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Knowing your staff is an important part of running a successful school. You can have the greatest school improvement plan, but if you do not have the support of your entire staff, it is doomed to fail. It has been said that the best leaders are the ones who are able to gain the trust and admiration of their staff. By getting to know your staff, you have the benefit of understanding each individual’s talents, needs and motivators. You also help establish a respectful school environment that boosts morale, confidence and establishes an overall feeling of support.

 

Why is it important?

As you get to know the staff in your school, you will be helping to spread an ethos of inclusivity, giving each member of staff a chance to have an input in the running of the institution. A great first step is to focus on your own self-awareness. Make sure you are personable and approachable. Create opportunities to talk both inside and outside of work, if needed. Occasionally, talk about your family, hobbies, or other outside-of-work topics. Yes, I know what you may be thinking, but I have learned that in the Arab world, relationships are everything. Yes, you may have to hear all about the family before you can discuss any other matters. Just do it.

 

Be approachable and trustworthy

Allow your staff to see you as not just a boss, but also as someone they can talk with and trust. Secondly, focus on listening to your staff. Developing your skills and learning to be an effective listener will help you with your staff as well as in your personal life. Ask sincere questions about things that are important to your staff, like how their families are, how their day is going, etc. Avoid getting too personal, but genuinely get to know them. If an employee does not open up to you, don’t take it personally, they may prefer to keep their personal lives and work lives separate and that’s O.K. too.

 

Organise team building activities

Develop the relationship slowly. Be friendly and open and let the communication evolve according to their comfort level. To further get to know who you work with, put together outside of-work functions or team-building activities. Pick activities that build trust or build team unity. Don’t be afraid to find volunteers on your staff to organise these events, some people just have a great knack of getting others together.

 

Know your staff’s learning styles

Become aware of each individual’s learning style. You can use this to better divide job duties, and other processes to the staff member, so that he or she can be more effective. Take the time to become more aware of each individual’s communication style. This will make you better able to understand their behaviour, leadership potential and management style.

 

Discover your staff’s preferences

Know what they like to do and what they don’t like to do. Use this information to delegate job duties and tasks. Or perhaps, challenge them to face the tasks that are challenging to them in order to help them learn new skills and grow as a professional. Find out what motivates them. Some workers are motivated by bonuses, which of course we would love to give but might not be able to, others by receiving praise. Understand what kind of feedback they best respond to. Find out the best way to give them feedback. You will discover that your staff is more effective and productive when they work in a school where they feel honoured as individuals.

Do not just pay lip service to getting to know your staff. I am making a quality decision to know my staff better this year. Will you do the same?

 

By Leisa Simapili

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