Communicating to Employees

By Nora Carr

The start of a new school year should be an exciting time, but from the moment the first student walks through your doors, the clock is ticking.

And your staff knows it.

How your staff responds to the classroom challenges they face -- and how your board communicates to help them deal with those challenges -- ultimately will determine the performance of your schools. Are you doing what’s necessary?

While not a panacea, employee-first communications is extremely important to your future success. Leaders at all levels need to set up systems and structures that allow for ongoing feedback from employees. You also need to make a concerted and coordinated effort to ensure that employees know what is going on, why, and how it will affect them. This requires a systematic effort as well.

In a June 2011 Harris Interactive/ Yammer poll I mentioned last month, workers gave their companies low marks for internal communications. For example, only 8 percent said their companies excelled at internal communication, while 15 percent rated employers as ineffective.

I suspect a national poll of public school employees would reveal the same dismal numbers, particularly in large districts and rural areas, where student needs are greater, politics are hotter, and budgets have taken bigger hits.

Interestingly, the same research shows employees are hungry for more information and that poor communication negatively impacts productivity. When workers don’t have all the information they need to do their jobs effectively and well, all aspects of school and district operations suffer.

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