Internal Eval TIG Week: Gaining Acceptance as an Internal Evaluator by Maddison Staszkiewicz

Hello! My name is Maddison Staszkiewicz, and I am the Chair of the Graduate Students and New Evaluators TIG. I have spent my evaluation career to date working as an internal evaluator and studying the dynamics through former graduate work. For many evaluators, such as Catherine Nameth who wrote this AEA365 post, evaluation is not their primary role. This can make it even more challenging to gain acceptance within a team when working as an internal evaluator, as illustrated by Chris Lysy for the GSNE TIG in November 2020.

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Cartoon by Chris Lysy
  • As an evaluator, but especially as an internal evaluator, workplace politics are important to understand and navigate to gain acceptance when conducting an evaluation. There is often a desire to keep evaluators an arm’s length away and believe that a program is working because good work is being done. 
  • Someone in the company you work for is signing your paycheck! The power dynamic is critical, as though you work internal to an organization, you must remain unbiased and ethical in your processes and reporting. There may be pressures for positive results, even when that is not the case.

Hot Tips

  • Incorporate ice breakers into meetings if there are staff members who do not know each other, or even if everyone knows each other, use the opportunity to create a stronger team for the evaluation.
  • Explain the purpose of the evaluation (more times than you might think you need to!) to ensure everyone understands why the evaluation is needed and their role
  • Use documentation that may be typically used in contract work. Think Statement of Work, timeline, anything that can be used to unite and align the evaluator and the other staff member(s).
  • Utilize organizational gatekeepers to support evaluation work.
  • Remember how exciting it is to be an internal evaluator! This role gives you so much insight into the organization as Ann Emery wrote, and you can foster great relationships.

Rad Resources

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Internal Evaluation (IE) Topical Interest Group Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our IE 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 AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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