In Effective Communication

In education, we administer engagement surveys to employees to measure how successful leaders are at providing an environment that allows employees to reach their highest potential. We find that leaders generally have the most difficulty working through this type of feedback. At times, it’s downright emotional. It is important for leaders to communicate survey feedback to their employees and share action plans, if they want to lead a high-performing organization.

Our job is to help leaders celebrate the wins and to carefully review the results to determine areas for improvement. Leadership training and skill development will build the skills leaders need, but there’s also another dimension to consider: consistency in executing those skills.

Here’s an example of a school leader who not only modeled new behaviors, but worked hard with her team to gather data and then used the results to improve. Ms. Underwood is the principal of Pepperhill Elementary School in Charleston, South Carolina. Both the employee engagement and parent satisfaction surveys are administered in her school district.

From day one, Ms. Underwood’s school had the highest number of responses for both surveys, with almost 100 percent returned from parents. She also leads the district with some of the best results on those surveys.

What makes these such notable accomplishments is that her school is located in North Charleston, an area that struggles with poverty and changing demographics, including higher populations of students who are learning English as a second language. Yet despite these challenges, at no time has Ms. Underwood been out of compliance with the principles we teach—and never have we witnessed or heard of her making excuses. She sees her job as serving teachers, staff, students, and parents—and she does it all cheerfully and well. At a principal training session, we recognized Ms. Underwood’s accomplishments to her peers and the senior leadership of the district.

The way Ms. Underwood and other successful school leaders communicate survey feedback and change influences how their colleagues work through the feedback, especially when there are suggestions for improvement. Accountable leadership relies on executing strategic actions consistently and effectively. The essence of leadership is creating a work environment in which people are inspired to work together to achieve a common goal. A primary responsibility of all education leaders is to build and guide teams to achieve defined goals that lead to high levels of student achievement and success.



Maximize Performance: Creating a Culture for Educational Excellence by Quint Studer and Janet Pilcher will help education leaders engage in systematic reviews to diagnose, apply, assess, and validate the execution of strategies across school, department, and school system levels. Learn more about Maximize Performance at Follow the authors on Twitter using @quint_studer and @janetpilcher.


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