Archive for the ‘Goals and targets’ Category

Types of Team Support

February 22, 2013

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Support can come in all forms, and sometimes when you don’t expect it. A great team is mindful of its members, and can sense when they are ‘off par’ and either need time & space to sort things out for themselves, or need some form of support or intervention from their colleagues.

Colleagues therefore can play key roles in supporting team members from time to time.

“I get by with a little help from my friends”… famous song lyrics, as well as a possible team moto!

Here are a few of the roles team members can adopt which can support their colleagues …

1. The Cheerleader role

These are the colleagues who will ‘big you up’ when you’re feeling low. They believe in you, and are great at encouraging you. They’re good at picking you up following a setback and may do so by reminding you of your successes!

2. The Challenger role

This is when a team member questions your motives – but from a positive perspective. If, for whatever reason, you’re not focused on the job at hand, this can be useful for getting you back on track. This type of role is also useful to help you discover a new strategy when you’re stuck.

3. The Coaching role

You may be fortunate enough to have a teacher trained in coaching skills on your team. These skills can be valuable to help you identify internal as well as external resources to help you achieve work-related goals/targets. They give you time and space to think and will provide objective feedback … And, your conversation should also be confidential!

4. The Confidant role

These are team members you can really trust and are great listeners. They help you to offload, and usually have a calm approach which helps you to gain an objective perspective.

Which of these roles have you performed for your team colleagues, and which of these roles do you prefer your colleagues to offer to you?

What’s the Team Vision?

February 19, 2013

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It’s quite commonplace for a school or organisation to have a vision, and previous blog posts have discussed why this is useful and how you might go about creating and implementing one.

But what about the teams within the school? The Key Stage teams, for example. What is their vision – if, in fact, they have one?

Personally, I see no reason why teams within a school shouldn’t have their own vision, provided it supports the school’s overall vision.

Here’s an exercise that you can do with your team to develop the team vision.

Developing the smaller team vision

  • Split into groups of 3 or 4
  • Ask them the question: “What do you want our team to achieve by the end of this term / school year?”
  • Alternatively, ask: “What do we want the children in our team to have achieved by the end of this term?”
  • Tell each group to prepare a news report that will outline the team’s success at the end of the given time scale.
  • Encourage them to be creative and think wider than they’ve done previously
  • Remind them it’s not just about numbers/results!!
  • Encourage them to draw on team members’ strengths and aspirations when considering what can be achieved

Share and compare the news reports. This can prove quite interesting, as you could get lots of different reports! But what’s most useful is that ideas & strengths will come from it that were previously untapped or unknown.

This then opens up the discussion within the team about what your vision could be. At this point, you may decide to share the whole school vision and see how the team vision could support it.

I’ve had some interesting outcomes when doing this exercise with teams, as well as a lot of fun! It’s a great collaborative exercise to bring teams together, as well as build relationships with new teams.

If you try this – I’d love to hear how it went!

Thinking of developing your school teams?

Call me to find out more and discuss your options

2013 Goals – It’s all in the language

January 14, 2013

Popular targets people set for themselves are around what they want less of in the year ahead …

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  • I want to eat less chocolate
  • I want to lose weight
  • I want to be less stressed
  • I want less clutter
  • I want to work less evenings during the week

Have you ever found yourself phrasing your goals in terms of what you are trying to avoid, reduce or give up?

What we say to ourselves about the changes we want to make is crucial in achieving those changes.

When I was doing my coaching training, one thing I learned stuck in my mind … apparently the brain doesn’t process negative language the way we intend it to.

So for  “I want to eat less chocolate”, the brain doesn’t interpret that you want to reduce your chocolate intake, rather it focuses on “I want to eat ___ chocolate”.

Thinking about how I used to set goals it makes sense that this was happening with me on a conscious as well as a subconscious level. Whenever I thought about my goals I found myself reminded about what I was trying to avoid!

So focus on what you want, rather than on what you’re aiming to avoid – even if you start from the latter point, you can always re-word your goals to something more positive and achievable.

For example:

  • I want to eat fruit (or other healthier) snacks between meals
  • I want to be ___ kg (or stone/pounds!)
  • I want to have strategies I can use for stressful situations
  • I want to create a tidy home/work space
  • I want to have 3 evenings a week to spend with family/friends/chilling out

How have you worded your goals this year?

What do you want in 2013?

January 2, 2013

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As you look forward into 2013, allow yourself time to consider what you actually want. 

Give yourself a few days at least to think about what you achieved last year, what worked, what didn’t, and perhaps why … this will help with setting goals that are realistic.

Where to start?

3 possible starting points …

1. What things are important to you?

What do you want to ensure that you keep (or create) in your life?

2. Starting from “OK”

If everything’s OK but you want it to be better, take a more strategic approach and look at the different areas of your life.

For example:

  • family & friends
  • work / career
  • finances
  • personal development
  • relationships
  • environment
  • hobbies and interests
  • health & fitness

Review each area and give it a score out of 10 for how content you are. The lower scoring ones may point you towards areas where you want to create goals for 2013.

3. What are the main issues for you right now?

You may have some areas that are more pressing right now; things that you want to change as a matter of urgency (e.g. new job, saving money, spending more time with a family member)

And don’t forget …

  • Make sure your goals are what you want for yourself, not what someone else wants for you. Likewise, you can’t control others, so don’t set goals that are about someone else changing something, or behaving differently … it will be very difficult to ensure this goal is met! Instead, consider what changes you could make in this area to improve the situation.
  • Dare to dream a little! Someone challenged me to do this with regard to my business goals last year, and some of them came true 9 months early!
  • Send yourself a postcard!

More on goal-setting next week 🙂

How do you start the thinking process when setting yourself goals?

What’s your Personal Best?

September 17, 2012

Just over a week ago the closing ceremony for the Paralympics drew to a close what’s been an amazing run of success stories for athletes this summer from across the globe – both from the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Many world records were broken and many personal bests were achieved.

But you don’t have to be an athlete to achieve a Personal Best!

It could be argued that many of the 70,000 volunteers and Games Makers, who helped make both Olympics such a success, achieved ‘personal bests’ in the services they provided, such as the example of greater confidence in the previous link.

Personal bests can be achieved in a whole range of areas …

What’s the best conversation you’ve had with a colleague or friend?

What’s the best lesson you’ve taught or best bit of 1-1 tuition you’ve done?

What’s the best conference you’ve organised or meeting you’ve ever run?

What’s the best bit of mentoring or coaching you’ve done?

I’m sure you can think of other areas where you can recall your personal best.

So, why were they your best moments? How do you know – what’s your evidence?

One Head teacher I’ve worked with identified the following elements of a successful meeting with her SLT:

  • knowing what was to be achieved from the meeting
  • clarity and understanding of issues from all
  • enabling and facilitating everyone to have a voice
  • encouraging creativity
  • ensuring conclusions and next steps are identified by all (taking ownership)
  • identifying clear strategies for communication of outcomes to all staff

What would your’s be? 

Once you’ve considered personal bests in a range of areas, are there common strengths underlying each one? How can you replicate these common skills in other areas to achieve more personal bests?

The nature of personal bests mean that there’s always the potential to beat them, either by changing some equipment you are using or by changing / tweaking your actions.

What personal best will you achieve this week?

Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Taking on a leadership role this autumn? (Part 3)

August 27, 2012

In this 3rd and final part of the current ‘Taking on a leadership role …’ series, the focus is on confidence.

3. Confidence

So, how ready are you, and how confident do you currently feel about your upcoming leadership role? Give yourself a score out of 10, with 10 being most confident…

In a previous blog  – Want more confidence in the workplace? – I suggested some tips to give yourself a confidence boost at work. In addition to those more general tips, for a confident start to your leadership role, I add the following.

I often find that confidence comes from knowing what to do and from experiencing the ‘do-ing’! So …

  • Know what you want to do with your role (get clarity)
  • Know what you expect from others and communicate this clearly
  • Know what others want. What do your team members need to do their job effectively?
    • Ideas / resources / time to talk through their concerns?
    • Mentoring / coaching / training?
    • By setting aside a few minutes each week in the first few weeks to identify staff needs, you can address these quickly. Even if you aren’t able to provide for everyone’s needs, you can at least tell them why, and they’ll hopefully respect you for it. It shows you’re listening and doing what you can.
  • Know how to create opportunities for early wins, for yourself as well as relevant stakeholders. Building on this success helps build confidence – both in yourself and others’ confidence in you!
  • Know that it’s OK for things not to go according to plan – you can make adjustments and get back on track. Learning from these types of situations increases experience, which builds confidence.

If you scored yourself less than 7/10 earlier, try some of the confidence building strategies suggested above.

These are only a few suggestions.

  • What others can you think of?
  • If you have some leadership experience already, how have you ensured a confident start to that role?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Taking on a leadership role this autumn? (Part 2)

August 26, 2012

So how’s your preparation going for the start of the new term (if you haven’t already started!)? And does it include prep for a new leadership role?

In Part 1 I introduced the first of 3 key areas that will help to ensure a successful start. This blog looks at the second.

2. Communication

Once you’re clear about your leadership role, what’s expected of you, what your goals/targets are, and what their achievement will look like by the end of the year … what’s the 1st thing you’ll want to communicate to your peers/team(s)?

  • Your plans for the term/year?
  • Your expectations of all those involved with your leadership area?
  • Targets and deadlines?
  • Ideas, hints & tips, expertise sharing?

What you choose to communicate first may depend on your circumstances, what your leadership role is for, and your style of leadership.

For example …

1. If you are new to the school and taking on leadership of a Key Stage, you may decide to ask lots of questions – for information gathering purposes – before you decide how you want to develop this area of the school/the staff.

2. If you are leading a curriculum area and you have already established expertise and experience in that area, you may want to offer help/guidance to other staff as part of the planning or assessment process.

3. If you are taking on a new headship, you may already have a clear vision which you want to communicate from the start (or open up to discussion and development with all staff).

As you will have clarity for yourself about what you want to achieve, help others be clear about what you need from them…

  • When telling other staff what they need from them, it’s easy to forget that people have preferences for learning and retaining information; most common ones are Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic styles (more on this in a couple of weeks). For the moment, remember to include showing as well as telling them what you need, and where possible provide opportunities for staff to learn by doing, experiencing or trial & error methods.
  • In order to meet your own deadlines, if these involve relying on others for data, policy input, work samples etc, it makes sense – where possible – to provide them with a deadline that is about a week before yours, to allow for any unforeseen delays.

What do you think is the most important thing to communicate at the beginning of a leadership role to ensure a successful start?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Taking on a leadership role this autumn? (Part 1)

August 7, 2012

Whether you’re taking on a new curriculum area, a key stage responsibility, leading a specific project, becoming head of department, assistant head, deputy head, or head this autumn, you’ll no doubt have already started thinking about (if not planning too) what you’ll be doing.

So how will you ensure a successful start?

Whatever role you are taking on, there are 3 key things that I believe will help to ensure you make a successful start. This blog looks at the first one.

1. Clarity

Making a good start involves having clarity from the knowledge of what’s expected of you. The number of senior leaders I’ve worked with over the last few years who have had that clarity about their leadership role have been outweighed by those who haven’t. In the hussle and bussle of school life, where everyone has their own list of jobs, it’s easy to assume that colleagues and team members know exactly what is expected of them.

So, some key questions to consider …

  • How clear are you about your new role?
  • How clear are others about your role?
  • Do you have a job/role description?
  • If this is generic, where can you get further clarity about what is expected of you by all stakeholders?

If you have some flexibility with the role, and can mould or create it as you see fit,  identify what you want to achieve … for yourself, the year group, key stage, curriculum, the school … and set yourself some goals for the year. Then break these down into manageable chunks for each term. Ensure you are clear about what a successful year/term will involve.

  • What do you need to do?
  • What do you need others to do?

Linked to this is setting the success criteria. What will a successful start look, feel and sound like. Identify these from the start, then you know what you’re aiming for, and there is less chance for misunderstandings and disappointment further down the line.

Finally – being really clear about your leadership role will be time-saving in the long run. It will reduce the time spent re-doing things, smoothing over misunderstandings and spending time doing things you didn’t need to do in the first place!

Part 2 looks at communication. In the meantime I’d welcome your comments on this topic 🙂

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Connecting with the real you

August 1, 2012

When we’re in the thick of it at work we often find ourselves being pulled in different directions, with different demands on our time and energies. We are different things to different people. We rarely have time for ourselves.

So when your holiday comes around, who do you become? What’s your default position? And is this the real you?!

Do you prefer a more relaxing time?

Or something more energetic / adventurous?

Or is it all about quality family time?

Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I tend to go for a mixture of all 3! I like my “me time” – where I reflect on the past few months, what I’ve achieved, and where I want to go next (business; health/well-being). I also like to reconnect with what’s important, my values, and ensure that these are being catered for in my plans for moving forward.

I usually combine this with being out and about, going places I’ve never been before, taking photos and soaking it all up. New experiences feed the soul. Love this view we discovered recently of Chatsworth grounds from a ‘secret pond’ we’d never have discovered had we not been walking the dog nearby.

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to discover something new!

Quality time with family and friends is also high on the agenda around this time. I always enjoy my trips to visit family – spread all over the country from the NE to Poole in Dorset. Recent experiences have nailed home that life is short, and we should both embrace it and have no regrets.

I feel that I connect more with the ‘real me’ when I am having a break … I have more space to reflect and plan.

What about you?

Implementing a school vision

July 23, 2012

In this 3rd and final blog in the current series on school vision, I turn my attention to implementing the vision.

So the vision is set and you know what you’re aiming for. What’s next? Let’s look at this in 4 parts:

1. Communicating the vision

How clear is it and how easy is it to communicate? A common response to this is to simplify it in the form of a strap line: e.g.

‘Excellence for all and from all’

Where do you display it, as part of your communication strategy? In the school vision survey I carried out last year, the most common place was the school entrance (40%), with the Head’s office second (33%) and in classrooms third (24%). Does this reflect your current practice? Other places included: the website, the staffroom and school headed paper.

Do you stick to displaying your vision in word format (73% of schools from the survey) or in pictorial format too? (22%). Could you get the pupils involved in this process, or even the wider school community?

2. Delivering the vision

A strap line is a useful concise way of stating the vision, but all stakeholders need to know what it means.

What does it actually mean on a daily basis?

Regardless of who is involved in the initial creation of the school vision, it needs to be owned by all stakeholders. This can be achieved by identifying how each group contributes to the overall vision.

I don’t think it’s necessarily about telling stakeholders what their roles are. You can ask them how they think their roles contribute to the overall vision; a useful group task as part of an INSET / staff meeting on this topic. It helps to encourage ownership and accountability. If they can’t see how their roles contribute, perhaps some guidance is needed or their roles need a revamp.

A good vision helps people at all levels make more informed decisions because it is clear and they know their part in it

3. Supporting the vision

A few questions to consider with this part:

  • What practices, if any, need to be different?
  • What role will the SLT have in driving and maintaining it?
  • What new teams need to be created?
  • How will the School Improvement Plan support the vision?

Part of supporting the vision may involve behaviour changes, which come from having different expectations (of pupils, the curriculum, each other …). It’s important that staff are supported in making sure this is a success.

How will you build this into your INSET / staff development strategy?

4. Monitoring the vision

As with anything that is implemented in school, some form of monitoring needs to take place. So who will be involved in monitoring the vision? What format will this take, and how often will it be done?

54% of respondents to the vision survey felt it should be reviewed annually. Do you agree?

Once you’ve decided on frequency and format for monitoring, a final couple of points to consider are:

  • How will the outcomes be shared / communicated?
  • What will your next steps be?

I’d love to hear your thoughts / experiences on revisiting, creating or implementing your school vision. It’s always useful to share good practice!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net