Effective Evaluation

When your staff members see that evaluation is on your agenda for a staff meeting, are they ready to roll up their sleeves and immerse themselves in the process of improving the camp experience or do they look at an evaluation as an imperfect, subjective, time-consuming and even punitive process?

Many staff members do not enjoy the evaluation phase of the planning process and some view it as just a waste of time. This negative perception of evaluation can often be traced to the mindset of many camp professionals who use evaluation to identify what went wrong and to focus on the weaknesses of the camp programming, staff and facilities.

Another reason that evaluation is often given such a cold reception is that it is usually scheduled for the wrap-up meeting at the end of the camp programming cycle.

The use of this traditional, end-of-season evaluation does have merit… The experiences are fresh in the minds of everyone who participated, the evaluations can be analyzed before any planning for the next camp begins, and the process of evaluation can cultivate a sense of achievement and closure for everyone involved in the camp operation.

However, the energy and objectivity that is required to implement an effective evaluation might be difficult to muster at the end of the camp season. Just like the student who puts off writing a paper until the day before it is due, the process of evaluating an entire camp season can seem overwhelming and is often treated as a task that needs to be done as quickly as possible.

Evaluate Before You Evaluate

There are many management geniuses and gurus who do not evaluate using the traditional, end–of-season approach. But before you decide to take the approach of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” as a camp owner interested in improving your operation, you might want ask some key questions about your current evaluation process.

After answering these questions, you might be inspired to consider some alternatives to the end-of-season approach:

• Do I value evaluation as a meaningful part of planning or is it just a cursory exercise?

• Does the evaluation that I currently use give me the big picture?

• Am I asking the right people for input?

• Do I use more than one method to collect data?

• Have I identified what went right?

• What will I do with the data? Do I actually use the data to re-allocate staff, rewrite the staff job descriptions, and make budgeting decisions?

• Do my staff members taken the evaluation seriously?

• Is the process a morale booster or breaker for my staff?

• Probably the most important question to ask before deciding the best approach for evaluation is: What do I want to accomplish, and how should I measure it?

Hopefully, your camp has a mission statement and objectives that guide everyone in your camp operation to meet the mission. These strategic elements should be tied into your formal evaluation process.

But to get your staff members to buy into achieving your camp’s mission and to work hard to achieve its objectives, there needs to be an immediate feedback mechanism in the evaluation process.

If staff members are trained to be the gatekeepers of quality and are empowered to be problem solvers, the evaluation process can be driven by the staff.

Two-Way Street

One method that provides immediate feedback and empowers staff members is the concept of Concurrent Control. On its most rudimentary level, concurrent control is very much like the evaluation approach that former New York City Mayor Ed Koch used when he constantly asked both his employees and constituents, “How am I doing?”

Concurrent control is a term that quality control managers use as a process of observing performance and immediately giving written feedback.

It is a process that involves a constant vigil of how things are going and does not leave the evaluating until the camp season is over.

It actually helps to identify what works and what doesn’t and empowers the camp staff to incorporate more of what works and to eliminate or adapt what doesn’t.

If concurrent control is performed collaboratively, it takes evaluation out of the negative mode of judging and places evaluation in a more productive mode of problem solving.

This concurrent control process can be implemented in many ways. It can be one-on-one supervision of camp staffers on an interval basis or it can be training camp staff members to self-monitor their own behaviors, as well as the behaviors of the campers and the overall camp environment.

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Related posts:

  1. Sensitive Subject
  2. Breaking Through
  3. Commitment to Excellence
  4. Off-Season Risk Management
  5. The Right Foot
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