The past two weeks we have discussed some ways to simply, efficiently and effectively evaluate your coalition. The first evaluation post focused primarily on reflection and the second evaluation post, we highlighted who to ask. This week we are focused on three of my favorite questions to ask when evaluating a coalition. These questions can be used in many different situations when assessing the situation and trying to glean information from your partners. Take the time to listen carefully and take notes on the answers to each of these questions.
- What is working well? When we evaluate, our tendency is often to try to figure out what is not working or what needs improvement. While this is important (see question #2), I have found it particularly helpful to begin the conversation with what is working well. This helps you frame the conversation in a positive and productive way and reminds you and your partners that although things may not be perfect, there are some things that may be working well and you would like to continue doing.
- What isn’t working well (or what could be improved)? After you have discussed what is working well, take some time to discuss what isn’t working well. Depending upon your context and your partners’ willingness to be honest about what isn’t working well, you may need to “reframe” the question into “what could be improved?” You will often get similar responses but people won’t be as worried about appearing “negative.”
- What do you recommend? This question may be answered as you discuss the previous two questions, but if they have not yet answered this question, be sure to ask it! Most of the time, people love to give advice and their perspective on what could be done. This is a time to listen and take notes – not to tell them why their suggestions will or will not work! 🙂 This also helps move the conversation from a discussion about problems “what isn’t working well” to a discussion about solutions. As leaders, we often have the misconception that we have to have all of the answers. When we take the time to ask these questions, we will often make better decisions and increase buy-in from our coalition.
The greatest value in asking these questions and listening to the answers is taking action on what you learn. Be sure to take notes, check in with your partners to be sure you heard them correctly and do something with what you learn!
So what about you? Do you already ask these questions when leading a coalition or partnership? Do you have any other questions that you like to ask?
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