The Evaluation Mentor: A Wish List [Guest post by Katie Aasland]

Sep 18th, 2012 / Data Visualization /

Greetings, I’m Katie Aasland, and I’ve worked in the evaluation field for less than a year. I have composed a list of the traits I find most helpful as a fledgling evaluator in the hopes of fostering more of those behaviors in readers who currently have mentees.

  • Be Supportive. As newbies in the field, we will ask you lots and lots of questions. We are the proverbial clay and need molding. I may have learned about evaluation in course work or have some prior experience, but I don’t know your organization yet. It is difficult to find mistakes in reporting or calculations when I do not know what the outcomes typically look like. No one wants to report incorrect information, so there may be a period where I want to double-check everything with you before sending it out.
  • Have Patience. My questions will lessen as I am more comfortable with the job.  I just want to make sure I’m doing things right. Jobs and the life of programs may depend on our work – it’s a lot of pressure to get used to!
  • Encourage us to Slow Down. Being told to slow down is helpful. In school and other jobs, I tended to finish things quickly and was rewarded for it. In order to do quality evaluation, one needs to take the time to focus and really think about what data are showing.
  • Be Organized. When the processes, communications, computer files, and reports are streamlined, things go smoothly and I can help you conduct a better evaluation.
  • Provide Structure. I have a weekly and monthly schedule of when things need to be accomplished, so when I finish one task, I know where to go to find the next task I can work on.  Also, having routine things to work on provides me with insight into the organization and familiarizes me with our information.
  • Have a Sense of Humor. Evaluation can be a stressful field, especially when money or jobs are on the line. It is great to laugh, even for a second, and a sense of camaraderie can buffer against burnout.

— Katie Aasland

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