Leader Development Newsletter
Last month we hosted our annual national conference, What’s Right in Education, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and showcased the work of our partners in academic, operational and process improvement. The chance to network, learn and laugh with each other created an unforgettable experience. WRiE provides us with the occasion to celebrate “What is Right.”
Pausing to reflect and assess where we are and where we want to go as an organization is a powerful process and core to continuous improvement. Taking the time for deep conversations with our teams and reviewing data to inform our 90-day plans for improvement can lead to collaboration across departments and divisions. This reflection process helps us learn from our wins as well as our challenges.
To make good decisions we need to look at the right data which may not always be quantifiable. The information we gather from our stakeholders helps us know what the people we serve are thinking. It helps us frame the best decision. When we use our data, we make effective actionable decisions. The protocols we use to frame our decision-making provide clarity for what type of input needed from those around the table.
Refining processes is key to the improvement and growth of an organization. Organizations must continuously collect data, identify barriers to improve based on the data, and continuously monitor that data to stay on target and hit goals. To do so, we need the right strategy and structure.
Action planning is the process of clarifying what resources are required to reach the goal, formulating a timeline for when specific tasks need to be completed, and determining who will be responsible for each action toward goal achievement. High-performing leaders, like those featured in this newsletter, take time to work at and refine the action planning process to achieve meaningful results.
High performing organizations with passion-driven leaders and engaged employees understand the importance of having effective communication practices. These practices include performance conversations focused on coaching employees to higher levels of performance. Performance conversations recognize the good work of employees, retain high performing employees, and coach employees to higher levels of success.
Some of the best organizations focus on gaining input from others to learn about areas working well and those needing improvements. The transformation of an organization’s engagement and satisfaction levels begins when leaders involve stakeholders in what we call a results rollout process. Leaders ask for feedback and input to better understand what is working well and the challenges to resolve.
Last month, we described the importance of having intentional conversations with employees at the 30- and 90-day marks. By rounding, we mean asking employees what is working well, what can be improved, who has been helpful, and following up on the feedback gathered. We believe rounding is the most important leadership tactic for creating solid bonds with those entrusted to help us achieve results.
Having 30/90-day conversations with new employees is a practice that should consistently be carried out. These conversations are important for engaging the new hire. They are also valuable for you, as a leader, to gain a new perspective on your organization and make changes to better your organization.
One of our highest priorities is to retain high performing employees and support new employees to achieve at their highest potential. Applying high quality on-boarding experiences for new employees gives us the opportunity to share our purpose and organizational expectations, and to showcase how employees engage with each other to achieve goals.
The top tactic for employee engagement is leader rounding. Rounding allows leaders to recognize and reward success, while informing process needs and improvements. During rounding conversations, leaders are encouraged to ask direct reports:
- What is working well for you?
- Do you have what you need to do your job?
- Is there anything I can do to help you continue to perform well?
- Is there anyone who has been especially helpful to you?
Reward and recognition serve to validate the good work of employees at all levels, as well as encourage repetition of behaviors that make our systems best places to work and learn. As you engage in reflection, with the close of the year, take time to consider how you might systematize reward and recognition.
Our team frequently reminds leaders, “In education, even the way we change has changed.” In the midst of constant change, what remains in education is the desire to have purpose, do worthwhile work, and make a difference in the lives of those they touch.