April 8, 2019
Contributor: Dr. Sharlene
The Daily Jam
You’re jamming to get your job done during the day, and you haven’t figured out a way to make life easier. Your best laid plans along with your checklist of “to-dos” seems reasonable to get done in one day. As a matter fact, before work yesterday you made that easy-to-accomplish list that should be a piece of cake to get through the next day. But your good intentions are derailed and your expectations don’t play out the same way in reality as it does in your head.
Your Personal and Talented Army
Have you tried empowering your employees to be your ‘lieutenants’ and ‘captains’ to help run the company? I’m not just talking teachers. I’m talking custodians, nurses, administrative assistants, and paraprofessionals. All of these focal people contribute to the synergy of your building. Most people want to be given that opportunity and chance to shine. To do more than what they get recognized for in their day to day job. It gives people a sense of community and purpose.
The Dictionary.com definition of empower is “to give power or authority to; or to enable or permit”. But maybe you’re hesitant to relinquish any power because it could jeopardize your input or control and put you at risk within your building. However, what if you started small and empowered those employees that you trust? Start setting yourself up for a well-oiled machine!
Chew on this for a second…you can spend a little extra time with your small, hand-selected team and share with them your thought processes on how you solve problems or answer questions using real-life scenarios. Develop a well-laid plan including them.
You say, “wait just a minute, my day is already filled up with triage issues from students and employees and you want me to squeeze in one-on-one time people? I don’t even have time to breathe!”.Granted this is all true, however if you frontload time and share thought processes, the dividends can pay off. Even if you can only afford 10 minutes a day to get it started.
7 Ways to Empower Your Staff
Where do you start? Here are seven tips and tricks to get you started.
- Explain your vision to people you want to work with and ask if they’d be interested in supporting this vision and playing a key role in a team. Don’t just assume that they’re going to jump on the train and head off into the sunset with you. Ask them and explain the benefits.
- Shared responsibilities. Assign everyone in the group a responsibility based upon their strength or area of interest. It communicates individual ownership connected to a shared, community team goal.
- Be transparent. Your staff is wrapped up in their own daily tasks and not necessarily mindful of what is going on everywhere else. Share the big picture with them. Give them a glimpse of what is going on in other grades, parts of the building, upcoming tasks. Just be careful not to cross confidentiality boundaries.
- Instant feedback. Survey overload is real. Instead, establish a safe environment for people to communicate openly with instant feedback. Create norms in meetings and maintain respectful environments. This means fixing problems before leaving a meeting…don’t leave items unaddressed. And always end the meeting on a positive note.
- Build trust. Everyone is working toward a common goal. Be transparent. Allow for instant feedback.
- Grant decision-making power and flexibility. Notice your employee’s strengths and let them shine. Offer to let them run a meeting when their topic is being covered. Allow their creativity to flow and let them lead the dance.
- Respect boundaries. No one likes a micromanager. Give people their space, but encourage them to ask questions. And remember, providing challenges to help an individual grow is different than assigning them tasks that are way out of their comfort zone and impossible for them to accomplish.
You can even go as far as create action plans together so that there is clarity around decision-making on their part.
Dr. Sharlene has been an educator for 16 years and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and a C.A.G.S. in Educational Administration. She was a secondary classroom teacher for seven years and became a 5-12 Science Department Head for the last three years as a teacher. As an educator, she received prestigious state and national awards including the National Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Award, and the Mass BioTech Grant. She is presently a district-wide PreK-12 administrator in the high performing State of Massachusetts (9 years) and has focused a lot of time on elementary education.