Tag: change management

Creating a Culture of Belonging

I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference on Creating a Culture of Belonging in my role as a community trustee of The Presidio Hill School in San Francisco. I was excited to be invited as a member of the PHS cohort to attend this very important conference hosted by San Francisco Friends School and Pollyanna. Being a trustee at a school whose mission and vision I believe in as well as whose leader,  Lisa Jeli, is one I believe in is an honor and a privilege. The day was filled with learning, opportunity, moments of heartache, and moments of hope, all met with listening to understand and curiosity. 

Jamil Zaki, author of The War for Kindness, Building Empathy in a Fractured World and an associate professor of psychology at Stanford University was the keynote speaker. He spoke of many critical things related to empathy.

Broadening your Circle of Comfort

Have you ever tried to broaden your circle of comfort?

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Have you ever tried to broaden your circle of comfort? Did it feel risky? Scary? My very wise and thoughtful meditation teacher, Gayathri, recently spoke to our class about this idea of expanding your comfort zone. Somehow, this wording landed much better with me than the usual phrase of saying, ‘Take more risks.’ It felt more expansive and doable. It felt less scary. 

I am a person who generally enjoyed a small comfort zone for most of my life. I like structure, predictability, and daily routines which sometimes led me to have a small comfort zone and in turn, led me to see many things as full of risk. I have had many transitions in my adult life. In these transition times, I am often faced with a decision of whether to expand or contract my comfort zone.

Improvement Plans

Improvement Plans set a path to potential growth.

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Have you considered an improvement plan for an employee? Improvement Plans set a path to potential growth. This is the time of year that independent schools consider whether to offer contracts for employees to return. For high-performing employees, these decisions are quick and easy. For employees that are underperformers, and who have shown consistent signs of underperforming, it might be time to consider an Improvement Plan. An Improvement Plan, sometimes called a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan), makes clear what the person needs to work on in order to stay in their position at the school. It clarifies expectations, spells out goals and timelines, and has an emphasis on growth and support. 

It’s essential that the employee understands they have an opportunity to improve. Avoid making employees feel like they’re being laid off, rather, emphasize their opportunity for growth.

Right Fit AND Right Growth

Are you looking for the right fit candidate for your institution or for the right growth candidate? Or both?

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“No matter how effective your organization’s recruitment tactics are, there’s never a guarantee an employee will live up to expectations – even if they seem to be the perfect cultural fit.

You’ll know you’re on the right track, however, if you see a diverse, unified, and happy set of employees who are motivated to help achieve business objectives.”

-Megan McNeill, The Pros and Cons of Hiring for Cultural Fit

Both Can Be True

Are you looking for the right fit candidate for your institution or for the right growth candidate? Often times in hiring groups, I would hear members discuss a candidate and make comments such as:

‘That person would fit right in with our team.’

‘This candidate is a great fit for our institution.’

‘This candidate can slide right into our group so easily.

What’s In a Question?

Photo by Matt Walsh on Unsplash

A well-formed question can tell a lot about a candidate. “Asking good questions is the path to insightful learning,” wrote Adrian Gonzalez. One of the often overlooked items in a hiring process is the questions we ask candidates. Hiring season is fast approaching in schools. It’s time to prepare. Questions can tell us a lot about a candidate. If you ask the right questions, you can learn a lot about a candidate. Your questions also reveal a lot about your institution. Questions are just one very important data-gathering point of the hiring process. 

Steps to forming questions:

  • Be grounded in your school’s mission and strategic vision. Keep it at the forefront of your mind while forming your questions. Form questions that will grow your community.
  • Think about what qualities, skills, and understandings you are looking for in a candidate. 
  • Create questions that will uncover or gather data around these qualities, skills, and understandings.

Stress: Why Do You Care?

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Are you experiencing stress? Why should you care? It may mean that something or someone you care about is involved. According to Dan Harris in the Ten Percent Happier Stress Better Meditation Challenge Series, stress can be a signal that something matters to you. Professor Modupe Akinola of Columbia University suggests that when you realize you are stressed try to find out why you care. She calls this a ‘reappraisal’ of the stress and states that one way to NOT feel as much stress is to figure out the underlying reason why you care. Rather than focusing on the cause of the stress, focus on why you care about what’s causing the stress.

Here are some steps they suggest from the Ten Percent Happier Stress Better Challenge:

  • Tune in to your feeling of stress: Know when your body feels stressed, be aware of when it is happening, and notice. 

Don’t Rush to the Solution

Don’t rush to the solution. That’s what I keep telling myself when I realize I am in the weeds of an issue.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Recently, I dove into solving what I thought was the problem, only to realize later that I had buried myself into the minutiae of details and was ultimately not making the change that was necessary. I had to stop, pull back, and look at the issue from the 30-foot view to define the actual problem. As Albert Einstein once stated: “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

As a leader, it is vital to keep the long view and the broad view of the systems at play. When leaders take time to reflect, think, and listen, they are more likely to come to a collective decision that can affect lasting and true change.

Exit Interviews

Gathering data from your exiting employees is crucial. Photo by Andrew Teoh on Unsplash

Exit interviews are vital to the growth of your institution and an important part of saying goodbye. Are you doing them? Are you doing them well? Exit interviews are one on one meetings conducted when an employee moves on from your institution. When done well, they are great sources of data. 

Some places may have an HR member discuss benefits with an exiting employee and call that an exit interview. In other places, just let that employee walk away and gather no data at all about their experience. Don’t let this opportunity for growth pass you by. Stop and think about what you can learn from this individual and their experience no matter what reason or what conditions they are leaving under. Another invaluable benefit of conducting exit interviews is that you are providing the exiting employee the opportunity to vent in a safe and productive manner. 

Saying Goodbye

It’s that time of year again in schools, a time for saying goodbye.

Photo by Ioana Cristiana on Unsplash

May and June are filled with transitions: graduations, retirements, faculty and staff movement, and more. The way a community manages transitions matters and reflects upon that community’s mission, vision, and values. How do you say goodbye and why is it important?

“The way we gather matters.” states Priya Parker, the author of The Art of Gathering, How We Meet and Why It Matters. She defines gathering as “the conscious bringing together of people for a reason.” Priya Parker goes on to say that when we gather together, we “exchange information, inspire one another, test out new ways of being together” to name a few outcomes. Nonetheless, we spend very little time intentionally planning and thinking about the ways we gather. 

Gathering to say goodbye is the bringing together of people to honor a person or people as they move on.

Leading with Equanimity

Leading with equanimity can lead to a spacious mind. A February morning in New Jersey.

Do you lead with equanimity? What does equanimity mean to you? When I first heard the phrase ‘lead with equanimity’, I would imagine someone who was standing still in the middle of chaos, someone who did not waver or show emotion, someone who did not react and was ultimately possibly ineffective. To me, this is no longer a true or complete version of leading with equanimity. 

My Early Thoughts

When I first started my journey into leadership, I found that I became easily tightly attached to an idea or plan. I had thought long and hard about how the plan was going to work and stuck to it. Sometimes, I was so attached to the plan or idea that I could not see some pitfalls, unintended consequences, alternative ways to proceed, or necessary course changes. Other times, I found myself so averse to an idea or plan that I could not possibly see a way for it to work.