Week 74: Being Evaluated by a Client

How does a client evaluate the evaluator? Giving referrals or being hired again are certainly signs the client gave the evaluator a positive evaluation. But what are other ways?

I worked with a client that had a standing evaluation procedure for all people or organizations they contracted with. They had developed a one page questionnaire with items about different attributes such as timeliness, professionalism, and positively representing the organization. For each items there were two options, “Meets” or “Does not meet,” and a section for comments.

We were asked to fill out this questionnaire each quarter as a self reflection tool. Their core team would fill out the same document and then we would hold a meeting to discuss.

Outcome: Prepping for the initial meeting took quite a bit of time. We had all of the evaluation team members on the project fill out the questionnaire and provide evidence for each item. We also used the original contract to support what we were doing.

The actual meeting took about an hour. Five people from the client’s team were on the phone, along with five evaluation team members. We discussed each item on the questionnaire and were graded by the client as “Meets” or “Does not meet.”

Tips if you are asked to do this…

  1. Make sure the tool is appropriate. One of the questions asked if the contractor (in this case, the evaluation team) was qualified to do the work. After the first quarterly review, it is not necessary to ask this question every three months, unless the team changes. Review the instrument and make sure it is appropriate.
  2. Conduct the review with your contract close by. It can be easy for a client to say, “You should be doing X, Y, and Z.” But if X, Y, and Z aren’t part of the contract, this shouldn’t negatively affect your review.
  3. Is this process giving you or the client information you really need? In my experience, we had 10 people on the phone at one time, a difficult feat to coordinate so many schedules. Besides talking about the contractor, it would have been helpful to have time during this meeting to discuss the project and what needs to be done.
  4. Have the time available. To complete the questionnaire, plan and conduct the meeting took about two hours per person of the evaluation team. With five people on the team, doing these meetings on a quarterly basis takes 40 man hours a year. This is a week’s worth of time every year not spent on the project. Are there time and funds available for this type of reflection?
  5. Be clear with the client. How will this be used? Will this be shared? Who will see it? 

So what do you think? Would you find value in this type of exercise as an evaluator? As a client?

DR. EVERETT’S USEFUL TIP: Reflecting on practice is an important aspect of an evaluator. Do you reflect on your practice with your client? What does it look like?