Exercise activity is best observed and evaluated by individuals specifically assigned to the task of observation or evaluation.
A good rule of thumb is to have enough evaluators to observe each and every key activity, inject, and response by the participants. Often, it is either cost prohibitive or simply not feasible to have more than one or two evaluators. In such cases, the exercise should be designed to accommodate the number of evaluators.
The inject messages and interrupts that help change and move the scenario along should be spaced in such a way that the evaluator(s) has time to adequately observe and note each inject or key activity.
A good evaluator should above all be honest, fair, objective and a keen observer of detail while at the same time one who can interpret actions and activities as they unfold. In addition, these are some attributes of a good evaluator should be able to:
§ understand the organization and how it operates
§ be available to attend meetings
§ discern between the exercise activity and the people, and focus on the activity
§ determine if the exercise objectives are being met
§ know that if problems arise, how to inform the facilitator in a way that helps move the scenario along and help keep things ‘alive’
§ observe without getting drawn into the scenario or getting distracted
§ clearly utilize objectives, observe outcomes, and track key injects to successful conclusion.
In order for the participants to learn from the exercise in a supportive way, evaluators should refrain from making personal attacks, or singling out individuals behavior. Even singling out individuals who may have stood out doing a tasks very well can alienate others.
Comments that are helpful are those that connect the tasks performed to the objectives of the exercise. Also, the evaluators can acknowledge an issue that may have been cause by the nature of the event, the inject message design, or an inability to fully simulate a particular activity.
In the event that an evaluator primarily critiques individuals, the facilitator can do a few things to help mitigate any backlash or uneasiness. The facilitator can help diffuse the situation immediately by mentioning the issue in a broader context. Of course, a confident facilitator could counteract the individual critique by simply saying ‘we are not here to point out individual actions, we are a team and we all own every aspect of how the scenario unfolded. Therefore, let’s refrain from directing comments to individuals.”
Prior to the exercise, the evaluators should be instructed on how to provide proper feedback in a group. And if needed, subsequently, the evaluator(s) should be with by the facilitator privately to correct the approach taken by the evaluators if inappropriate.