Studer Education- Leader Development Newsletter- February Issue 
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Round Out Leadership: Rounding as a Power Practice

Rounding to Power Leadership 

The top tactic for employee engagement is leader rounding. Rounding allows leaders to recognize and reward success, while informing process needs and improvements. During rounding conversations, leaders are encouraged to ask direct reports:
  • What is working well for you?
  •  Do you have what you need to do your job?
  •  Is there anything I can do to help you continue to perform well?
  •  Is there anyone who has been especially helpful to you?
 Leader rounding is encouraged for all educational systems. We see effective examples of this tactic in action in two partner organizations. These organizations are using rounding to improve relationships and communication at all levels.
  •  In the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District, a High Level Rounding protocol was established to introduce and build positive perceptions of the tactic.
  • The Northwestern Illinois Association leaders utilize rounding as a way to connect practices and people in their widely distributed workforce. This organization is also experimenting with technological innovations to support rounding.  
Checking in with employees through leader rounding is a highly beneficial practice. The tactic emphasizes care and concern for all members of the team. It is also a powerful tool for connecting the dots of decisions and goals across the organization. As you consider implementing leader rounding, think about questions your leaders could utilize to align and inform organizational outcomes. When leaders are intentional and consistent with these conversations, relationships of mutual trust become visible and powerful throughout the organization. 
Leadership Tips:
The Power of Rounding with Teachers
Leader Rounding: The most important tactic for employee engagement 

Dr. Reggie Lipnick is a middle school principal in the Escambia County School District in Pensacola, Florida. In one of her first school leadership positions, she made rounding with teachers one of her top priorities. By doing so, she learned something from them. The sixth grade teachers told her that their students were losing about 20 minutes of instructional time a day because of where classrooms were located. To allow students time to get to places like the cafeteria and special areas, the teachers had to shorten the academic classes.


Being new, Dr. Lipnick asked them how long that had been going on. The answer ended up being about 15 years! Dr. Lipnick then did a great thing. She asked the teachers how they believed the problem should be solved. In the middle of the school year, the teachers made a decision to change classrooms and accommodate students’ needs.

We’ve found that when we ask teachers to solve problems, they will do what’s right for students every time.

If you are like us, you’ll probably say that you’re already practicing leader rounding with your employees. We would have said so, too, at one time. In fact, during that time, if people had asked us if we rounded, we would have said, “You bet! I can do the whole organization in less than 30 minutes.” In fact, we would say to our assistants, “I’m going to go round. I’ll be back in 18 minutes.”

We would walk through the halls and flash a thumbs-up to employees as we passed by. We would ask people, “How are you doing?” Usually they’d say, “Fine.” We would say, “Great!” and keep up the pace. If someone responded with a problem, such as “We’re understaffed,” we would say, “Hang in there!” and move on.


Leader rounding is different from what we thought. First, we encourage all leaders to round with their direct reports. The first thing we do as leaders when we round is build relationships with our employees- get to know them, what they like, what they relate to, the people who are most important to them, and other things that define employees as individuals. When leaders round, they recognize employees’ needs, which are to feel cared for, to develop their skills through training, and to have the resources they need to do their jobs.

Click here for more leadership tips!
Rounding at the Top
The Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District (SCUC) strives to be a top workplace in San Antonio, Texas, and its immediate surroundings. An annual survey on the workplace is important input as leaders strategize to improve the work experience for all employees so that SCUC continues to attract and retain the highest quality educators and employees to serve students.
In the spring of 2016, feedback from the survey indicated that employees did not feel as strongly that “senior leaders understand my work.” To address this perception, Dr. Greg Gibson and his team convened to create a “High Level Rounding” protocol. Then, after implementing a full cycle of this protocol, he introduced all leaders to the benefits of rounding with employees. By connecting the High Level Rounding to district-wide survey results, and then introducing Employee Rounding (an SCUC-specific label) as a means to address site-specific areas of opportunity, Dr. Gibson and his leaders provided a system and set of skills that all leaders could apply for improvement. In both types of rounding, leaders implement typical prompts or individualized variations, like: What’s working well? What processes could be improved? What tools or resources would help you do your job better?
In the table below are the general elements of each type of rounding in SCUC:
Components High Level Rounding Employee Rounding
Why do we conduct a round? For district leaders to build stronger relationships with employees and to learn about the work at each school and how to best support that work. For school and department leaders to build stronger relationships with those they serve and to identify opportunities for process improvement and resource allocation.
Who rounds? Superintendent, Board Trustee, Department Leader(s) who serves as district liaison to the school A supervisor
Who is rounded with? The leadership team at every school An employee or group of employees
Where does the rounding occur? At the school site In the employee or supervisor’s work location
What happens after the rounding? The High Level Rounding Team collates general impressions and shares with the full leadership team. Individual issues can be forwarded to appropriate departments for resolution. The supervisor responds to employee requests and provides ongoing updates via a stoplight report.
Since SCUC implemented High Level Rounding first, two unexpected benefits accrued to the system.  First, individual board members could contribute to board discussions, “When I rounded with Steele High School, I saw that…” as an example of practice in schools. Then, as leaders learned about employee rounding, they approached the opportunity having experienced the High Level Rounding as a positive, reflective experience – and who wouldn’t want to provide that to their employees? Together, these rounding models serve to continuously improve the rounding experience in this fast-growing district. 

Board Rounding at a Glance
What is Rounding?  Rounding is an intentional, scheduled activity designed to elicit specific, actionable feedback.

Why Rounding?
  • The goal of rounding on board members is to capture important feedback on which to act, including information for reward and recognition and for process improvement. 
  • By regularly conversing with board members about their board role, work and transparently taking action, leaders build trust, nurture relationships with board members, and help members feel valued, which increases resiliency and engagement.
  • There is a high correlation between engagement results and quality outcomes.
What Do I Ask When Rounding?
  • Opening question to build rapport– “How are things with the family?”
  • What is working well for you regarding the board?
  • What could be working better? Do you have what you need to do your job?
  • Is there anything I can do to help?
  • Is there anyone who has been especially helpful to you that I can recognize on your behalf?
How Do I Use the Rounding Protocol?
  • Set a rounding schedule that is manageable and reaches all board members. Leave more challenging board members to last. Start with a goal of 3x per season (9 x per year).
  • Validate the process with a rounding log or other tool – keep track of the conversations.
  • Manage up and reward/recognize individuals. Make a call. Send thank you notes. Make a point of saying something when you see them. What gets recognized tends to get repeated.
  • Follow up and close the loop. Be forthright about what can be changed and what is not in your control.  Check back to see if the change is addressing the issue or concern.  Follow up is essential.
The best way to damage a relationship is to ask somebody for feedback, hear it, and do nothing with it.
Innovation: The power of rounding
We live in a time where technology and innovation are essential to an organization’s success. Finding ways to adapt to the changing environment around us is absolutely necessary, especially when the engagement and productivity of our employees depend upon it.
Rounding on customers is a new practice for Northwestern Illinois Association (NIA) leaders. Jon Malone, Regional Director of NIA, has been rounding on board members as well as special education directors in the districts served by his organization. He is asking what is working well with services provided by NIA, what could be improved, who has been especially helpful, and is there anything else NIA can do for their customers. This practice of Malone’s, that his leaders are also doing with their contacts within districts, is helping build “unmistakable value” for NIA in the eyes of the districts. 

Studer Education team is working with the NIA on the development of great customer service to districts so they come to understand the services provided and how they bring value to the work in each district.

Malone is finding out what improvements need to be made or what gaps might exist in the services so that they can become a focus area for his leaders. When Malone rounds on his board members, he is building their knowledge base of what NIA does for districts as well as their engagement in the process of serving on the board. He and his leaders are all connecting their scorecards to their evaluations this year, so rounding is one of the leader actions on Malone's scorecard and on each leader’s scorecard. Malone and his team are living out "what we teach-we measure what we treasure," as well as the value they bring to their districts and their board through rounding.

Malone is experimenting with “bot rounding” via Howdy (robot software technology) to round with his employees due to his number one challenge for employee engagement: a widely distributed workforce. Malone’s employees are spread out over many districts and are only physically in person once a year during the summer for one day, making the promise of the bot's rounding capabilities extremely useful.
Malone is also making use of the app,
Recognize, that focuses on reward and recognition. This app helps companies promote behaviors across their workforce to be more productive and profitable.
While bot rounding and online reward and recognition do not replace one-on-one conversations, we applaud Malone’s effort to strengthen employee engagement and fill the gaps in innovative, creative ways. 
March 16-17
Symposium on Continuous Improvement 
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August 1-2
What's Right in Education
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November 16-17
Symposium on Continuous Improvement 
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Our Next Chat...

Date: March 16, 2017
Time: 4:00-4:45 pm (CST)
Topic: Feedback Loop with Evidence 
Coach: Dr. Melissa Matarazzo 
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This month, we are focusing on Principle #8. Communicate at All Levels falls under leadership development. Communication is a big part of the skill set leaders need in order to 
achieve results. Why? Because communication connects the dots for people- it ties all other principles together. When leaders build their communication skills, employees are aware of the organization's commitment to excellence. 
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