Evaluate Your Performance

Measurement is an important and sometimes overlooked component of any project or ongoing professional endeavor. If you are working on a finite project or event, keep records of attendance; poll your audience and track comments, suggestions, stories and ideas that are generated as a result of your work. For ongoing ventures, you might send a quarterly or annual survey to participants, partners or stakeholders to track any transactional data and measure those outcomes over time.

Looking at stories or numbers side-by-side can give you an interesting and often unexpected picture of your work. You can see where you were successful and where there may be weaknesses. You may see bits of information that point to the need for an additional skill set or a collaboration or partnership. Comments may reveal unintended consequences—good or bad—of decisions you made throughout the creative process.

In addition to surveying your audience or clients, get feedback from your collaborators, peers, advisors and funders either formally or informally.  This may include scheduling an informal discussion to talk about your performance or work to gain additional insights.

Developing a Survey

Developing a good survey can become its own art form. There are a number of consultants and research firms who are dedicated to asking the right questions, in the right order and collecting them in the most appropriate manner. Without hiring a consultant, there are a few tips we can share to help you develop an effective survey and analyze the results:

  • Take time and care in crafting your questions. It’s not uncommon to spend the majority of your time just figuring out what questions to ask.
  • Be strategic. It’s important to ask targeted questions, rather than every possible question you can think of. This shows respect for your survey taker’s time and will help prevent data overload during your analysis.
  • Don’t build assumptions into your survey. When putting together your survey questions, avoid asking leading questions or building emotion into the survey. This will allow you to stay as objective as possible.
  • Put your most important questions upfront. The rate of people completing the final questions of a survey tends to be far less than the rate of completion for those asked first.
  • Go through the entire process with an open mind. You’ll likely get a wide range of responses, but remember not to take anything personally. Instead, focus on how you can constructively use all positive, negative and neutral information to make your work even better in the future.