While watching American Idol (yes, I watch it and I admit it. And I’m convinced anyone who claims not to is just afraid to admit that they do!), I noticed something about the way the judges, Randy, Paula and Simon (you all know who these people are at this point so I won’t elaborate here), deliver their feedback after an individual has performed.
If Randy likes a performer/performance, he gets very excited and it shows. He says things like, “You blew me away dawg.” or “I’m million percent positive.” If he doesn’t like a performance, he’ll deliver his opinion in a very sensitive and caring manner and it’s obvious he’s trying his best not to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Paula on the other hand, always has something positive to say, no matter how poor the performance. She finds something she can comment on to make the person feel good, even if it’s the color of that person’s socks. She delivers a negative opinion with lots of reasons for the person to be positive. When she likes a performance, she positively gushes and is effusive with her praise.
Then there is Simon, the judge everyone loves to hate. Whether his opinion is positive or negative, Simon is always direct, succinct and very matter-of-fact. His expression is most often one of consternation, as if he expects the performance to be extremely poor. On those rare occasions that he likes a performer, he might almost smile.
So, what’s all this got to do with proposals? Well, it strikes me that this panel of judges is not unlike evaluation teams I’ve seen or of which I have been a member. An evaluation team is made up of individuals, all of whom have their own opinions and styles.
There’s usually a member that’s an “easy marker”. This type of evaluator will allow lots of leeway. Then there’s the completely positive type that seems to like everything and anything. And of course, evaluation teams often have their version of Simon. That is, someone who expects to only see poor quality proposals and is already in a negative mindset at the outset.
Whether it’s as a member of an evaluation team, within a workshop or while presenting feedback from an assessment, Jon and I have very different styles when it comes to delivering feedback, as those who know us well can attest. I tend to fall into the Randy mold, as I deliver negative feedback as gently as I can and do my best to not hurt a responder’s feelings. Anyone who knows Jon will probably agree he’s a bit more like Simon. That is, he’s more direct and a bit more “tell it like it is.” I can’t help but think there’s also something to do with my being American and Jon, like Simon, being British. (If we have a Paula on our team, it’s either Graham or our writer Jen.)
There’s something to be gained and learned from each type of evaluator, and it’s important that we know that there are all types of “judges” on evaluation teams.