Internal resistance to evaluations

Author: Patrick Parnaby

Bringing in an external evaluator can overcome staff resistance.

Is everyone happy as hippos? if so, why resistance to evaluation?


There is a consensus among the staff that an evaluation is unnecessary because the program is thought to work just fine.


Hire an experienced, external evaluator to help you plan an evaluation that includes methods designed to address resistance. You might also also use an inside evaluator with whom the staff feels comfortable.


Evaluation is an important way to identify areas of waste, even in successfully run programs. For example, the program may be spending resources in the wrong areas. As the result of an evaluation, the budget is streamlined and additional resources can be acquired. This may give you access to more staff, the ability to open your program to a new market, or the funds to acquire additional technological resources that enhance your existing program.

Resistance to evaluation may be an indicator that there is something wrong. Perhaps information is being hidden from the program manager that needs to come to the surface. Or, perhaps the resistance is less insidious and instead arises from fears the program staff may have about their livelihoods. It can be helpful to address the unspoken question: “What happens if the evaluation results are bad?”

  • Could people lose their jobs?
  • Does their workload increase?
  • Who would be held accountable?

Consider using both internal and external evaluators to ensure that you get the most accurate and candid responses possible. Experienced external evaluators can help incorporate strategies to address internal resistance, whereas a good internal evaluator has a connection with the staff. Make sure the program staff is included in the evaluation whenever possible and allow for anonymity in the evaluation process when dealing with sensitive issues. This can often be facilitated by effective use of technology.

It goes without saying that evaluation is part of any successful program. Without evaluation, it is impossible to determine whether or not your program is working. Remember, just because your participants like the program doesn’t mean it’s meeting its objectives.

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