Ouch! That hurts! But I know it is true.
The Principal has the greatest influence on staff morale. If your staff opinion survey indicates that staff morale is not good, it’s time to take stock, take ownership and take action. Stay with me and resist the temptation to get defensive.
Last week I received a two page long, email rant – you know the type, you probably receive at least one each month. This one was from a hard working teacher who was exhausted at the end of term. The keyboard has taken a beating as this stressed teacher vented their anger and frustration and thumped out each letter with passion and vigour.
The criticism aimed at me was that I dared suggest that teachers not coping seek professional help ‘during the holidays’. The correspondent expressed her belief that there is something wrong with our profession if people need professional help. She believed that if such support was required, it should be during term time.
The not so veiled criticism in her email wasn’t aimed at me but at her Principal. The teacher was upset that her Principal presumed that providing a weekly Happy School article was sufficient to appease frustrated and over-worked staff. They acknowledged that occasional tips in the Happy School articles helped with some of the challenges they faced but resented that sharing the articles was “all their Principal did!”
Their suggestions for their Principal to….”actually get to know your staff and care about their well-being, be seen in the staffroom on a regular basis, drop into a class occasionally, make yourself available, cut staff some slack at busy times and cancel that pointless staff meeting, don’t go overseas to a conference (paid for with school funds) when your staff are battling to keep their heads above water, do more than just say you recognise the hard work of teachers,“ are all worthwhile and I’d encourage you to take them on-board.
Staff engagement and motivation guru Ian Hutchinson in his great book , “People Glue” notes that,
“Organisational culture is personified by its leaders’ behaviours, internal communications, what the organisation celebrates and how it recognises its people for their achievements.”
Hutchinson goes on to highlight that, “Inspiring leadership keeps people informed and appreciated.”
This week the leadership team at Milton State School in Brisbane walked the talk. They held a free, end of term raffle for staff. They had a great array of prizes in the draw (most of them donated by local businesses or school families who had businesses eg Grill’d vouchers, movie tickets and bottles of wine). However the most keenly sort prizes were vouchers from the Principal and Deputy Principal volunteering to take the winner’s class for the day.
What a great, fun, low cost initiative that led to some great humour. Not only were the leaders willing to share the load and acknowledge the demands of teaching, they also walked the talk.
We are after all in the PEOPLE BUSINESS. Showing appreciating and support for our people doesn’t have to be a big event. A personal conversation or message of appreciation can make all the difference.
The first steps to improving in any area are the three A’s. First you must become AWARE of the issue through seeking some information about the issue or concern.
Then you must ACCEPT that the information is true and the concern is real.
Before finally you will be ready to take ACTION to improve in that area.
What do you do to support your people and have a little fun at school? I’d love to hear your strategies!
How Is Your Staff Morale?
The fastest way to improve your school and boost staff satisfaction is to identify and address the problems that annoy and frustrate people. SurveyMySchool has been specifically designed to support the leadership team to IMPROVE schools. The interactive format of the surveys identifies specific issues and potential solutions.
SurveyMySchool is far more useful than school opinion surveys that only provides data. Whilst having data is a good start, data alone can be misinterpreted and isn’t helpful in addressing people’s specific concerns.
SurveyMySchool is interactive. Respondents who express dissatisfaction with an aspect of the school are asked clarifying questions to provide further detail about their specific concern and potential solutions. The survey report provides useful information to inform school planning, improve the school and increase the satisfaction of staff.
Contact us to set up a survey of staff, parents and/or students.
This Month’s Happy School articles include:
- Focus on the White Square – Part 2
- Mastering the Art of Active Listening
- 8 Tips for Reaching Out to Parents
- Overcoming a set back
Subscribe now and join the 500 schools who are already boosting staff morale and reducing teacher stress as members of Happy School. Reply to this email and ask us to set up your membership. It costs less than ONE supply teacher day!
Conferences and Work With Schools
This month I’m looking forward to working with:-
- Catholic Secondary Principals at their National Conference in Darwin
- Education Queensland Aspiring Leaders’ program
- Moranbah Schools
- Wesley Hospital Nurse Leaders
- Downs Syndrome Assn State Conference
- Cronulla School Principals’ cluster
- School Leaders’ breakfast series
- SBMAQ webinars
- QASSP webinars
I’d be happy to talk with you about the professional development needs of your leadership team or whole staff.
Professional Learning From Steve Francis
We are all aware that PEOPLE make the difference in schools. Therefore investing in your people brings the best returns. Professional development sessions for your staff are available on a range of topics. These are ideal for student free days or twilight sessions. Email to check availability of your preferred date and book now.
Which topic does your team need most?
- Effective Teamwork in School
- Building Trust – Essential Skills
- Thriving in Times of Change
- Feedback – Helping Teachers Be the Best They Can Be
- Boosting Morale and Increasing WORK-LIFE Satisfaction
- 7 Secrets to Motivating and Engaging Students
If you’d like me to present at your conference or work with your staff, email me firstname.lastname@example.org