The Welcomed Evaluation

by Kendra Fleming

If we want to be the kind of team that is always improving, creating, learning, and growing, then we must welcome evaluation. Evaluation is the system that allows us to be better. Evaluation creates the space and opportunity for new ideas and innovative solutions.

Your first job as a leader is to create a culture where evaluation is welcomed. This can be difficult. It can definitely bring out our own insecurities and the insecurities of the team.

Here are a few ideas that will cause your team to look forward to evaluation:

1. It should be safe.

We aren’t tearing down and pointing out the flaws of an individual, we are looking to improve an environment. Those are two very different things.

Your team will trust you if you lead in such a way that evaluation doesn’t feel like a personal attack. When they trust you, they will be more open and honest in the evaluation process.

2. Your team must experience the benefit.

If you tear things apart, give critical feedback, and discuss solutions that could make things better, but you never follow through with the changes, your team will be frustrated. They will see no point in giving feedback.

If you take careful notes, put together a plan, and work as a team to implement the changes, they will see and experience “the new and improved” and they will take pride in their work.

3. It should be consistent.

No one should be surprised that you are going to debrief after an event. No one should be nervous about whether anyone noticed that glitch on Sunday. Evaluation should be expected.

When evaluation is expected everyone observes what is happening through new eyes. They are taking notes to make things better. They walk into a meeting comfortable and ready to move forward.

If you have a weekly environment, I recommend that you evaluate weekly. We evaluate on Monday mornings. It’s also a great practice to get away with your team a few times a year and spend some extended time evaluating and dreaming about what could be.

4. Create a system.

For years I carried a 3×5-inch card or a piece of paper in my pocket on Sunday mornings and jotted down things I wanted to remember. Now, I mostly take notes on my phone.

I think about them before I bring them up and decide if it is really worth mentioning. I don’t mention every little thing I see and neither should you. That’s exhausting for the team.

We always have a note taker in evaluation meetings. This allows us to go back and remember what was said, and helps the directors as they go back and share with their teams.

Larger actionable items land on our agenda and we talk about the progress made toward improvement until we feel good about the change. Smaller items are followed up on with the director of that area.

5. Think before you critique.

As the leader your opinion carries a lot of weight. What you question, what you improve, what you spend time evaluating and making better says a lot to the team about what you value.

You can model for your team how to welcome feedback by asking them to evaluate you. If you are speaking at an event, ask for their feedback. If you are designing a printed piece, ask for their feedback. Listen to what they have to say, ask clarifying questions, and don’t defend. Then make changes!

Leaders love progress! Evaluation helps you move things toward success. Embrace it!

We are honored to have Kendra Fleming, a dear friend, guest post on our blog. Kendra is the Director of Children’s Ministry at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA. She lives in Cumming, GA with her husband Gary and their four children, Jessica (19), Catherine (18), Jack (15) and Emily (13).

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Orange Leaders
The Orange Group is a gathering of leaders who are passionate about engaging churches and families to influence the faith and character of the next generation. Contributors include some of the most widely respected thought-leaders in children’s ministry, including Reggie Joiner, Sue Miller, Kendra Fleming, Jim Wideman, and Bre Hallberg. New blog entries, podcasts, webcasts, and video downloads are available every week to help you keep leading yourself and growing with your team.