My name is Stanley Capela. I am an applied sociologist who currently is the Vice President for Quality Management and Corporate Compliance Officer for HeartShare Human Services of New York. I am also a Commissioner, Team Leader and Peer Reviewer for the Council on Accreditation. I have been an internal evaluator for the past 43 years and have learned what the ingredients are for a successful internal evaluation. This brief blog is my recipe.
Ingredient 1: The Role of Senior Leadership
I have been very fortunate in that senior management has a clear understanding of the evaluation process and the role it plays ensuring quality services. Ensuring understanding and buy-in from senior leadership is critical to success.
Ingredient 2: Communication
Senior management plays a key role in communicating your role within the organization. Ensure everyone from senior management to line staff understand that program evaluation helps to identify strengths and challenges in program performance, and address questions and concerns about your role and responsibilities.
Ingredient 3: Utilization Focused
Michael Patton’s Utilization Focused Evaluation book was the first book I read when I started my career, and it has stuck with me – if the information is not useful and utilized you are wasting your time. The key ingredient is to have a contextual understanding of the organizational and program environment, that you are giving stakeholders what they need, and you are best able to communicate results in a way stakeholders can understand.
Ingredient 4: Empowerment
The key ingredient is to engage line staff and clients in the evaluation process, so that they feel empowered to use and reflect on the information. When the internal evaluator actively engages line staff as well as clients in identifying strengths and challenges it makes the evaluation, relevant, useful and come to life. David Fetterman’s work on Empowerment Evaluation provides a viable approach that might be worth a review.
Ingredient 5: Contextual
As a peer reviewer I have learned it is important to have a contextual understanding of the environment in which you are evaluating. The way I evaluate an organization in North Dakota and Illinois is different from the way I would review a program within HeartShare.
Ingredient 6: Let Go of Your Ego
During the course of my career, I have had to deal with resistance to evaluation. The key ingredient is not to take things personally. Listen to what is said, assess how you can communicate your message in a way folks understand your role and more importantly look at it as a positive learning experience.
If you have any comments or questions, I can be reached at Stanley.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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