Collecting feedback from a team workshop or coaching session is often an afterthought. Taking time to seek the opinions of the participants is a powerful way to improve your coaching sessions. How do you ask the right questions to get the best results? Creating an evaluation survey is an art, to craft the right questions in a way to receive helpful feedback.
Here Ariela Freedman shares how to plan an evaluation survey where each question matters. She also discusses the importance of defining the purpose of the feedback evaluation. As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, Ariela explores how some CliftonStrengths® themes may approach the data-gathering process. Take time to review your survey questionnaire so you can collect data you can actually use.
Does Anyone have a good workshop survey I can borrow?
As a CliftonStrengths® coach, you understand the power of data to inform decision-making. However, collecting evaluation data is not just about gathering as much information as possible. It’s about collecting meaningful data that can be used to improve your practice, deepen your impact as a coach, and demonstrate the value of your work.
What do we mean by meaningful evaluation data?
Meaningful evaluation data is data you can USE. It is tied to your own goals and objectives, which may vary over time. It may focus on improving your practice and/or it may focus on demonstrating your impact (among other possible questions). These are two examples of different goals, and it’s important to get clear about the purpose of your evaluation survey before you start creating an evaluation plan.
Focusing on your evaluation is important. If you have too much data, you’ll spend more time collecting and analyzing it than you do using it. If you don’t have enough data, you may miss important insights and opportunities to improve your coaching practice and support your clients’ growth.
This article is not going to provide you with a canned survey to use for every workshop or coaching client. Instead, it is designed to help you make intentional choices about how to evaluate your work – with a focus on clarity and simplicity.
Distinguishing between research and evaluation
Here’s an important sidebar for the rigorous research-inclined coaches: Remember that evaluation is about improving our own practice. It’s not about publishing your work in peer-reviewed journals, having the biggest sample size, using methods that can be scrutinized and reproduced, or testing new theories or models.
Evaluation is about making your work better. To that end, less is more. The goal is to collect the least amount of data possible to get the maximum return on your data energy investment. That allows you to spend your time coaching most effectively, rather than collecting and analyzing data about coaching.
What do you mean by an evaluation plan?
In short: what data are you going to collect, from whom, by which methods, and by when? Additionally, an evaluation plan also includes planning how you will analyze the data and how you will use it. An evaluation can be simple, like a survey. It can be more complex and include observations or focus groups. While many people use surveys, it’s often because they’re not aware of other options. Just as we work with clients to be intentional about which Strength they’re using and how they’re using it, it’s important to remember that we have many choices for how we evaluate our work. Our goal is to be strategic and focus on quality at each step of the way.
What questions should I ask myself as I am developing an evaluation plan?
As we’ve discussed, intentionality is key to developing an evaluation plan. Here are a few questions for considering your approach:
- What do I want to do with this data?
Am I improving or refining my approach? Am I seeking success stories to share?
- How am I defining success in my workshops or coaching sessions?
What are the goals and objectives of what I’m doing? Use these as a foundation for writing questions.
- What’s the minimum number of people from whom I can collect data?
Really – it’s not necessary to collect data from everyone!
- How much time do I have to collect and analyze this data?
- Do I have the skills needed to collect and analyze this data well?
If not, who might be able to help me?
- What options do I have for collecting data? Survey – internet, handwritten, etc.
What data collection method will get me the best data from this group while maximizing my resources?
- Am I seeking qualitative data, quantitative data, or a mix of both?
- How simple can I make this evaluation plan?
What is “nice to have” but not necessarily needed?
By considering these questions and others, you can develop a thoughtful and effective evaluation process. It can help you measure the impact of your coaching practice and continuously improve your approach to coaching.
How might a coach’s Strengths impact their approach to collecting evaluation data?
Self-awareness is a key component to developing an evaluation plan. Let’s look at some examples about how different Strengths might approach collecting evaluation data:
A coach with the Strength of Input® might approach an evaluation survey by gathering as much information as possible from as many people as possible. This strategy can provide a broad and diverse range of insights and perspectives, which can help the coach make more informed decisions about their coaching approach. However, a potential drawback is that it may lead to information overload or analysis paralysis if the coach becomes too focused on gathering information, without taking action to apply that information to their coaching practice. The Input strength can also lead to a tendency to collect data indiscriminately, without a clear sense of how that data will be used or what specific insights it will provide.
A coach with the Strength of Maximizer® might approach evaluation by focusing on clients’ Strengths and finding ways to enhance and amplify them. They might prioritize collecting data on how clients have used their Strengths to achieve success and use that data to guide their coaching approach. This can be helpful in ensuring that clients feel empowered and motivated to continue building on their Strengths. However, a potential drawback is that it may overlook areas of weaknesses that could benefit from attention. This Strength might also only want to survey the higher performers, rather than collect data from everyone. Together, these tendencies may result in missing out on helpful data that could be used to modify coaching practices to help lower performers level up.
How might each of your Strengths approach evaluating your work? How can you help your team of Strengths work together to craft a focused and straightforward evaluation plan that you can actually use?
Remember: Less is more! Make the best use of your time and energy by focusing on quality data collection, rather than collecting as much data as possible.
Need help creating your workshop survey?
Contact Ariela Freedman for more information and help in creating an evaluation survey for your workshop.