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Evaluation Teams Week: Leading evaluation teams by Chithra Adams and Leah Goldstein Moses

Hello, we are Chithra Adams, Director of Evaluations at the Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky, and Leah Goldstein Moses, CEO of The Improve Group, a research and evaluation consulting firm based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This week, we are curating a series of posts about the efficacy and potential pitfalls of working in teams. This post offers reflections on some key lessons learned in leading evaluation teams.

Lessons Learned:

  • Different situations call for different types of leadership. But some leadership behaviors may conflict with each other. For example, a leader might adopt an open and facilitative mindset during a brainstorming session. On the other hand, a task-oriented mindset might be needed to ensure that an evaluation project is implemented on time.
  • Teams adopt different strategies along a continuum to getting their work done – from full co-creation and collaboration to splitting tasks among team members. It can be useful to determine what strategy is best suited for the project at hand. If teams fall into a habit of working the same way all the time, they miss out on the benefits of other ways of working.
  • The level of team functioning contributes to both the success of a project and the experience of a project. When your team works well together, you can get more done, your team can go into greater depth by attending to various perspectives, AND the members of the team can have a great time with each other.
  • Finally, sometimes it takes a while to see the impact of evaluation. So take time to celebrate incremental successes and practice gratitude.

Hot Tips:

  • Like any skill, leadership improves with practice. Use time to reflect and foster self-awareness about your own responses and how they may influence your team’s dynamic. Remember to be kind to yourself and forgive your mistakes.
  • Likewise, extend this attitude of kindness and forgiveness to team members. Many teams adopt norms or values as they form. “Assume good intent” can be a useful motto.

Rad Resources:

Could clarifying values help your team? Try this exercise from Entrepreneur Magazine around developing your team’s shared values.

If you feel your team is in a rut, this blog lists great activities for team-building.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Evaluation Teams Week. 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.

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