ prior experiences in the program, and to prepare participants for what comes after the training. Good stuff!!
- The previous goal can also include decision makers and other leaders who are not well informed about the program, but whose support you really need. In other words, their participation will educate them and better engage them too.
- A further goal is to ensure that, years later, you have people who have learned how to do the evaluation process and who are STILL AROUND, at least enough of them are still there to help newbies to the process learn how to do it, AND to help with the “program memory” needed to interpret data patterns and why they may have changed. If only a couple of people do the proces, this goal may not happen, AND THE PROCESS WILL NOT GET EASIER WHEN THEY LEAVE OR QUIT THE TEAM.
- Finally, a team always provides a rich reservoir of experiences and perspectives. The team’s diversity is it’s strength:
- Different viewpoints ensure that a wider range of factors are considered.
- Diversity ensures that the relational and task aspects of teamwork get equal attention, and that makes for a healthier and more effective team.
- Diversity reduces mistakes, especially if the team honors the strengths of individual members and their viewpoints.
- Diversity tends to be more representative of the end users of your work, and THAT increases buy-in and support for the final product and it’s recommendations.
A. Forming the team does not have to be difficult. There are lots of ideas and parallel hints found in the web page on this site for forming a Program Planning and Governance Group.
B. It’s always nice to have a techie expert or two on the evaluation team. Managing and manipulating data is a key part of the process.
C. Certainly, it helps to have people who really care about the program and who will persist through the learning needed, especially the first year of the process.
D. Considering the nature of the evaluation process, having members who are good at conceptual thinking, analysis, and verbal – mathematical skills is quite useful.
E. Other team members might include a manager at 1-2 different levels, lower level employees or clients, a mentor leader or three, like the trainer for proteges, trainer for mentors, Program Director, and certainly, a mentor and a protege.
F. Finally, ask your self if there is a stand out mentor, mentor trainer, or other program participant or two who might one day be considered to assume the Director’s role should that person leave. Involving them in program evaluation will really help them grow and to better understand key things such a role change would require of them.
Basically, for the evaluation process, we recommend that “on-the-job-training” to be the primary method of training the team. The process is too complex to deliver in any depth and expect a participant to retain it without some experience.
There may be some vocabulary you’ll want the team to know, some of the schedule and nature of the process they’d want to know, and other things. A training is probably not needed to provide that. We suggest sending them such items in advance, asking them to read it and mark questions, and then holding an informal discussion may be the best route.
Certainly, provide them with an outline of the “Best Practice Program Evaluation Model”, or just print out the Program Evaluation Index you have been using in this web section. Perhaps arrange for a digital projector and show them this section of the web site and the resources it contains. ALL we ask is that you remember, this is a benefit of IMA membership and is intended ONLY for members. That YOU are a member means you can access and use this as much as needed, so showing them this web section might mean several things, which you ought to clarify for them:
- IF you have an “Institutional membership” two persons gain membership benefits, so two persons can use this web site section. That may be all you need to get the guidance we intend and that you want.
- IF you are the only IMA member, you might consider, at least for this next year, switching to an Institutional Membership so another person can access the guidance for the process.
- We will also allow you to print out and copy the needed information IF:
- You keep the header and citation info on the print out.
- IF you inform them about the source and need to not share the info beyond the team.
- IF you provide the IMA info for free and only to your team.
- IF the IMA info does not ever get sold by you, or used as a part of services you provide OUTSIDE of your organization and for which you are paid. In that case, just have that client or other program buy and IMA membership themselves and then, they get the access too.