I’m Norma Martinez-Rubin, an independent evaluation consultant and Independent Consulting TIG Chairperson 2011. Here I present a few lessons learned in transition from being an external to internal consultant.
Claiming to be multicultural boosts the self-confidence required upon beginning a new evaluation project. Combine that with visualization of near success and that increases my confidence by volumes. Whether I use such “tricks” to approach a short-term or multi-year project, my recurrent challenge is to find the right mix of approachability, credibility, contribution, and professional satisfaction to come away from the project with a sense of integrity and professionalism. Arming oneself with professional standards and competencies is a requisite, but that doesn’t necessarily minimize what I call the “people factor” —the intricacies and idiosyncrasies within human relations that undoubtedly influence one’s performance as an evaluator in organizational cultures with their own vocabularies, operational flows, and personalities.
Picture yourself as the evaluator on a project requiring your expertise, flexibility, patience, and skills to discern pertinent issues from personal preferences of project stakeholders surrounding you. What are the agendas and preferences at play?
Understanding one’s emotions and their management extends beyond the field of psychology into organizational and professional development. Daniel Goleman (http://danielgoleman.info/topics/emotional-intelligence/) expanded the concept of emotional intelligence from it origins within the field of psychology. Since the mid-90s, his writings have been used for leadership development and business development courses. And for good reason. Personal and social competence combined with intellectual competence makes for a better-rounded individual. Our world could stand to have more people who reflect upon that.
Evaluators have recognized the quality of being reflective among the necessary elements that distinguish quality evaluation. Based on a review of manuscripts submitted for publication in a forthcoming book on qualitative inquiry, Janet Usinger at the University of Nevada, Reno and colleagues identified that among the Three Hallmarks of Quality in qualitative evaluation. The other two were transparency and an educative process (Evaluation 2010, Session #314, “Quality In Evaluation: How Do We know It When We See It in Qualitative Evaluations?”)
Hot Tip: Participation in a local chapter of a management consulting organization (www.imcusa.org) exposes one to varied disciplines outside of the field of evaluation. In a collegial and professional atmosphere, learning from management consultants outside of the evaluation field increases one’s appreciation of those “external factors” typically considered when designing a logic model or presenting alternative explanations for evaluation findings. In other words, one’s worldview is expanded. That’s a good thing that transfers to better communication with prospective clients and/or program stakeholders no matter the culture.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Independent Consultants (IC) TIG Week with our colleagues in the IC AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC 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.