Evals have been a frequent topic of discussion this week between the heavyweight and lightweight coaches and I. One of the conversations I had was about the things I think make evals effective – beyond, you know, actually doing them and going over them with your coxswains instead of just shoving 30 pieces of paper their way and expecting them to decipher everything on their own.
You have to do them on a regular basis throughout the year – once a year whenever you or your coach remembers isn’t good enough. One of the biggest ways we created buy-in from the MIT guys was by doing them consistently at the same time every year .. in the fall during the week between HOCR and the Princeton Chase, mid-week during the winter training trip in Cocoa Beach, and again mid-week during spring break. It got to the point where they’d start asking me if “we’re gonna do evals this week” because they knew they were coming up.
Having them on your calendar and doing them at key points throughout the season means that your performance from training camp, that big race, etc. will be fresh in everyone’s mind, which in turn leads to them being able to elaborate more on the feedback they’re giving you.
Support from the coaches
No, coaches, this doesn’t mean saying “yea evals are a good idea, go ahead and put something together and hand them out”. Another one of the big ways that helped create buy-in at MIT was how wholeheartedly supportive the coaches were and they showed that by introducing the evals to the team (specifically the freshman) each fall and explaining why we think they’re an important tool in coaching the coxswains that by providing the coxswains – their teammates – with feedback that will aid in their development throughout the year, they’re helping make the team faster.
Related: Coxswain evaluations 2.0
I made this point to the lightweight coaches earlier before we distributed evals for the Oakland trip – it’s one thing for me to say it but at this point, they don’t know me as well as they know the coaches they’re with every single day so hearing them say how much they value doing evals carries a bit more weight than it does if I say it. (Also I’m obviously biased about how important they are so there’s that too.)
A very important caveat
This one needs absolutely no elaboration – if you don’t fill out the evals, you leave excessively vague comments, or you don’t provide any comments/feedback at all, you forfeit your right to complain about or make requests/demands of the coxswains going forward.