When onboarding new employees, the best leaders create a system-wide vision aligned to organizational values, clearly set and communicate a direction for people to go, and align behaviors to priorities. It is vital to set the standard right away, but it is even more important to reinforce continuously and reflect on these standards and values.
At Ysleta Independent School District (YISD) in El Paso, Texas, school leaders not only engage in these best practices for onboarding new employees, they make onboarding an ongoing process throughout the school year.
YISD leaders use what they call Guiding Tenets as a cultural guide for all employees to follow. This provides both new employees and long-standing employees with the opportunity to reset and reflect on the values and beliefs of the district. It reminds everyone of the culture of the district, which emphasizes care for one another.
Associate Superintendent, Brenda Chacon, explains how these Guiding Tenets work to reinforce the culture of the district:
“We use the Guiding Tenets to embed those behaviors and habits in which we believe, in order to be an effective organization. They are our core—what all of us should practice and do every day to make sure we are meeting the outcomes needed for student success.”
Throughout the year, the district’s leadership team works to embed continuously these Guiding Tenets. They have “Guiding Tenets Awards” each month where someone who has demonstrated a particular tenet is recognized for their commitment to district values.
“We recognize all sorts of people from schools and departments who show a little bit of extra effort in demonstrating each tenet.”
YISD even has a Guiding Tenets book study each month. A designated team member presents a certain chapter of a book and then ties that chapter to the Guiding Tenets.
“It’s a whole year process to constantly remind us how we need to behave and act every day.”
As a result of this continuous connection to the values of the district throughout the year, the district has seen an increase in each of their surveys—from the Employee Engagement to the District Services to the Parent Satisfaction.
“We are excited about our survey results. We want to think those leadership behaviors are translating into our schools. Our community and stakeholders are able to exhibit those behaviors, which is how the increases in our surveys came to be.”
These guiding tenets are comprised of seven model attributes that include respect, innovation, stewardship, accountability, consistency, integrity, and collaboration. Each attribute has a specific purpose aligned to the mission and goals of the district.
Respect: Offer those you serve the opportunity to perform at their highest levels.
Innovation: Consistently look for better ways to grow and change.
Stewardship: Own our actions as good stewards of resources.
Accountability: Hold ourselves and others accountable for supporting students and families.
Consistency: Engage in transparent and aligned communication practices for the good of the system.
Integrity: Trust that people do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way.
Collaboration: Make a personal choice to engage with others in a positive way; work toward solutions with a team approach.
How do you initially set the standards within your school district for employees? How do you then reinforce these standards throughout the year? We encourage you to reflect on practices you can implement to ensure employees are continuously connecting and aligning to district goals and values.
Dr. Robin Largue, Studer Education℠