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Studer Education- Leader Development Newsletter- October Issue 
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Keep the Throttle Down: Managing Organizational Change 

Keeping the Throttle Down is Necessary  

BY DR. JANET PILCHER

      janet.pilcher@studereducation.com 
Our team frequently reminds leaders, “In education, even the way we change has changed.” In the midst of constant change, what remains in education is the desire to have purpose, do worthwhile work, and make a difference in the lives of those they touch.  The role of leaders is to navigate change in a way that creates new opportunities and keeps the organization moving forward with the throttle down.
 
To leverage the power of continuous change, our partners have grown to rely on the framework, principles, processes, and tactics that maximize performance and sustain excellence.
 
  • The School District of Menomonee Falls has intentionally moved through a series of leader changes, with the closing and opening of a new academic year.  To maintain high expectations and propel the team through the uncomfortable gap, the superintendent relies on a thoughtful onboarding process and effective communication tactics.
  • The Chippewa Falls Area School District has experienced a seamless superintendent transition, as the new leader relied on relationship building and 30/90 day check-ins with team members.
 
In addition to natural and unexpected transitions, leaders often initiate change to move the organization to higher levels. The key is for leaders to do what John Kotter suggests – create the right type of urgency to maximize organizational and human performance. Leaders may do this by asking questions found in our Straight A Leadership Assessment: Over the past 5 years, how easy or difficult has the external environment been in your school district?; over the next 5 years, how easy or difficult will the external environment be in your school district?; if the district continues to perform exactly as it does today, how much worse or better will results be?  Change is unavoidable and, if well-managed, can lead to renewed focus, efficient processes, and success.  

 
Leadership Tips:
Changing Times, Constant Values
Strong Leaders Manage Change Effectively

We live and work in interesting times. More than ever, educators face continuous pressure to reform established practices in order to improve outcomes throughout the school system. Many executive leaders and boards of education are doing all this with declining budgets. As educators, we’ve faced decades of reform initiatives, but some current mandates are opening up uncharted territory.

Yes, many things have changed, and the changes are dramatic. Yet many other things- which may ultimately be the most important things- have stayed the same.

In order to survive and thrive, leaders need to focus on improving systems by creating and maintaining a culture that reinforces high performance.

Strong leaders know how to navigate change in a way that creates new opportunities. Today, organizational results depend on how well leaders guide their teams to achieve. Equally important, leaders and teams must be good problem solvers and thinkers.

The best leaders:

  • create a system-wide vision
  • clearly set and communicate a direction for people to go
  • align behaviors to priorities
  • create best-place-to-work environments that motivate people to action
  • reinforce critical and strategic thinking on how to achieve well-defined outcomes
Click here for more leadership tips!
Intentionally Move Through the Gap

BY DR. ROBIN LARGUE
      robin.largue@studereducation.com 
Change—what a powerful word. It elicits all sorts of emotions in all of us. If we are to grow, we must change. If we learn, we change. The experiences we have affect us and create change in our views and what we know. Today, change is not episodic, it is consistent. We used to be able to go through the disruption of change and then take a rest until the next change arrived. This is no longer our reality, as change is constant. If nothing else tells us this, consider that we are now on the iPhone 7. Technology and the expansion of knowledge forces us all into a constant state of change, to avoid becoming irrelevant.
 
The School District of Menomonee Falls is one example of a school district embracing and intentionally moving through change. At Studer Education, we call the gap in performance that occurs as a result of change the uncomfortable gap. Under the direction of Superintendent Pat Greco, the district has continued to move forward and maintain educational excellence despite experiencing a number of leader transitions while moving into the new academic year. Superintendent Greco realized the district needed to maintain the momentum of processes that have become hardwired, even during uncomfortable change. To do this, she relies on an onboarding process that is intentional and planned, which ensures new leaders have space to move through the phases of individual change. This onboarding process exemplifies her commitment to maintaining high expectations, while thoughtfully supporting her employees.
 
Dr. Greco also has a clear awareness of the leader’s responsibility in reducing anxiety that change invokes. This involves effective communication, through the use of what Studer Education calls key words at key times and the WHY, WHAT, HOW communication sequence. By using both of these tactics during times of change, leaders say the right thing, in the right way, and at the right time. Dr. Greco relies on these tactics and has developed a strength in communicating the vision for the district to new, and veteran, employees.  Through intentional actions and clear communication, the School District of Menomonee Falls is equipped to keep moving with the throttle down.

 
Seamless Transitions Enable Continuous Educational Excellence 

BY ASTI KELLEY
     
asti.kelley@studereducation.com 
The Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District is a place where change, innovation and success meet. The school district’s ability to effectively manage change and adapt accordingly allows for smooth, seamless transitions- one transition most recently being the welcoming of their new superintendent, Dr. Heidi Taylor-Eliopoulos.
 
Taylor-Eliopoulos has been especially strong in listening and building relationships. After meeting with various groups throughout the organization and community within her first 90-100 days, Taylor-Eliopoulos reported back her findings, something we at Studer Education greatly emphasize. “From a coaching perspective, most people do the listening, but not all do the reporting back,” says Studer Education coach, Dr. Melissa Matarazzo. “This shows her listening and relationship building skills by sharing transparently what she heard.”
 
Taylor-Eliopoulos continues to build relationships with the board, cabinet, new principals and other administrative members. She is intentionally developing relationships with different groups in her new role. In addition to her learning sessions, she uses one-on-ones, team meetings, and 30/90 day check-ins to build emotional bank accounts with others from her new seat in the organization.
Under the direction of Taylor-Eliopoulos, CFAUSD is especially committed to Continuous Improvement. “Establishing teams and distributing leadership for the journey to performance excellence meant that there was no hiccup with a new executive. The system continued to operate until she could allocate the time to support ongoing growth in that system,” says Matarazzo.
 
The school district believes today is great, but it is essential to continually strive to make tomorrow even better. “In our district, we set annual measurable goals that are derived from our Strategic Plan,” says Taylor-Eliopoulos. “These goals cascade down to buildings and departments at all levels to ensure we are working together with the same focus and progressing in the same direction. We review our progress indicators regularly and adjust our sails if needed. We collect feedback from staff, parents, students, and the community. This feedback drives our work to provide exceptional service to our stakeholders.”
 
It is clear to see that continuous educational excellence is attained through effectively managing change, and because of the district’s ability to do this, Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District certainly has a great deal to be proud of. 

 
Visit TeacherReady Site
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Continuous Improvement Symposium
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Our Next Chat... 

Date: October 25, 2016
Time: 3:30 pm (CST)
Topic: Managing Change 
Coach: Dr. Robin Largue 
Register Here
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