Creating a Culture for M&E in an Organization by Abdul Majeed

Hi All, I’m Abdul Majeed, an M&E consultant based in Kabul with a track record in establishing M&E department at Free & Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) organization. I share insights about evaluation practice based on my own experience and strive to increase awareness on this (comparatively) new notion.

Creating a culture where M&E is considered a necessary tool for performance improvement, not an option (or imposed by outsiders-especially Donors) is not an easy task. Some employees would resist due to a lack of awareness of value of M&E (or what M&E is all about) and others may resist due to a fear of accountability and transparency ensured by implementation of a robust M&E system or culture. Based on my experience, at first, staff weren’t aware of M&E and its value. After working hard for two years, they now believe in M&E and the positive changes made by following and using M&E information and recommendations. One thing I have observed is that fear arises due to the transparency and accountability culture in the organization. Now it is hard to engage those who fear (sometimes it is quite tough to distinguish them explicitly from those who are resistant), because of the increase in transparency and accountability, but this is a major achievement for the organization and could lead to opening new doors by funders (trust would be built significantly). They may deny or minimize levels of resistance but, in reality, may be creating obstacles.

Lessons Learned:

  • Board of directors and/or Funding agencies’ support is highly needed to help the M&E department in ensuring transparency and accountability in the organization.
  • M&E staff shouldn’t fear losing their jobs or any other kind of pressure to disclose information that reflects the exact level of transparency (or any corruption that takes place). Telling the truth is the responsibility of evaluators.
  • M&E staff should have a good networking and relationships with staff that will help them in achieving their goal and building trust among them.
  • Coordination meetings between M&E and donor agencies would enhance the process and encourage the team to continue their work for increased transparency and accountability.
  • M&E should not be solely focused on what worked or not – the real picture of what this process will eventually lead to should be clear to all staff.
  • Provide incentives to those who adhere to M&E recommendations. I think it will help in promoting a strong M&E culture.
  • M&E should be strict and honest in disclosing the information on accountability and transparency. There shouldn’t be compromise on telling the truth; otherwise all efforts would be useless. The team can work together with senior staff and let them know what how increased transparency and accountability would have on the sustainability of organization.

Author’s Note: Thanks to all who commented on my previous articles especially to Phil Nickel and Jenn Heettner. These are my insights based on my own experience and would highly appreciate readers’ comments.

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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

9 thoughts on “Creating a Culture for M&E in an Organization by Abdul Majeed”

  1. Aisiri Adolor

    Thanks Abdul Majeed for sharing these real life situation regarding M&E.Your last point left me thinking: “M&E should be strict on transparency and accountability and in disclosing the truth…” I believe this is one of the real challenges faced with M&E professionals. The struggle to tell the truth as it is particularly when the data is not showing the organization or project in good light. There has always been a tendency for top management to subtly request some compromise from the M&E staff. We need to show the donors we are doing well in other to attract more funding, so the implementing organization does whatever it takes to showcase achievements. How do we handle this pressure to compromise on actual findings? will like if you share more on this

    1. Abdul Majeed

      Aisisri! Thanks for your message and asking question. It is quite challenging, as I experienced sometimes you will be faced a situation either compromise on truth or if resist on not compromising you might pressurized to resign. Frankly, I personally seek ways on how to have a backup for support if I tell the truth and I think Donors can play a critical role as a support for M&E professionals. Would love to hear from you and other Evaluators on this. Thanks. Abdul.

  2. Terrific post – it is rare to come across an individual that demonstrates such a commitment to evaluation as a quality mechanism whereby its function is improvement! My experience of 30 years evaluation is that the majority of organisations still require evaluation to justify their work rather than internalising lessons and using them to build expertise and plan strategy. Given your location – this is even more admirable! Such integrity is rare and to be hugely admired.

    1. Thanks Jane for your good words and glad to know you found it interesting. It motivated me to intensify my efforts for promoting evaluation in its real sense. it is as fighting alone in the battle but your appreciation and good words significantly increased my courage to keep moving forward till I win. I hope will have your great comments on my future articles as well. Thanks again.

  3. Thank you very much Abdul for this excellent article. I’m interested in your point that “M&E should not be solely focused on what worked or not – the real picture of what this process will eventually lead to should be clear to all staff.” Can you explain what you mean by this and how it has played out at your organization?
    Also, regarding providing incentives to those who adhere to recommendations – what type of incentives have you provided and what was the process of approvals for initiating that?

    1. Thanks Rebecca for your nice words. regarding your first question, according to my experience, still most people think of M&E as solely a reporting tool to reflect what worked and not but in reality it is more than that to pave the way for improvement in management through critical reflection, ensure transparency and accountability. if something didn’t work as planned, M&E should dive to track why didn’t and what lessons learned gained to use it in the future. in 2014 when I first established the M&E department the staff weren’t ready to answer me the why questions as they perceived M&E guy is only allowed to report not to ask the “Why questions”. I conducted several sessions and tried to make them understand what truly M&E means and what their real role is. developed some performance indicators and eventually, they not only start believe in good role of M&E but also were happy with improved efficiency in the work being done. but this all is not an overnight work, sincerity, commitment, determination and hard work pays off. Thanks

    2. Abdul Majeed

      Rebecca, regarding incentives, to be frank it is still to be approved but it is quite easy if we recognize those teams or team members who adhere to M&E rules and use its recommendations (and I do recognize those champions). I am working on incentive policy which will take time and huge efforts to be approved. Thanks.

  4. Fazeela Hoosen

    This is a very interesting and pertinent topic indeed. Thank you for sharing your lessons learnt. I like the idea of giving incentives to those that implement M&E recommendations. Also instilling evaluative thinking in the organizations we work within and funders and programme implementers is very important for evaluation to add value.

    1. Thanks Fazeela for your comment and it is great to know you found it worth reading. Evaluative thinking is a new notion and I probably will present my paper on it at AEA conference this year. Thanks again.

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