Studer Education- Leader Development Newsletter- September Issue 
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Finding Time Through Process Improvement 

Take Time to Find Time 

by Janet Pilcher 
We could all use some extra hours in the day.  As we work with leaders around the country, we are frequently asked for time management tips.  Our Studer Education team has learned that process improvement is the most effective time-saver. 
When you take a moment to think about the tasks and responsibilities that consume your time, you might also find yourself thinking, “There has to be a better way.”  The good news: there probably is a better way. The first step in successful process improvement is to realize and identify the process in need of improvement. High-performing leaders then engage key process stakeholders to define improvements that will achieve the same outcome while saving time. By connecting you to the work of our partners, we highlight two processes that save time and help you get the work completed in an efficient and effective way. 
  • Stoughton Area School District (WI) leaders have adopted an efficient process for engaging new employees in 30 and 90 day conversations. The forms utilized and pre-determined schedule provide leaders with a structured and protected time to re-recruit and connect with new hires, which helps save time in the end
  • The CESA #9 process of organizing each meeting with an Evidence-Based Leadership agenda creates a streamlined model for communicating expectations and maintaining alignment.  This approach not only drives the work of the leadership team, but also helps reduce the need for course-correction around essential pillars and priorities.
As you reflect on processes in your district, consider where leaders might find time through process improvement.  How much time could you win back if your department modified one process this year?  Select one from our partner examples or one that aligns to your immediate needs. Improve a process and save valuable time. 

Leadership Tips

Try this tip: Assess

As coaches to our partners, we provide an external lens to the assessment process that informs leaders of how to make the best decisions to maximize performance. We engage leaders to use the results to celebrate wins, identify gaps, and share their own mistakes. Before we shift blame for why something is not working or why we haven’t achieved a goal, we have to hold up the mirror and reflect on our own behaviors. Leaders become better when they use evidence and research to help them get better.

Try this tip: Validate

Validation, as part of the Execution Flywheel, takes place when every leader consistently applies a well-defined and clearly communicated process. When leaders are always compliant, attention is focused on the quality of execution. We celebrate high performance and address any performance gaps that may interfere with people achieving at their highest potential. It is difficult to judge performance without monitoring compliance. Compliance relates to frequency, and frequency helps us improve performance. Validation is about holding up the mirror to determine if we are always complying and executing with high quality.

Click here for more leadership tips!
Making Meetings Matter Through Process Improvement in CESA #9

by Melissa Matarazzo 
Educational leaders spend many minutes of each day meeting with individuals and groups to engage collaboratively, solve problems, advance the work, and achieve results. Applying process improvement techniques to our meetings can improve efficiency and increase our productivity, while also enabling participants to walk away from meetings feeling good about what’s been accomplished. Who wouldn’t like to leave a meeting saying, “Wow, we accomplished so much!”?
In Cooperative Educational Service Agenda #9 (CESA #9), their mission is to provide leadership for educational improvement and to strengthen educational institutions' capacity to educate all students creating healthy, resilient, successful adults. To achieve this mission, CESA #9 teams serve 22 school districts in northern Wisconsin in areas like special education, early childhood learning, school improvement services, and more.
Meetings in CESA #9 are critical to maintaining alignment across departments in support of annual organizational goals, as well as infrequent occasions to gather a well-traveled team in one place. Karen Wendorf-Heldt, Executive Director in CESA #9, has reflected, prioritized, and acted to create a meeting agenda that efficiently drives the work of the School Improvement Leadership Team. Key elements of the agenda align to great advice from Studer Group’s Jackie Gaines in her latest book, Wait a Hot Minute! How to Manage Your Life with the Minutes You Have. These include:
  • Use an agenda template for consistency in approach and to maintain focus
    • The meeting’s agenda template is clear, with sections that address connections to statewide work, working on the work, and communicating with others. Most importantly, intentions are clearly stated at the top of each agenda. By identifying clear objectives, Dr. Wendorf-Heldt and her team maintain focus on the objectives. 
  • Make sure all participants are ready to participate
    • The meeting agenda includes specific direction about how to prepare for the meeting, with any documents for review linked directly in the text of this section.
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities
    • When needed, Dr. Wendorf-Heldt explicitly communicates the decision-making level of each item, using the standard language of: FYI – for information only, decision is already made; INPUT – for discussion, feedback, opportunity to impact decision; DECISION – need to make a decision now. Participants know what is expected as they address each agenda item.
  • Get into a routine
    • The agenda is a shared, online document that “rolls”; each new agenda is placed in the same document, prior to all other agendas. Notes from each meeting are added to the agenda once the meeting is complete, so they remain in the same document, at the same link. With this structure, it’s become routine for team members to visit that single link to view the current or prior agendas to prepare for the meeting and to follow-up later. 
  • Determine action items for follow-up and document items to address at the next meeting
    • Rolling the agenda assists in this documentation, as do agenda items about communicating messages and next steps. “Future Agenda Planning” is included so that items not addressed in the meeting can be recorded and scheduled for the attention they deserve at a future meeting. 
With continuous reflection on the effectiveness of these all-important meetings, Dr. Wendorf-Heldt and the team at CESA #9 have arrived at an efficient and productive way to accomplish important objectives in meetings. Spending some of our precious minutes getting our meeting agendas working for us helps us make the most of our time together and saves time in the end. Consider asking yourself and your team to complete the Meeting Validation Checklist for the next few meetings to support your process improvement, and review our Effective Meetings Guide for tips like those that have informed CESA #9’s thoughtful approach to making meetings matter. 

30/90 Day Conversations to
Save Time in the End

by Asti Kelley 
30/90 day conversations serve as a time-management process, providing leaders with structured times to connect with their new employees. These conversations reinforce that leaders are committed to retaining the new hire they selected. Along with leader rounding with staff, the conversations build a supportive workforce culture in which problems are proactively addressed and individuals are recognized for work that produces results.
The Stoughton Area School District has done an excellent job implementing this process under the leadership of their superintendent, Tim Onsager. Having a large number of new teachers this year in the school district, making use of the 30/90 day conversations will be extra important to both employee and student success. 

The district considers the 30/90 day conversations a form of rounding conducted in a way that is more formalized and structured. They do this by creating forms for leaders to fill out, and set aside windows of time for all leaders to complete the conversations. These forms are then forwarded to Human Resources.
The scheduled time protects and ensures a set time for leaders and employees, establishing communication with employees as an expectation. The process also serves as a method of re-recruiting, which saves time later by not having to train replacement employees.
The Stoughton Area School District, due to their effective use of the 30/90 day conversation process, will only continue to see positive results throughout the school year. The district appreciates the standard form, which not only establishes better connections and relationships, but also eliminates time in having to develop questions on their own, making it a valuable process for the entire organization. 
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Our Next Chat
DATE: SEP 29, 2016
TIME: 3:30 PM- 4:15 PM (CST)
TOPIC: Process Improvement to Find Time 
COACH: Melissa Matarazzo 
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