Try this tip: Share clear expectations.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a great, self-reflective discussion with the Cabinet and Lead Principals of the Chippewa Falls Area School District (WI). After reviewing results from a Studer Education  Straight A Leadership Assessment and a Baldrige Quality Self-Assessment, we analyzed why different district leaders perceived their responsibilities, employees’ engagement, parents’ satisfaction, and the overall success of the district differently. One theme that arose was the importance of sharing clear expectations — amongst each other and  all district employees. By engaging in a strategic planning process that will produce a small number of measurable goals that clearly define success, Chippewa Falls employees will gain increased awareness of what’s expected and will be able to celebrate success with pride.

If you think your district’s goals and expectations are clear, consider how the clarity of any message disintegrates as it travels from person to person, like in that old “telephone” game. To check if you are following this tip, ask yourself:

  • What are our annual goals, and how will we measure our success at achieving them? How will our leaders know if we’ve achieved our goals? How will our teachers know? Goals inform everyone what we are measuring, and therefore, what’s important and expected.
  • What are the few, key strategies we will implement this year to achieve our goals? Key strategic actions should be limited in number, identifiable throughout the organization, and aligned to achieving the goals.
  • What will effective implementation of our strategies look like in our school or district? What should we see leaders doing? What should we see teachers doing? What should we see students doing? Clear expectations for what the strategies look like in practice enable everyone to work towards effective execution.
  • How will we know if we are trending towards our goals throughout the year? How will leaders know? How will teachers know?  Pre-identifying progress monitoring measures provides everyone with the opportunity to “check-in” on progress and revise ineffective actions before the year’s end.

Once you’ve answered these questions, cascade your responses  throughout the district. Use all of your communication channels to share clear expectations and empower district staff to work towards your shared goals with greater energy and effectiveness.

Questions were adapted from the book How to Lead Teachers to Become Great, by Dr. Pilcher and Dr. Largue, where Principle 1 (of the book’s 5 principles) is When Teachers Know What to Expect They Perform. In addition, I integrated Studer Group’s Principle 2: Measure the Important Things, which is discussed in detail in the book Hardwiring Excellence, by Quint Studer.

Interested in learning  strategies for setting and sharing clear expectations? Contact us for more information about our coaching for continuous leadership development and systems improvement. Register now for a complimentary 1-day learning session with our partners in Chicago, August 6th., at #WRIE: What’s Right in Education. 



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