This year, in the two teams I’ve worked in, we’ve asked our team members in our weekly meetings what their wins or high points were from the week before. This helps us get to know what each of our team members likes most about their work and what motivates them, and it also provides a space to reflect and highlight our strengths. I’ve noticed a few consistent themes in our wins, which I think also provide a good summary of the best parts of our work in 2023.
The report or presentation landed! It’s going to get used!
There’s a certain amount of satisfaction and relief in dotting the last ‘i’, adding the last set of data labels to a chart in a report and… hitting send. But that feeling is unmatched by the moment when you know that the data you’ve collected and the recommendations you’ve made are appreciated by decision makers and when you get the sense they will be implemented. My highlight from earlier this month was a client literally going through and highlighting parts of the report for themselves to prioritise changes for their next program iteration.
We came up with a creative idea or pivoted to meet a client’s needs!
It’s not always possible to anticipate every aspect of what will be needed to successfully deliver a project. Sometimes clients have needs that come up mid-project – we are lucky in having creative, adaptive and multi-skilled team members who can meet these needs responsively! My team members have shared the enjoyment they get from being able to pivot or draw on their experience and expertise to come up with creative ideas to provide the support, consultation, or deliverables needed.
I got to see my colleague in action, doing an amazing job!
It may surprise you to know as consultants most of us are at least partly introverted, and are not terribly comfortable blowing our own trumpets. But what I’ve noticed from our ‘wins of the week’ is that my colleagues get real joy from sharing and celebrating their peers’ successes. There have been plenty of examples of someone sharing when a colleague has done something challenging and gotten a great result.
We also take every opportunity to learn from each other. Getting to observe and learn—for example, from someone’s facilitation skills, presentation or interviewing style, or their considered and meticulous code writing for quantitative analysis—often comes up as a win.
I got to go out on fieldwork!
During COVID, we all got very comfortable using online methods for interviewing and focus groups, but one of the brilliant things about our job is getting to connect with people and places in person. In person discussions, interviews and site visits give us a much richer understanding of the evaluation context. (And often, some delightful social interaction!). For evaluation capacity building and co-design projects where we get to do this multiple times with the same people, it’s the trusting relationships built and the observable increase in evaluative thinking that get mentioned the most in our ‘wins of the week’.
I spent time in nature/with my family/friends!
Sometimes, when the week has been a hard slog, the win of the week is getting to put it down to spend time hiking, gardening, swimming, visiting family, or catching up with friends. As Jade, Sharon and Jo Farmer shared in the AES23 workshop ‘The marathon, not the sprint’, to build an evaluation career that lasts, we all need self-care strategies, breaks from work and a network of people we can rely on in those hard slog weeks to provide us with perspective and care.
These are all things I look forward to getting back to in the new year! We hope you are also reflecting on and celebrating your wins of the year, savouring moments of connection, and getting the rest and relaxation you need. See you in 2024!