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Wait! Before You Fill Another Position, Read This!


What are the traits you need in all team members to drive your mission and vision forward?

Imagine one of your friends has invited you to accompany them on a long car ride. The only information you have is how much luggage to bring and how many people will be traveling with you. The friend never reveals your final destination, so you have no idea where you are going or why. If you’re like me, I had a difficult time imagining getting into anyone’s care (no matter how close the relationship) and not being aware of the destination. This is probably the first question I would ask! So why should it be any different when we’re interviewing for a job?

Think about it- when you are hired for a job you practically being asked to join someone on a journey. Of course, you’re provided with a job description, salary information, and other technical things to get you started – but how many times are you provided with why the organization exists and where the organization is going? Believe it or not, this happens a lot in our schools. Usually the belief is if potential candidates have experience in a particular area, they should automatically know where you’re headed right? Not necessarily. Every district, every school has unique needs as it serves a unique population of learners. Therefore, your mission and vision will be different.

When we hire new employees without sharing our mission and vision or when we fail to share our mission and vision with current team members, we are automatically setting them up for failure as we are providing them with no direction. My husband, Kermit, usually says that “leaders are the guardians of the mission.“ This means that it is the leaders responsibility ensure that behaviors, attitudes, and the work people contribute is aligned to these agreements. Too often we leave it up to our team members to figure out the purpose of the organization own their own and many times in schools, we believe that our sole mission is to educate students.

If you google the 24 most inspiring mission statements – you will find that the missions that inspire us to the most are those that are inclusive. For example:

Starbuck’s Mission is: To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time."

Or check out Nike’s:

To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.

Wow! they even included me!

According to a 2016 survey by LinkedIn titled “50% of Job Seekers Want Purpose, But US Companies Simply Don’t Deliver It” author Wade Burgess reveals,

LinkedIn surveyed more than 1,000 working professionals and 500 recruiters and HR professionals in July. We found that 64.7% of job seekers say that not knowing, or disagreeing with, a company’s mission, values or purpose is a deal-breaker when considering a future employer

(https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/trends-and-research/2016/50-percent-of-job-seekers-want-purpose-but-us-companies-simply-do-not-deliver)

What about your mission/vision?

Now take a look at your school or district mission statement. More than likely you only talk about what you’re going to do for students. You have left out teachers, staff, families, and all the other people that need to be inspired and encouraged to do the work. If you are not inspired by your mission or vision, how can you expect the people you hire or those that currently serve to get exciting about what they have to do for others?

Leaders take for granted the power of a strong mission and vision that is inclusive of everyone. But how can people make informed decisions as to whether or not they are in the right school, district, or position if you don’t communicate what you are about?

We are quick to complain about poor behaviors or performance but if you don’t outline what constitutes poor behavior or performance, how will you measure it or better yet, how can you hold people accountable? This is one of the main reasons many of us end up with the wrong people on our teams or in our organizations, we haven’t communicated the mission and vision effectively or we may not have communicated it at all.

My Dad use to always tell me that I had a lot of common sense. As I’ve traveled the country to talk to schools, I’ve realized that there is no such thing as common sense. Unless you communicate what is common, more than likely you will not see it in your organization, and you will continue to pick up the wrong passengers who will delay the process of getting your team to your desired destination.

I learned this important lesson my first year as a school principal. During that year, we had at least eight teachers leave our school to assume other roles or go to other campuses. Our leadership team saw this as a great opportunity to change a broken culture as we brought in new employees with new mindsets.

As we filled these vacancies, it seemed that the new employees mirrored and took on some of the old attitudes and behaviors as the people that left. How did this happen? After giving it some consideration, we realized that we had not been clear on what we were looking for in all teachers and staff that came to our school. Once we became more intentional about the people we were hiring as well as the behaviors and attitudes of our current employees, the culture of our campus began to evolve. You see, ultimately we were more focused on “what” people did rather than “how” they did it.

Here are a few things to consider when hiring people that will drive our mission and vision:

· Learn and Live Your Mission. When I facilitate discussions with school leaders, you would probably be surprised by the number of people who don’t know their mission or vision. If you don’t know your who you are, why you exist, or where you are going, how can you expect to hire people with attributes that will make your mission and vision a reality? Remember, every person in your school has their own individual culture, their own values, goals, and beliefs. It is up to you to communicate your team’s shared values, goals, and beliefs so that they can align their behaviors to where your school wants to go.

· The mission is for everyone, not just adults. The mission and vision should be communicated to team members, students, and adults. It is not something that is simply displayed on the walls of the building or placed in a handbook, but is heard and repeated throughout the building and in everything you do. Way you can reinforce your mission and vision is to recite it on morning announcements, at the beginning meetings, and have members explain their role in making sure it becomes a reality.

· Remember, It’s not about you!

Some leaders like to hire people that they believe will be loyal to them (personally). They look for people who favor them and those that will not push back on their personal agenda. This is always a huge mistake. Be careful not to hire based on your personal preferences, make it about your organization’s mission and vision, this will help when you making any decision including hiring retaining, and terminating Do this by having your team take a good look at your mission and vision and deciding on traits your team will need in all its’ members to help drive your mission forward.

And finally,

· Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

Once you have decided on the characteristics you need to drive your mission and vision. Make sure you discuss what each of these traits look like in action. Remember, each member of your team holds a different view or perspective based on their individual experiences. It’s important that when you talk about something as broad as “being professional” for example, you discuss what being professional means so that you can identify it and communicate it to future and current team members. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! It is not enough to display your mission/vision on the walls of the building or place it in a handbook where you think it will be seen. You must live it and communicate every chance you get! Morning Announcements (with students), team meetings, newsletters, and school Functions (with parents). Consistent communication will ensure you see the behaviors, attitudes, and results you want to see.

This year as you prepare to take your team on an amazing ride, make sure you let them know why you’re traveling and where you’re going- this will give them the opportunity to show up appropriately!

With something to think about. Make it an amazing week or not. The choice is yours.

Niki Spears,

Author, Motivational Speaker

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