Monday, March 18, 2013

Organizations and People

What attracted me to my current job?  I think the most important thing that I heard was this:  we hire excellent people and make them even better.  I've written before about the importance of being valued in order to add value.  Now I'm considering how the best and most innovative companies find employees.  Is this also what the best and most innovative schools are looking for?

In The Innovators's DNA I'm reading about what innovative companies are looking for when hiring:

  • People who have a track record of discovery- skills
  • People who have a deep knowledge in one area and a breadth in others (called a T-shaped knowledge profile)
  • A passion to change the world and make a difference.
Virgin's Richard Branson describes those people as being "honest, cheeky, questioning, amusing, disruptive, intelligent and restless".  I really like this list and I'm wondering how many employers/schools really value these things and seek them out during the recruitment process.  Many would not really want their teachers to be cheeky or questioning, and they certainly wouldn't want them to be disruptive.  (This is not really surprising, however as many heads of school were once teachers, and they certainly wouldn't have wanted a class of cheeky, disruptive and restless students!)

What I have come to realize over the past 4 years or so is that in excellent schools, even average teachers can improve and become good.  The opposite is also true.  In mediocre schools, excellent teachers can become average - or worse.  Studies have shown that employees who move to less good organizations than where they came from can show a decline in performance that lasts 5 years.  Moving is always hard and even moving from one good school to another can result in a dip in performance that lasts up to 2 years.  Years ago I heard a school leader say that in the first year at a new school, the school gives more to the teacher than it gets back, in the second year it manages to break even and it's not until the 3rd year that the teacher starts to give more back to the school that it has got.  This is one reason why many schools don't like a rapid turnover of staff, and for international teachers it's one reason why many don't choose to move on every 2 years - it's just too hard.

I was interested to read about the crucial role that an organization plays in an employee's performance - some organizations and schools are successful because of a focus on training, mentoring and support.  This is the conclusion:  it isn't just people who make organizations perform better.  The organization - its processes and philosophies - can also make people perform better.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc

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