Too many school leaders (from Principal to Board Member) have an unrealistic view of the human condition. They mistakenly believe that the best indicator of effective and productive staff is the lack of complaints. This would be wrong.
Today’s educational arena is in constant flux. Standards change, accountability increases, the knowledge base expands, practices evolve, political policy devolves, funding constricts, etc.
To adapt, survive and thrive in this environment requires constant change, both incremental and large scale. Change is difficult, uncomfortable, and scary. Even the “freaks” who like change (of which I am one), like their change in certain areas of their life and then require near perfect consistency and conformity in other parts of their life. It is what allows them to thrive in the high change environment. For example, every day is a new challenge for me, there is next to no predictability and I love it. On the other hand, my backpack is packed “just so.” Everything I need to be productive during the day is exactly where I need it to be. Even if they are trying to be helpful, if anyone else packed my backpack, I would be darn near dysfunctional for two days. So my love of change is conditional.
When children face the difficult, uncomfortable and scary, they slow down, shut down and quit. When adults face the difficult, uncomfortable and scary, they gripe and complain. “Gritching,” as my Mother described it. You know, “Griping” and…, well you can figure out the rest.
So this is where the unrealistic view of some leaders, especially those removed from the action and the messy endeavor of leading people in the field, comes into play. These leaders mandate the “Change” and demand results. But when they hear the inevitable complaints they assume that the change is being mismanaged and they halt implementation. That is a serious mistake.
When we implement change, our staff are forced out of their comfort zone and routines. If they were children they would quit. Since they are adults, they “gritch.” In fact, it is a truism that if you are attempting to implement change on your campus or in your district and there is no gritching, the change is not being implemented. Because…
Gritching is the lubricant that allows us to deal with the friction of change.
The sound of gritching is a glorious noise; it means the organization is moving in a new direction. When you hear it, run towards it. Because that is a staff that is trying and needs your coaching, support and empathy, in other words… LEADERSHIP. If you hear gritching and stop, that is poor management. And if you are upstream in the chain of command (central office) and punish field leaders (principals) when you hear staff complaints, just know you are the primary reason why the organization is entrenched with the status quo.
Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…
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