AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

TAG | group dynamics

Happy Saturday, folks!  I’m Liz Zadnik, aea365’s Outreach Coordinator.  I live in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country and was snowed in a few weeks ago.  The storm wasn’t as bad as it could have been (for us…thankfully), but I had a chance to spend some time catching up on my reading resolution.  

Rad Resource: First off, I need to again express my appreciation for AEA’s member access to journals and publications from the field. I love New Directions for Evaluation and was excited to see “Planning and Facilitating Working Sessions with Evaluation Stakeholders.”  Part of my “day job” is engaging stakeholders in conversations about nuanced topics and complex issues.  The inclusion of a case example helped me operationalize concepts and give me some great ideas for my own practice.

View of desk with three plants lined up from left to right with a whiteboard in the background

Lessons Learned: A big factor in successful group project is navigating potential issues or influences within the group of stakeholders.  This includes both investigating the attitudes and dynamics of group members, as well as your own biases as the facilitator.  The article encourages evaluators to learn about possible political, historical, and/or social contexts that may prevent or hinder group cohesiveness and trust.  Is it (in)appropriate to bring everyone together initially?  Or do distinct groups need to be engaged before a collective can be established?  

There’s also a great table with skills and questions for facilitators, each topic has examples and items to explore.  What caught my eye – most likely because it’s something that has tripped me up personally in the past – was a set of questions about previous group facilitation experience.  It’s challenging not to bring past experiences with you to the present, but a lack of patience or quickness to make assumptions about dynamics and process can really impede creativity, innovation, and thoughtful problem-solving.  

I also loved how the author outlines thoughtful considerations and steps for facilitating and operationalized those considerations with a case example.  Particularly during the description of the debrief – I am a huge fan of self-reflection and really appreciated its inclusion within the facilitation process.  

I would definitely recommend the article to anyone who wants to up their facilitation game and is looking for guidance on how best to engage project stakeholders!   

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

·

Our names are Eun Kyeng Baek and SeriaShia Chatters and we are an evaluation team and doctoral students at the University of South Florida. The dynamics of a metaevaluation team can determine the overall success of a metaevaluation. Program Evaluation’s Metaevaluation Checklists help guide a metaevaluation, however the dynamics of the team must be considered when leading a metaevaluation. Here we will share a few helpful hints to help improve the dynamics of a metaevaluation team and ensure a smooth, successful metaevaluation.

Lesson learned

Communication: During metaevaluation meetings, observe and listen more than you talk

It is important to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind your team members’ communication styles. Although you may be familiar with each member’s communication style outside of the team, understand that the dynamics of the team can alter individual’s communication styles and undermine the success of the metaevaluation. Since nonverbal communication dominates 75% of a person’s message, observing your team members during a meeting can provide cues to possible problems within the inner workings of your team. Encourage candid, open communication balanced with professionalism and respect for each team member.

Diversity: Embrace the diverse backgrounds of your team and utilize areas of expertise

Each team member will bring their culture, expertise, and knowledge to the table. Embrace these differences and use them to strengthen the team and the outcome of the metaevaluation. Empathetic listening is an important technique to use. Empathetic listening involves listening to understand your team member’s worldviews and allowing yourself to see the metaevaluation from their point of view.

Leadership: Recognize team member strengths and limitations

Team leaders should recognize team member strengths and limitations, and ensure each team member is assigned a task(s) that utilizes their strengths. Understanding team member roles is beneficial information to be added to the toolbox of any metaevaluation team leader. Some of the advantages of understanding team member roles include increased team effectiveness; increased team cohesion; a better understanding of the underlying dynamics associated with working in a team; and the possibility of profit increases due to better productivity.

Conflict: Employ effective, ethical methods to diffuse conflict

Team leaders should employ effective and ethical methods to diffuse conflict when they recognize difficult team members. Some useful conflict resolution techniques to have in your tool box are the art of persuasion, smoothing, and conciliation. Persuasion includes providing the other side with factual evidence on a position’s correctness and pointing out how the proposition will benefit the other side. Smoothing and conciliation involve emphasizing the similarities of two parties, pointing out common philosophies, and avoiding negative interaction. The key here is to reduce tension and increase trust between two parties.

Here’s to a smooth, successful metaevaluation!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

· · · ·

Archives

To top