At ACET, we strongly believe in “capacity building” – but what does that mean? Basically, we believe in creating and implementing evaluation plans that involve our clients. Our clients have input in every step of the evaluation process, which enables us to find the plan that best suits the needs of their program or organization. In turn, they learn how to use the evaluation results to improve programming. Since capacity building is so important to us, we work hard to ensure that we maintain open and transparent communication with our clients.
Stella learned of a video while at the American Evaluation Association conference that summed up precisely what NOT to do when communicating with your clients.
The video is amusing, but it brings up some essential key points.
“What does this mean?” Use clear language that clients can understand. Those test results may be second nature to you, but like the man in the video, your client may have no idea what those numbers actually mean.
“What does a score of 35 tell me about my patient?” In our experience, clients don’t want random numbers to throw around; they want solid information that they can use to improve their programming. Be sure to clearly delineate what their results mean and answer any questions they may have.
“I used the scale you developed to measure my patient.” Your client trusts that you have expertise about evaluation – after all, they’re using products you likely designed! – but being able to communicate that knowledge is essential in maintaining the relationship.
The end of the video is also telling. Despite the researcher’s supposed credentials, the client doesn’t want to deal with her anymore. Clients, too, may want to stop working with someone they feel isn’t right for their organization, even if that person or company has years of accolades.
Do you have any thoughts to share about communicating with clients? We’d love to hear them!