At the core of retaining highly effective staff, I value the principle of "Get out of their way and let them do their job." What this means is doing everything I can in my avenue of influence to cut the noise and distractions that take time from our teachers, teaching. I am vigilant about trying to cut down and protect our staff about reports due, out of class items to complete, and the time wasters we all encounter in the profession. I do not want to paint a picture that we solve all of these issues, but I believe a school leader must be mindful to supporting and protecting the classroom. Trust me; all of this is a constant work in progress. This includes limiting any overhead announcements in the day; building procedures to get students from class when needed that minimize disruptions and cutting down on the clutter of email that can grind people's time away.
A couple Ideas that I utilize, and are continuing to grow with experience:
1. Transparency and Honesty
Even when it is not going to be popular. I believe this must be a cornerstone of sound practice as a leader. If your people cannot trust you, they will not listen to you. This really is not a practice that you can ‘practice’ in my opinion, you have integrity and honesty, or you do not. I do not think most people wake up in the morning and say “I’m going to lie today” but I do think we fall into the trap of often making decisions, proclamations, or speech that is less than honest because we want to avoid confrontation. This is not good. Even when it is not popular, honesty is a cornerstone to building trust. I have been told many times that I am ‘blunt’, sometimes in a positive way, and sometimes negative. I freely admit there are times when I could be smoother, more artful in my communication, but I have found repeatedly people appreciate blunt, forthright talk, especially when they know it comes from a place of honesty. No one appreciates double talk or mincing words. As a principal I think it is fundamentally important to say what you mean, openly, even if it will be criticized or challenged. Criticism is a good thing when it comes from a place of care, and an honest leader will listen to it.
2. Build predictable systems of conveying information to your staff
In "Can Leader's Be popular?" By Thoms Hoerr, he speaks to this point more eloquently than I can. I have carried this article around with me for a couple of years in my toolkit.