Collect the Right Data to Reflect: Insights from high-performing operations leaders

High-performing leaders realize the importance of using data for reflection and improvement. Reflecting on the right data is important across the organization. In educational organizations, we typically reflect on annual student achievement data over the summer, as we plan for the next school year. The collection of data related to critical operations is equally important for the success of the organization, and can also occur at the close of the school year rather than the calendar year. In other professions, an annual cycle of reflection and planning may occur whenever it’s most logical.

To assist operational leaders across sectors, we connected with three high-performing leaders in district operations, Jeffrey Gross (Chief Financial Officer, Kettle Moraine School District, WI), John Stangler (Director of Buildings and Grounds, Pewaukee School District, WI) and Jeremiah Johnson (Director of Operations, Muskego-Norway School District, WI) to find out what data they gather at the end of each school year as they plan to reflect and improve. From these model leaders, we learned:

In your role, what data do you gather in May and June to reflect on the successes and challenges of the year?

All three leaders noted the importance of collecting data, including the following finance, facilities and safety measures:

  • Studer Education District Services Survey Results & Employee Engagement Survey Results
  • Studer Parent and Student Engagement (As it relates to Safety & Cleanliness)
  • Work Orders Completed
  • Work Order Completion Time
  • Facility Use Hours
  • Custodial Overtime
  • Budget to Actual Spending Comparisons
  • Electric Use Per Sq Ft
  • Gas Use Per Sq Ft
  • Energy Efficiency Per School
  • Monthly Safety Drills Completed
  • Cleaning Evaluation Scores

What questions do you ask to reflect on the current year and prepare for the next year?

In response to a budget to actual comparative analysis that Gross conducts, he asks, “Where can we tighten the ‘cushion’ and reallocate funds? Where can we improve on the support we provide to our leadership team?  How can I improve as a leader for my team?” Stangler considers, “Are there any variables that altered my data, such as weather, custodial vacancies, national safety events, or any large changes?” He also uses the data to determine where training needs exist.

Where do you house/gather/record data that you will use to reflect for next year?

All three leaders reported using spreadsheets with tight alignment and connection to annual goal-setting and action plans. Gross maintains a Continuous Improvement file, with a sub-file for Scorecards/Data. Johnson explains that the Buildings and Grounds Team in MNSD has recently started using spreadsheet and dashboard data to benchmark and define comparable Key Performance Indicators across organizations.

The tips and metrics that our high-performing leaders provide here may prompt each of us to ask ourselves, as leaders, “What data do I gather to reflect on the successes and challenges of the year? What questions do I ask to reflect on the current year and prepare for the next year? How do I house/gather/record data that I’ll use to reflect for next year?”  These operations leaders have hardwired processes for gathering data to reflect on each year, and you can, too.

 

Dr. Melissa Matarazzo, Studer Education 

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