Hello fellow evaluation lovers! My name is Elizabeth Grim and I work as an evaluation consultant with The Consultation Center at Yale, where I primarily consult with community-based agencies to build evaluation capacity. Prior to joining The Consultation Center, I worked as a policy analyst for Connecticut’s statewide campaign to end homelessness.
With the growing popularity of social media, evaluators increasingly discuss data visualization and how to communicate evaluation findings to stakeholders. Yet we don’t always talk about how to effectively communicate within our own teams, which is just as important to the success of a project. Effective communication involves fostering workplaces and teams in which people are heard, understood, and acknowledged for their unique contributions.
Lesson 1: Encourage curiosity: Communication is easier when questions and comments come from a place of curiosity rather than judgment. Ask questions when discussing a project or deliverable rather than jumping immediately to feedback and conclusions.
Lesson 2: Know your colleagues: The first step in fostering better communication is developing a relationship with members of the team. How do your colleagues prefer to communicate? What are their unique skills and professional goals? What are they passionate about inside and outside of the office?
Lesson 3: Table technology: Technology provides us with more flexibility in the workplace and allows us to communicate with partners across the globe. However, technology also allows people to talk around issues, reduces the ability to contextualize information through tone of voice or facial expressions, and encourages multitasking, all of which can result in a breakdown in communication. Ask team members to check their non-essential technology at the beginning of a meeting. Consider providing an incentive like a monthly gift card drawing for those that go low-tech.
Rad Resource 1: 4 Pillars of Integrity Video Series – Make impeccable agreements. Making impeccable agreements means that you only agree to what you are able and willing to complete and that you follow through with your agreements. On the flipside, this means that you also say no to those that you are unable and/or unwilling to complete. Teams are more effective and members have more trust in each other when each member takes 100% responsibility for themselves and their actions.
Rad Resource 2: The Great Genius Swap – Work environments and teams are more effective when people enjoy what they’re doing. Conduct a genius swap with your team. Gather the team together and ask each person to write down the one task they most love to do at their job and the one task they would like to stop doing. Find opportunities for team members to continue doing what they love and explore whether you can swap responsibilities around to minimize those they don’t enjoy.
AEA is celebrating GSNE Week with our colleagues in the Graduate Student and New Evaluators AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our GSNE TIG members. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.