Educational Equity Newsletter – January 14, 2021
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How to retain a strong team
As we’re getting settled in after winter break, many of our clients are thinking about staffing for next school year. Specifically, you might be thinking about what you can do to retain the most vital members of your team.
Retention isn’t typically done in big gestures or in one season—people decide to stay or go because of the cumulative small moments they experience throughout the year. That’s why the best time to think about and work on retention is long before offer letters go out…and the second best time is right now! As you think about issuing offer letters, here’s what we suggest you keep in mind:
Have the conversation.
Managers should be having stay interviews with every team member they’re hoping to retain before an offer letter hits their inbox. Even if you think someone’s foot is out the door, don’t assume—have the conversation.
All retention isn’t good retention.
When our organizations grow and change, staff and leaders leave—that’s expected and healthy. Sometimes, especially after particularly rough years or leadership mistakes, staff leave because they’re burnt out, embittered, need a break, or don’t agree with the vision your organization has or the path to get there. When employees share their desire to leave, sharing how much you value their contributions and that you’d love to find a way to keep them (if it’s the truth!) is fair. However, persuading someone to stay against their own interests rarely results in long-term retention or a staff member whose drive is reignited. We see many leaders make the mistake of aiming to persuade a staff member to stick it out “just one more year” by appealing to the mission of the organization or their relationships with students and colleagues. More often than not, this strategy delays the inevitable and creates undue pressure on the staff member (especially BIPOC staff members or more junior staff members) to sacrifice their own interests and well-being for the sake of the school.
Who and why—not just how many.
While it can be stressful to imagine 20%, 30%, or even more of your staff not accepting their offers, in some years, that’s what happens. Rather than being concerned merely about percentages, focus on who is staying and who is leaving, paying careful attention to patterns across lines of identity, tenure, and performance level. Use exit interviews and one-on-ones to more deeply understand the drivers of their departures so that you can make changes to retain those that remain. For example: if your school has taken strides to become more antiracist, and experienced but less culturally competent teachers choose to leave, what on the surface might seem like a huge loss might actually create the opportunity to hire more staff aligned with your antiracist values and evolution.
Know who you can’t lose, and make a plan.
In any building, there are teachers, leaders, and staff that are making a disproportionate difference on the experience of the school community, whether by advancing equity, raising the game for the services delivered, or influencing their colleagues, students, or families for the better. Identify these individuals and have a targeted retention plan for them.
Don’t stop working once they’ve said yes.
With some of our clients, there’s often a full court press to retain as many qualified teachers as possible that ends as soon as these teachers say “yes” to one more year. Rather than rest on your laurels when you’ve gotten your staffing solidified, jump-start next year’s retention strategy by keeping your promises, managing well day-to-day, and fiercely advocating for your people from day one.
Upcoming Working Session
Retaining a Strong Team
Thursday, January 28 at 4pm EST
This training will be a working session with a focus on application and practice of tools from our January newsletter. Register here.
And, save the date for our upcoming working sessions on February 25, March 25, and April 22. Registration links to come.
From “POCI” to “BIPOC”
TMC is committed to continuous learning and evolution as we progress on our antiracist journey. Sometimes this shows up in how we approach language—what we say and how we say it. Instead of “People of Color and Indigenous” (POCI), we are now using “Black, Indigenous, People of Color” (BIPOC) internally and externally. While we understand that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to discussing systemic racism, we believe that the term BIPOC better centers the unique experiences and relationships that Black and Indigenous people have with white supremacy and systemic oppression within a present-day U.S. context. We strive to do our best to address anti-Blackness and Indigenous invisibility, and to amplify the experiences of all people of color in our internal and external work.
Secure your spot in a 2021 training!
Give yourself something to look forward to this year by signing up for some TMC training goodness! Whether you’re looking for a training on project management, support with managing remotely during the pandemic, or an overview of the basics of people managing, we have something for you. Sign up here!
Need more support?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about our coaching and training services for leaders in the education sector. We look forward to hearing from you!