In any service or school, the productivity/output and level of performance is tied very closely to the culture. Where there is a stifling culture, performance is often mediocre. By contrast, where there is a culture of innovation and modern leadership there tend to be high-performing teams that value consistent growth and learning.
All leaders are interested in pushing performance to the next level but it’s no easy task, and depending on the existing culture, it might require lots of change management. Still, it is always worth it, as facing the challenge of culture shift will result in boosting performance throughout the entire organisation.
Here are change management considerations for any leader working toward improving the performance of their service or school:
1. Start with why. For any change to take place it’s important to start with a clear, strategic vision. Why is this change necessary? How will it impact staff and stakeholders? What are the benefits to the community, students, pupils you serve? Communicating the strategic vision and the “why” will go a long way toward establishing the need for the coming change.
2. Get middle management onboard. In smaller schools or services the senior leadership team may be the ones to drive the change. However, in larger contexts, change management is often distributed to middle managers who will rely upon top leadership people to help champion the change and their efforts. Without the support of senior leadership, it’ll be hard to convince the rest of the staff that your school or service is serious about the new direction.
3. Provide the essential tools. Not having the tools and infrastructure in place to support the change is one of the biggest points of failure for any change management effort. If you want to make your change stick and sustainable, you’ll have to ask yourself what new skills do people need to learn and what tools do they need to get the job done. If it’s a new process or system, you’ll need to provide induction and ongoing training for example. Not only does this approach ensure staff members have the tools they need – but it also ensures that change is made possible.
4. Measure results and seek feedback. High-performance learning cultures requires tracking progress toward goals and receiving feedback on what is and isn’t working. Collecting feedback can be as simple as just asking people and gaining regular insights from colleagues on the ground. When measuring results, however, you have to set metrics that connect back to the strategic vision discussed earlier in the process and see if you’re meeting your aims. These two approaches provide both a subjective and objective look at your progress that you can use to make improvements to your plan as necessary.
5. Be patient yet intentional. There may be temptation to expect things to change immediately. This expectation is a recipe for frustration and failure. Be patient with your team as you implement your plan for performance improvement. In larger schools and services, change will almost certainly feel uncomfortable to some because there is likely to be an ingrained way of doing things. For smaller contexts, the frequent pace of change might be the source of resistance. Acknowledge both of these potential realities as, and when, they arise, and be willing to adjust as you come against roadblocks.
Whether your goal is to improve staff performance, inspire better collaboration or create a total cultural shift, these tips will help establish the foundation for implementing change successfully.
Image by Francesco Gallarotti. All rights. Unsplash.com