Navigating stakeholder conflicts when developing evaluation recommendations

Navigating stakeholder conflicts when developing evaluation recommendations
3 contributions

Navigating stakeholder conflicts when developing evaluation recommendations

Stakeholder workshop
©FAO

One of the main challenges in program and project evaluations is negotiating recommendations that are accepted and implemented without compromising the evaluation's independence, integrity, and credibility. This involves balancing diverse stakeholder needs and ensuring recommendations are practical and actionable. Strategic reflection on these recommendations should occur during key phases—planning, mid-evaluation, and final reporting. Engaging stakeholders at these times ensures their input and buy-in. Incorporating strategic reflection into methodology, analysis, and reporting through inclusive approaches and thorough assessments can enhance the acceptance and implementation of recommendations.

Addressing the challenges relating to those issues requires tackling among other the following key questions:

  • How can differing interests and conflicts among stakeholders be managed to ensure that evaluation recommendations are accepted and effectively implemented without impeding the evaluation process?
  • How can cultural differences be navigated and respected in the evaluation process to ensure that recommendations are objective and culturally sensitive?
  • How can external pressures and political agendas be managed to protect the impartiality of evaluation findings and ensure that the resulting recommendations are credible and unbiased?
  • To what extent should evaluation recommendations be influenced by the evaluator's professional judgment and experience, in addition to other sources, to ensure they are practical and well-founded?

I hope members of the community will be interested in sharing contributions on this topic.

Thierno 

  • Dear Adéléké, 

    I read with a lot of interest your post on Likedin titled: "Evaluation Recommendations: What are the requirements?" 
    <https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/recommandations-dune-evaluation-quelles-en-sont-les-armel-h-oguniyi/>".
    The post provides very useful guidance for both evaluation practitioners and users. It highlights the strategic aspect of the roles and expectations of key stakeholders throughout the evaluation process, particularly in the development of recommendations. He also highlighted a critical aspect in presenting the recommendations, namely explaining the challenges associated with implementation.

    Best regards

    Thierno 
     

  • Dear Thierno! This is a good topic for discussion.

    The responsibility for drafting "good recommendations" does not lie solely with the evaluator. The commissioner's responsibility is also seriously engaged. In my professional experience, drafting recommendations is the most complex and delicate part of the process of writing an evaluation report. In practice, when I examine an evaluation report, the 'recommendations' chapter is the one I always read first, even before appreciating the executive summary. Through the recommendations, the evaluator demonstrates: (i) his mastery of the subject, (ii) his expertise in the sector/area being evaluated, (iii) all his analytical and writing skills and (iv) all his powers of persuasion (yes!). That's what a quality evaluation report is all about, at least in my opinion.

    I published a short article on the subject on LinkedIn, accessible via this link Formulating recommendations . https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/recommandations-dune-evaluation-quelles-…

    Thanks again for this subject, which is still very topical.

    Adéléké.

    [Original contribution in French]
     

     

  • Navigating stakeholder conflicts when developing evaluation recommendations requires a thoughtful and inclusive approach. Here are some strategies to help you balance diverse stakeholder needs and ensure actionable recommendations:
     
    1. Identify and engage stakeholders early: Map out all relevant stakeholders, including their interests, needs, and cultural backgrounds. Engage with them throughout the evaluation process to build trust and understanding.
     
    2. Establish a shared purpose*: Collaborate with stakeholders to define a common goal for the evaluation, focusing on the overall benefit rather than individual interests.
     
    3. Use a facilitative approach: Facilitate open discussions, actively listening to stakeholders' concerns and values. Encourage transparent communication to address potential conflicts early on.
     
    4. Culturally sensitive and responsive: Consider the cultural contexts and nuances of diverse stakeholders. Be sensitive to power dynamics and language barriers, ensuring equitable participation.
     
    5. Prioritize inclusivity and representation: Ensure that the evaluation team reflects the diversity of stakeholders. This helps to build trust and ensures that diverse perspectives are integrated into the recommendations.
     
    6. Focus on evidence-based recommendations: Ground your recommendations in robust data and analysis, minimizing the influence of personal biases or political pressure.
     
    7. Negotiate and compromise: When conflicts arise, facilitate negotiations and seek mutually acceptable solutions. Be willing to adapt recommendations to accommodate diverse needs while maintaining their integrity.
     
    8. Communicate effectively: Present findings and recommendations clearly, using accessible language and visual aids. Ensure that all stakeholders understand the evaluation's purpose, process, and outcomes.
     
    9. Be flexible and adaptive: Be prepared to adjust your approach as needed in response to emerging conflicts or new information.
     
    10. Maintain ethical standards: Uphold ethical principles, such as integrity, impartiality, and transparency, to build trust and credibility with all stakeholders.