Hello everyone, I’m Brad Rose of Brad Rose Consulting, Inc. a Massachusetts-based consulting firm that provides program evaluation, applied social research, and organization development consulting services to national and local non-profits, community-based organizations, educational institutions, philanthropies, corporations, and state and federal agencies. I’d like to share my views about the importance of interpersonal skills to successful program evaluation initiatives.
Lesson Learned: We all know that a good evaluator must have the requisite technical/methodological skills; he or she must be able to develop a research design, carry out research in the field, analyze data, and report findings. These technical/methodological skills, although of critical importance, are not the only skills that evaluators need. Effective program evaluations also depend upon a range of interpersonal and relational skills that make effective and responsive interpersonal interaction possible.
I recently posted to the American Evaluation Association’s listserv a query about the importance and role of interpersonal skills in evaluation. I asked for AEA members’ opinions about the importance of interpersonal skills in conducting successful evaluations. The central theme of the many responses I received was that successful evaluators employ key interpersonal skills, and that without these, evaluation engagements are unlikely to be successful.
Among the most prominent reasons that my AEA colleagues said interpersonal skills were important were:
1) the importance of building strong, candid, and constructive relationships, on which effective data collection depends
2) the importance of establishing trusting and collaborative relationships between evaluators and stakeholders in order to help to ensure that evaluation findings will be utilized by clients and stakeholders
3) Additionally, some colleagues commented that strong interpersonal skills in evaluation enhance the probability that clients and stakeholders will share information and provide valuable insights about the program.
As my colleagues confirmed, effective evaluation necessarily entails trusting, open, and amicable relationships that make access to program knowledge, evaluands’ experience, and critical program information possible. Interpersonal skills are a prerequisite for effective program evaluation.
- Build rapport and trust with clients, evaluands, and stakeholders
- Act with personal integrity
- Display a genuine curiosity and ask good questions
- Make yourself vulnerable in order to learn
- Be empathic
- Be both socially aware and self-aware— i.e., be aware of, and manage, both your own and other’s emotions (including the features of emotional intelligence, i.e, capacities to accurately perceive emotions, use emotions to facilitate thinking, to understand emotional meanings, and to manage emotions).
- Treat each person with respect
- Manage conflict and galvanize collaboration
- Facilitate collective (group) learning
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