The key points of yesterday’s Happy School Webinar on this topic.
Happy School Webinars are provided twice each term. They are provided FREE for schools that subscribe to receive Happy School articles. The next webinar ‘Avoiding the 7 Sins of Leading Change’ is on Monday 28 May and is sure to be popular.
Staff morale is important and has a huge impact on school effectiveness. Where morale is low, staff fall into ‘survival’ mode. They’ll just do the minimum they need to do to get by. They are not feeling a sense of accomplishment and success and their work isn’t bringing them much satisfaction. This creates a cycle where they just go through the motions.
Happy staff are more likely to be engaged, to take responsibility and contribute above and beyond the call of duty. Obviously this has an affect on student outcomes.
The number 1 factor in staff morale is leadership. In his great leadership book, “People Follow You”, Jeb Blount describes the impact of poor leadership.
“75% of the workforce feel that their bosses are the most stressful part of their jobs…..Countless studies and workplace surveys provide empirical evidence that how employees feel about their managers is a better predictor of long-term retention, satisfaction and performance than any other factor.”
Honestly reflecting and answering the following key questions is essential
Does my staff trust me and is staff morale an issue in my school?
Because leadership is so complex, there isn’t a magic wand for boosting staff morale. However it isn’t rocket science either. Consistently reflecting and refining our skills in the following 5 areas will gradually build staff morale – how quickly staff morale improves will depend on how deep down the hole you are and how consistently you deliver in these five areas!
You need your people more than they need you. Another way of saying this is that you get paid for what your people do, not for what you do. As a leader, if your team succeeds, you succeed. If your team fails, you fail. The leaders job is to help their people succeed. We must create environments in which our staff can develop their skills and leverage their talents to WIN. Our job as a leader is to remove roadblocks so they can get their job done.
During the webinar we discussed a number of strategies for showing our appreciation and affirming the good things that our staff are already doing.
91% of teachers believe that the best teachers don’t receive the recognition
92% of teachers reported that if they improved an aspect of their teaching, nobody would know
Almost all teachers want to do a good job and are committed to continuous improvement. Often teachers reflect and think,“If I just changed this activity, the lesson would have been better”, teachers can be their own toughest critic. Recognition, appreciation and affirmation from school leaders is essential. Feedback is essential. Our appreciation and feedback need to be specific. We need to specifically identify behaviours we want to encourage as well as areas for refinement.
It is also important that we acknowledge the challenges that staff are facing and recognise the progress as it is made.
Getting the balance right in our communication with staff is essential. If we don’t provide enough information and aren’t transparent enough with our staff they will fill the void. Conspiracy theories, suspicion and mistrust tend to prevail in these situations.
If we over-communicate and provide TOO much detail we waste valuable time and energy. This is seen as not valuing them by “wasting our time with pointless meetings”.
It is essential that we communicate effectively, using the most appropriate format. Meetings are important opportunities but aren’t ALWAYS the best way.
Emails have their advantages but can also create unrealistic expectations and an avalanche of unnecessary emails too. The tone of an email can also be misinterpreted. Just because you pressed send doesn’t mean they understand.
It is essential that we monitor our communication strategies to ensure they are both effective and efficient.
During the webinar we discussed a number of other communication issues to be aware of. If you’d like to watch the webinar, send me an email and I’ll send you the link.
Leading change processes is one of the key responsibilities of school leaders. One of the key aspects of leadership is the ability to prioritise the number of change initiatives and maintain focus. Schools are faced with a tsunami of change. Being an effective gate-keeper is a key leadership attribute. We’re all busy but sometimes we can be busy doing the wrong things.
The following five strategies are essential for maintaining staff morale in times of change:-
- Filter down competing priorities and only focus on a VERY limited number of initiatives at one time
- Clearly communicating the INTENT behind the change initiative
- Check your expectations are reasonable – one of the 7 Sins of Change leadership is thinking that announcing a change is the same as implementing a change.
- Set realistic timelines
- Monitor progress and celebrate milestones
We will unpack these strategies further in the next Happy School Webinar “Avoiding the 7 Sins of Change Leadership”.
Schools are people places. The relationship between employee and school leader is the pivot point on which most of the school’s success rests. The best leaders are the best relationship builders.
“Leadership begins when people choose to FOLLOW YOU for their reasons, not yours.”
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
People don’t care how busy YOU are, they care about how busy THEY are.
It is important that we connect with our staff and recognise that they are essential to our school’s success. One of the ways that we can do this is to cut people some slack – show that you are human and take every opportunity to cut staff some slack eg cover a class for them. Stephen Covey in Seven Habits of Effective People talks about creating an ‘emotional bank account’ in which you give before you get.
Leaders ARE the role models. It is essential that as leaders we recognise that we choose our attitude. It’s the most important decision you make every day. You can choose to be upbeat and confident that you are achieving satisfaction because you are making a difference OR you can be negative, busy in your office, overloaded and a victim. The decision you make will be visible in your behavior.
Whilst there will be events that happen beyond our control, how we react to these events is almost always within our control.
The leaders job is to help their staff to be the best they can be. We must create environments in which our staff can develop their skills and leverage their talents to be the best teacher they can be. We need to remove roadblocks so they can get their job done. This includes supporting staff to manage disruptive students and difficult parents.
Like great doctors, great teachers need continuous, high quality training to keep abreast of the latest developments in pedagogy. We should differentiate the professional development that we provide – “just in time, just what I need” – not “one size fits all”
Staff morale is ONE OF THE KEYS TO SCHOOL EFFECTIVENESS
Successfully and consistently addressing each of these 5 strategies is essential to helping staff achieve satisfaction from their work and therefore fully engage in achieving maximum student outcomes.
Parents are increasingly demanding and they need your help!
More than ever parents are turning to schools for advice, information and direction about howto raise their kids. Yet their issues are increasingly complex, demanding specific advice which is often beyond the expertise of teachers and principals. Parenting Ideas by Michael Grose has the experience, expertise and resources to help you rise to the challenge of supporting, managing and engaging today’s parents.
How can Parenting Ideas by Michael Grose help?
Become a member of our Michael Grose’s Parenting Ideas school community and you’ll get access to all the resources and help you need to turn your school into Parenting Support Central. Two levels of membership are offered. The first level includes newsletter templates to share with your parents and the second level adds monthly 10 minute relationship builder professional development activities to start your staff or level meetings. Click here to find out more
As a SPECIAL OFFER to Happy School subscribers Michael is offering FREE administration & set-up fee valued at $110. Just mention Happy School when registering.
Happy School Staff articles this month include…
Twilight Professional Development
Changes to the Pupil Free Days have led to many requests for Twilight professional development sessions for staff. The following programs are offered as 1.5 to 2 hour after school sessions. The investment in professional development for each session is $1500 + gst + travel (this includes all resources and materials).
Email to check availability of your preferred date.
Which topic does your team need most?
7 Secrets of Motivating and Engaging Students
(PS…they work for the teachers too!!)
Motivating and engaging students can be challenging. Many students have short concentration spans, are disinterested and disengaged from learning. Teaching is more demanding than ever before! Traditional carrot and stick approaches have limited effect. Ultimately we can’t MAKE anybody DO something. In this session I’ll share the 7 secrets that teachers must implement to motivate and engage their students. All teachers can implement these practical, well-grounded strategies to improve their students’ attitude.
Building Trust – Essential Skills
Trust is at the heart of all relationships. Trust impacts on us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It impacts on the quality of every relationship, every communication, every workplace and every organisation. Building Trust is vital! Stephen Covey’s 13 behaviours that build trust are simple, straight forward and immediately transferable to schools. They apply at all levels. Having good intentions is not enough. It is behaviour that counts!
The one constant in the world today is change! Ultimately our response to change is dependent on our attitude AND we CHOOSE our attitude.Our people need to be positive, optimistic and energetic. In this session I’ll help staff in schools to develop the right attitude. I identify the three biggest obstacles to successful change and the specific strategies needed to overcome these challenges. A positive attitude is essential to success.
Increasing WORK-LIFE Satisfaction
Working in schools can be challenging. A happy staff achieves better results. It is vital that staff in schools get satisfaction from the important work we do. Thinking of our happiness in terms of ‘balance’ leads us to think that we have to ‘balance out’ the time or energy that we spend at work with the time and energy we put into the rest of our lives. This adds to our stress! We need to get satisfaction from both our work and the rest of our lives. It is essential that we focus on what is REALLY important in our lives. This IS your REAL life – it isn’t a dress rehearsal.
Gr8 People are Part of Gr8 Teams
There are 10 vital attributes that are necessary in all teams within schools. For a team to reach their potential each individual needs to make their contribution and that contribution needs to be aligned with the school’s direction and priorities. The better that people work together and are aligned, the better outcomes the school will achieve.
Which of the attributes do your teams do well and which ones need to be improved? Establishing clear and agreed priorities, in simple language is essential.
Feedback – Helping Teachers Be the Best They Can Be
School audits highlighted the need for many schools to establish processes for providing feedback to teachers as a vital aspect of improved performance in schools. However giving teacher’s feedback is not part of the culture in most schools. In this session we look at why feedback is so important, consider a range of options and develop an action plan for establishing a feedback culture.
Conferences and Work With Schools
In coming months I’m looking forward to working with…
- Metropolitan Early Years’ Conference
- School leadership teams in a number of schools including Wynnum Manly cluster and St Rita’s
- School staff at Morningside State Schools and Mater Children’s Hospital
- QASSP members for full day programs on Establishing A Feedback Culture
- Qld Assn of State School Principals’ State Conference
If you’d like me to present at your conference or work with your staff, email me email@example.com