Tag: change management

Slow Down and Do More

Slow down and do more.

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR on Unsplash

Slow down and do more. You might think these two things don’t belong together. How do you work slower and do more? Would that work? I think so! 

As a younger parent working full time, I felt like I had to be rushing around all the time. I was often trying to do more than one thing at a time. Of course, now we all know there is no such thing as multitasking. Rather, you are just switching from one task to another and ultimately not doing any of it very well or faster. 

The first time I practiced mindfulness, I was trying to focus on one task with all my senses. I decided to focus on scrambling my eggs in the morning before work. I used all my senses and scrambled the eggs. Normally, I would try to check emails, make lunch, or something else on my to-do list while I made breakfast.

Standing Steady Between Praise or Blame

“When we find our center and our balance in the midst of these opposites…. we can find our ease and our freedom in the midst of these changing winds.”-Gayathri Narayanan

Photo by Jean-Pierre Brungs on Unsplash

What does standing steady between praise and blame mean to you? How do you respond to praise and blame? Do you crave and seek out praise? Do you resist, ignore, or avoid blame? As an educator and a school leader, I was told to develop a ‘thick skin’ or ‘armor’ when blame and negative comments came my way. Alternatively, I was told to soak in all the praise when it came my way. I was not standing steady between praise and blame. I was being pulled from one end to another, placing my value and worth on other people’s opinions. I have realized that may not be the way to go and there are other options.

Pay Attention to Failure

What is failure telling you?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

What if we pay attention to failure, really think about what it is trying to teach us, and make future decisions based on our past failures? We can approach failure in many ways. We can decide to ignore our failures and move along. We can feel shame about them and not address them. There are so many ways to deal with failure. We could think about each failure and wonder what it can teach us. What is a failure trying to tell you? As my yoga teacher would say…Falling out of a position is an invitation to try again. That is how I am trying to embrace failure nowadays. Failure is an invitation to get back in and learn from it.

When I was just out of college, I moved to New York City and started my job search. I went on job interview after interview in the NYC publishing world.

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.

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

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?

Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

“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.