Onboarding our new staff – Getting the 3Cs right: culture, conventions and connections #onboardNBCS

OnboardWhat happens when I step onboard a plane?

Well, I’m about to *start an adventure. I’m going someplace with a bunch of other people. *There is a team of helpful people on hand to get me where I need to go and help me along the way. I may (or may not) engage with my fellow passengers. I need to understand the conventions and protocols of being on the plane, for my own safety. I know that there is a captain in charge. Once I am onboard, I am both excited and I am literally an ‘insider’.

(*Indulge me with this metaphor)

We are about to start a new school year. That means there are new staff.

How do you ensure that new staff are ready for the year ahead? How do you get them onboard. The term “Induction” feels like something that is done to you, while onboarding is embarking on an adventure with a crew of people for the duration of the journey.

This article from Inc How to build an onboarding plan for a new hire was written a number of years ago. This term that has been used in business for quite a while. There is immense cost in the loss of staff and recruitment of new staff that can be minimised by a well thought through onboarding program.

It is as much about getting your new teacher or admin staff member ready for their role as it is about ensuring that you attract the right person to fill the role in the first place. There should hopefully be no surprises on either side.

Educators have little choice but to hit the ground running. Many sectors, have the luxury of easing in new staff, providing a week’s worth of induction. Teachers start with their students fairly quickly, they meet parents from the outset and need to be able to employ a suite of skills ranging from teaching the curriculum, managing student behaviour to knowing where the toilets are, whilst simultaneously learning the culture of the new work environment. It’s a big ask.

As a result the precious time that is available for preparing new staff needs to strategically address the propriety areas for Day 1, Week 1 and Term 1 and then implement an ongoing program to support the other learning that needs to happen, the things that are less critical at the start.

At NBCS in 2015 we have embraced the concept of onboarding our new staff. The purpose of the program is to:

  • help new staff to feel like an ‘insider’ as soon as possible
  • become intuitive about the culture and expectations
  • feed and maintain excitement about their new job at their new school
  • feel part of the team

There is much that a new employee needs to know. However, bombarding them with information on the first day isn’t the optimal scenario, just like the business of learning we need to unpack, prioritise and strategise, focusing on the learner. We also need to model culture at every opportunity.

At NBCS we have applied the design thinking process to the day, starting with the driving question for the new staff member: Where do I fit and how do I contribute?

The first stage of the process over two days, is an active learning program with the Senior Leadership Team. There is no other higher priority for the SLT than to serve and build relationship with the newest member of staff. The program will focus on 3Cs:

Culture: Begin to gain an understanding of “the way we do things around here”.

Conventions: Know the important information that will ensure their safety and the safety of the community

Connections: Build relationships with their team and leaders that will set them up for a win.

We will be using #onboardNBCS to share the fun. I’ll keep you posted!

@anneknock

A community of peace: It depends on me #Ichoosepeace

Slide1Hardly a day goes by when we don’t see peace shattered, either on a global level or a local level. Why do we pursue peace? What is the point of upholding peace as a virtue?

At this time of the year the word ‘Peace’ has front of stage. It’s on Christmas cards, street signs and sung in carols. This is because the prophet Isaiah heralded the arrival of Jesus as the ‘Prince of Peace’.

Peace: (n) freedom from disturbance; tranquillity; a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended

During Christmas and the New Year period many of us reflect on the past 12 months and anticipate the year ahead. My thoughts this year are turning to the idea of peace, what it means to be ‘at peace’. 

I have decided that peace can be a mindset amidst chaos, unrest and normal everyday life. When our children were small with screaming toddlers and defiant tantrums, there could be peace in the craziness. At a global level, after the unrest has subsided the ‘peace keepers’ are sent in. They monitor the peace processes and implement peace agreements. As 17thC Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza famously said,  “Peace isn’t the absence of war… it is a state of mind.”

I choose peace.

In the past week, in my city, Sydney, in my nation, Australia and as a global citizen, peace has been shattered by events of unthinkable horror. We grieve, mourn and pay tribute to those who are directly impacted, and for those of us as observers, we find it difficult to reconcile and often maintain peace.

But if we think deeply about this, lasting peace is the result of a decision of many, rather than a decree of one. It does not operate in a context of fear. It does take brave people to make a stand. As a community we can decide to strive for, maintain and keep peace.

Immediately after the #SydneySiege many in our community sought peace. One person’s warped religious worldview was not going to turn a community against the entire Muslim faith and the #illridewithyou movement arose. Many people decided to be peacekeepers when they could have opted for war.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  Holocaust survivor and philosopher, Viktor Frankl

As much as the micro level, we can be peacekeepers in our communities. It doesn’t mean being a doormat for the ‘sake of peace’. But it may involve taking a stand, in a respectful way, there may even need to be a battle before peace can be achieved. The essence of it is to consider the community as a whole, before my rights as an individual. 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (from the letter of St Paul to the Roman church in 60AD)

As I enter 2015, this will be my North Star. There is an individual response to peace, that can collectively make a significant difference.

@anneknock

Back in the game: My new rules for social media engagement #itsnotallaboutme

“No leader can afford to lead as they did in the Industrial Age. This is a new era with new rules. All around us, the entire world is flattening, democratising, and socialising.” (HBR)

I’ve been relatively quiet on social media over the last few months. Sometimes it’s good to reassess and rethink what we do and why we do it. We are told, “You need to get onto Twitter”. Why? There needs to be purpose.

  • Am I there just so my followers don’t forget me?
  • What popularity need am I trying to satisfy?
  • Do I think that I will be professionally dead if I don’t engage?
  • Is there a real purpose that is more than increasing my follower count?

I prefer to be purposeful. Make choices that make a difference.

I thought this article on the HBR blog was interesting: 7 attributes of CEO’s who get social media. As education leaders*, we can borrow ideas, be inspired and challenged by business articles. (*I consider anyone a leader who has and wants to influence for good, no matter what role or title they have)

Coine and Babbet identified the top seven traits observed over five years trend-watching and interviewing leaders. I’ve just reimagined them for educators, and non-profits.

1. An Insatiable Curiosity: Social leaders track the emerging trends. They also see what non-educators are saying that can both inspire and challenge thinking.

2. A DIY mindset: This personal curiosity sees the social leader find out for him or herself. Rather than listen through filters seek the raw information.

3. A bias for action: They live by a “ready, fire, aim” mentality and in the Social Age, this has never been more necessary. Engaging in debates and discussions in real time can add so much value.

4. Relentless givers: They constantly share what they know. Seeking to spread knowledge and learnings more broadly. Again, this has nothing to do with building social-media market share, but it is just the right thing to do.

5. Connect instead of promote: Social media self-promotion is a turn-off. It’s more important to build relationships and connection through genuine engagement on social media platforms.

6. My organisation’s #1 brand ambassador:  We are all building our personal brand through social media, but we can do it in such a way that is authentic and generous, which in turn will positively impact our organisation.

7. Lead with an OPEN mindset: “…short for Ordinary People, Extraordinary Network – means that no one person, even the highest-level leader, can have all the answers”. We develop collaborative relationships with people who are willing to help us discover the answers.

Here are some questions that I challenge myself about social media:

  1. Do I retweet (or blog) to highlight a new voice or idea,
    or is it to show how popular I am?
  2. Do I follow people who are not directly related to my field?
  3. Am I generous? Do I connect people and encourage others?
  4. How curious am I?
  5. Do I only follow those points of view that agree with my own?
  6. How has my social media experience grown and changed me (for the better)?
  7. Does my followers’ perception of me directly impact their perception of my school?
  8. How OPEN am I?

I’m back in the game. Hopefully living by my new rules. You’ll let me know otherwise, won’t you.

@anneknock

A very personal reflection on faith in the richness of community: Freedom of – not from – religion

Ref: McCrindle Research

There is a debate in Australia about Christian influence in schools, as recipients of public funds.

Many see faith represented across society as a relic of the past. As a Christian I live my faith in everyday life and I am unable to separate who I am and what I do from what I believe.

 

 

 

Track back 40-50 years and our society was the product of a very different world. Those who led our nation on either side of the political divide were usually supportive of the Judeo-Christian values, and it was often politically prudent to do so.  People went to church because it was the expectation, and if they didn’t go themselves, they sent their kids to Sunday School to get some of that old-time religion, or a good chance for a lie-in.

In the same way, scripture classes, or religious instruction in school was seen as a way to promote and reinforce Christian values. Local ministers, priests and (usually) older ladies would come to school every Friday morning. We would all be distributed according to our particular ‘flavour’ – Catholics and Church of England usually had the most, Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational. I went to the Baptist scripture because my parents said so.

Sadly, while I was enjoying a happy family and being part of a faith community, there were many young people abused at the hands of those who claimed to represent the church. I fully appreciate that my experience is not the reality for so many.

However, I am no less enthusiastic about my faith today, and I believe that the Christian message remains as relevant and life-changing as ever. But how I express and share my faith needs to be equally as relevant.

“Express and share”McCrindle Research

Why don’t Christians just keep to themselves?

This is the real issue, isn’t it?

 
It’s interesting, that as a ‘brand’ Jesus Christ rates fairly well, and the church, not so. We read in the Bible that Jesus cared about people, he helped them and he championed the cause of the marginalised. He was active and not passive in helping people. As a Christian, literally ‘Christ follower’, I seek to show the love and compassion of Jesus, to speak for the voiceless and to work for justice.

Many of us today, reflect our faith very simply, love God and love people. We acknowledge that we are on earth for purpose beyond ourselves. The essence of the Christian faith is that Jesus is God’s son, who came to earth to provide a way to God. Jesus demonstrated God’s love and his teachings form the foundations of our society. Jesus’ death and resurrection provided the way for me to have a personal relationship with God.

So… Why don’t Christians just keep to themselves?

Because we follow the teachings of Jesus:

Go into the whole world

Teach others about me

Make disciples

I’m not a theologian, just a lifelong follower of Jesus Christ. I can’t just take the parts of Jesus’ teachings that I like and ignore what doesn’t suit me. On the other hand, I also want to ensure that I am real, that I am relevant to the 21stC and understand the cultural mores of the times. I believe I have a life worth living, and if what I have can help another person, then I am happy to share my faith.

For centuries churches were the heart of the community, the place where families gathered. In many ways this is what schools have become. Parents have the responsibility to guide their children according to the values they hold so the place of faith in schools needs to be something that is discussed. It is a timely and my hope is that faith remains in the dialogue, as this adds to the richness of community.

The basic value is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Faith is a mystery. I don’t have the answers to many of the great problems people face, I’m definitely not perfect, but I have the confidence that my life has hope and purpose, that there is a God in heaven who loves me and I couldn’t live my life any other way.

@anneknock

Change Agents are Leaders: The four transitions toward culture change in your school

Change, culture and leadership are concepts that are inseparable.

Achieving the desired culture for your team or school requires a process of change, and leadership is essential to make this happen. In my last post I encouraged you to consider leading change and taking on the role of  a change agent wherever you are in your school, organisation, or even your family.

What makes you a leader is that there is an idea or a vision for the future that you cannot shake, and you are compelled to do something about it. This idea will make life better for someone and your mantra needs to be “if not me, then who?”

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Transitions are the phases we work through on the way to changing culture. If  we can simplify this process, then change can be more achievable. It doesn’t mean that change is necessarily as quick and as simple as we would like it to be, but a clear process can help to track progress.

As I have thought about this, played around with ideas and read about culture change, I have identified four transitions to change culture. The change process begins inside, and then as it reaches a critical mass of people, culture change occurs.Four transitions

1. Building Knowledge

2. Shifting Mindsets

3. Forming New Habits

4. Changing Culture

How can you grow a culture of collaboration in your school?

1. Building KnowledgeBuilding knowledge

Many people facing change want to know the facts. What does research tell us? Are there case studies we can draw from? What are the pros and cons? Providing the right conditions, the fertile ground of knowledge and information is the first step. This includes preempting questions and concerns and having some answers ready will help facilitate this process.

 

2. Shifting MindsetsShifting midsets

At some point during the Building Knowledge phase, the seed of a changing mindset will start to germinate. This is when we begin to have a change in attitude. There is a lot of pondering and thinking through what the vision will look like in reality.

 

 

 

3. Forming New HabitsForming new habits

As mindsets and attitudes change, the seed has taken root, the plant starts to rise above the surface and changing behaviour is evident. This behaviour shows new habits that are consistent with the vision and the desired culture.

 

 

 

4. Changing CultureChanging Culture

When there is a critical mass of changed behaviour, then the new culture can flourish. It’s not just one plant above the surface, but a landscaped garden begins to emerge.

 

 

 

Organisations everywhere are struggling to keep up with the pace of change – let alone get ahead of it.* This process is both continual and parallel. As leaders we need to accept the complexity and rate of change, because… If not you, then who?

@anneknock

*Accelerate, John P. Kotter, 2014

Charting a course for change: Is your culture the elephant in the room? (and other mixed metaphors)

Peter Drucker once famously said,  “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Culture: the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society

How would you describe your school or organisation’s culture?

Positive, vibrant and exciting?

Demoralised, weary and fearful?

Or somewhere in between?

Leaders are in the process of continuous change, taking people on a journey.  As the leader you may have an inspiring strategic plan, clearly articulated mission and vision statements, and effective systems and processes in place, but unless the culture is assessed and addressed, these grand plans will come to nothing, by “breakfast”.

Your culture is the most powerful factor in change, it determines:

  • speed of change
  • receptivity for change
  • health of your people
  • impact of your vision and mission
  • effectiveness and influence in the long term

What’s floating your boat?

Sydney to HobartOne of my favourite places over summer is Nielsen Park on the harbour in Sydney. It is the vantage point for the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in December each year and I find it fascinating to watch the boats jostle for position, maintain speed and agility until the siren starts the race.

What does sailing and culture have in common?

Your boat

There is an interconnection between each of these elements but the hull is what makes it a boat, and in the same way, it’s the culture that makes or breaks any organisation. None is culture-free. Without the hull, the other parts become the accessories.

Is this still a boat?

Dr Samuel Chand* identifies the types of cultures that define an organisation and impact the ability to progress.

How would you describe your culture?

Inspiring: Sleek, fast, regatta-winning boat with prevailing winds

Accepting: Potential to do well in the regatta.

Stagnant: Becalmed and not going anywhere

Discouraging: Not a very well-maintained boat

Toxic: The boat may look really good on the outside, but is not seaworthy and actually dangerous

What do you need to do?

If Drucker’s famous statement is true, then a leader cannot ignore the prevailing culture, despite how exciting and innovative the vision and mission may be.

The place to start is under the waterline – building an environment of trust, respect and authenticity.

@anneknock

*Ref: Dr Samual Chand, Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration

What does it really mean to have a culture of leadership at your school? It’s just like yoghurt.

Culture is the result of the fermentation process that gives yoghurt its unique texture and flavour. We can’t actually identify this elusive element called ‘culture’, it is just  there, otherwise it wouldn’t be yoghurt. The added fruit or flavourings may enhance, but they aren’t what make it yoghurt.

In the same way, a culture of leadership is something that runs through a school or organisation. It is evident in its “texture and flavour”. Leadership can be added like the  fruit, but it is more effective when it forms part of the whole product.

Blanchard quoteIn the last decade the nature of leadership has shifted to being the intrinsic ‘influence’ of potentially all, rather than an elite program for a few. As one of my favourite writers on leadership, Ken Blanchard once said, “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” This idea paints a picture of relationship, inspiration, collaboration and empowering. It is a far cry from the notion of “the boss”.

Growing up on a diet of American sitcoms and drama, I learnt from TV what it was to be a ‘boss’. They didn’t talk about leadership back then. The boss was male, old, grouchy, shouted, told people what to do, had a big corner office a female secretary and a view. Back in those days there were just workers and bosses, there weren’t teams, people just did what they were told.

The world was different then, ‘culture’ meant you went to the opera and ‘collaboration’ was just another word for cheating. Fear, blame, command and control drove the “boss” culture and power was vested in the few.

In the 21stC leadership can be everywhere. Leaders are in the mix and making things happen. They create the texture and flavour for change to occur. Rather than identifying a few, the opportunity to lead is available to the many, if not all.

Instead of command-and-control, what are the elements necessary for leadership today? In a survey of CEOs around the world by IBM asked about the key traits needed for success today and into the future, the top four were:

  • collaboration

  • communication

  • creativity

  • flexibility

Future Forecast, McCrindle 2014. Source: ABS

Future Forecast, McCrindle 2014. Source: ABS

These areas were identified as essential skills that CEOs actively sought in recruiting new staff. If we then recognise that our students, and our younger teachers will morph and change throughout their careers, how are we providing opportunities for them to develop these skills.

In the highly regulated school environment, with external pressures that often feel like command-and-control this can be a challenge. Nevertheless, we will not serve the rising generation unless we give them opportunities to acquire these essential skills.

We need to provide opportunities to grow leaders who are equipped for:

Purposeful collaboration: Working together as a team to achieve shared goals

Effective communication: Sharing information through whatever means necessary to inspire, encourage and effect change

Creativity in practice: Where a new and valuable idea is developed for aesthetics, for simplicity or to solve problems

Flexibility in execution: Allowing for a range of appropriate responses to a given situation

The way we design schools and then structure the learning activities directly impacts the effectiveness of a leadership culture, through:

  • Openness both in the physical space and to new ideas
  • Freedom of movement and expression
  • Teams collaborating on meaningful projects

It is important that leadership is in the mix with the culture of a school and is available to anybody. Through the opportunities that technology brings and the potential of global connectedness, young people have the ability to lead and influence like never before. Schools then, need to be the place where their leadership has the space to be nurtured and grown.

@anneknock