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Internal Evaluation TIG Week: Steering Evaluation within a New Organization by Rhonda Williams

Hello! My name is Rhonda Williams, PhD., and I am the Director of Impact & Evaluation for Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas in Dallas. In this new role, I lead a small team working across the organization, focusing on the impact and evaluation of many programs and various strategic initiatives. As someone still growing in this field, I still search for tips and advice from others to improve my professional knowledge and skills. Here is an older post I developed in my first evaluation role; now, I want to add some tips for a new organization.

Hot Tip #1:  Understanding the Strategic Vision

Reviewing the strategic plan, its updates and supporting documents is an excellent first step in understanding an organization’s strategic vision. Additional steps that might assist you are to speak with others to learn from their opinions about the strategic initiatives. By combing the formal and informal, you will learn more about the short-term and long-term vision of the organization, which will help you as an internal evaluator.

Hot Tip #2:  Staying Connected

Setting up meetings with key stakeholders within your organization helps you stay connected to others beyond your current projects. Meetings can be quarterly, bi-monthly, or monthly and brief in nature. These meetings serve to broaden your understanding of key priorities and will help you improve your approach or design for future projects. Consider others at various levels in your organization to have to meet with regularly. Having lunch, coffee breaks and virtual catch-up work well to stay connected.

Hot Tip #3: Collaborating with Others

This is a previous post where I discuss collaboration and its benefits. Collaboration is a personal and professional skill set that you must continuously improve as you grow as an evaluator. A mark of true collaboration that extends beyond email communication is when you can access others by having quick chats when critical information or clarification is needed. Develop relationships with others within and outside your organization that allow you to collaborate and obtain peer mentorship.The tips I have shared have come from mentors, happenstance, and trial & error. As an internal evaluator, you are very valuable to your organization and must continue to learn how to support efforts on outcomes or impact best. However, you must learn how to best connect your ideas and thoughts to your organization’s context and history. I hope these tips help you on your journey!

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@eval.org. 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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