HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR SCHOOL
INTERNAL STRUCTURE AT AN FSS SCHOOL
The objective of this chapter is to provide your organization with the tools and necessary understanding so you can undertake to Organize Your School.
Bringing about the necessary changes and adjusting work systems represent a major part of the work of the Director of a FSS School. Thinking about how change causes disruption in an organization can be quite wearisome. Faced with this challenge, many ignore problems rather than deal with the situation. However, those that have been in organizations going through a phase of change know better.
The bottom line is that changes cause disruption and disruption in turn provokes a crisis of uncertainty and insecurity in the staff, which makes them seek new frontiers. This manual has been carefully designed to guide the director of a rural school in the process of transforming the institution into a FSS School. Great care has been taken to ensure his or her success in the process of changing the paradigm of the school while keeping staff motivated and increasing their sense of self-worth.
NOTE : From now on, “staff” or “employees” are interchangeably referred to as “collaborators”. We use this word to emphasize the fact that all of your peers including the administrative assistants, teachers, technicians and students, are collaborators who have something to add to the project.
- 1 BASIC CONCEPT
- 2 CREATING RATE A PARADIGM SHIFT
- 3 DEFINING JOB DESCRIPTIONS & RESPONSIBILITIES
- 4 EVALUATING PERFORMANCE
This section will help you adapt your school to this new model of an FSS School. You will learn how to redefine staff positions, change the paradigm of your school and transform the atmosphere within the school community.
a. ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT: THE KEY CONCEPT
The most important element in the new model is that everyone participates equally in reaching the goal of self-sufficiency. Outside of the technical changes that need to be made in order for a school to be self-sufficient, it is important that everyone from the administration, managers, teachers and the students change their conception of the school and discover the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ within themselves.
b. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
‘Entrepreneurial spirit’ is one of the characteristics that mark’s an entrepreneur apart from other people. It is the ability to think of and initiate a new project, business or a way of life. It requires creativity and the determination to improve your personal situation, realizing your own dreams.
There is a heated debate throughout the world about whether entrepreneurs are born or can be created. We firmly believe that it is something that can be taught at any stage of life! If we can teach our students to be entrepreneurs, we can do the same with our collaborators.
The entrepreneurial spirit in many people is like a muscle that is out of shape - once you start to exercise it, it begins to develop and grow.
c. CHARACTERISTICS OF AN ENTREPRENEUR
It is challenging to teach the entrepreneurial spirit in a school setting, but it can be done. Students because of their youth and openness to new ways, adopt entrepreneurial attitudes and actions relatively easily if given a chance to practice them. Teachers often need more coaxing. The adoption of an entrepreneurial spirit by entire school community is essential in order to create a financially Self-Sufficient School.
When attempting to identify the entrepreneurs in your community you should look for these characteristics:
• A developed high self-esteem.
• A believer who works to find a way to realize dreams.
• A risk taker who loves what they do and will take leaps to get what they want.
• A fighter who doesn’t give up and learns from mistakes.
• An optimistic with a positive attitude in life.
• A ‘doer’ and ‘creator’
• The ability to see ones own actions and not blame external factors.
• Brings enthusiasm, energy and strength, but at the same time realism.
• They study, evaluate and take ‘calculated’ risks, but understand when the costs outweigh the benefits.
• An acceptance that there is always a lot they to learn and they go and try to learn it.
• Someone who is autonomous and independent.
• Entrepreneurs are afraid of certain things, but it does not paralyze them or stop them from moving forward.
• Entrepreneurs understand the business they are working in and if they do not understand it they are willing and able to go out and learn about it.
• Entrepreneurs are able to solve problems and when they cannot they seek out help.
• They do not demand a security proof in order to do something, as they are aware that nothing comes with such warranty.
d. YOUR HUMAN CAPITOL
If developing a community infused with a strong entrepreneurial spirit represents the foundations for building your FSS School, then developing Human Capital from your collaborators will make for a solid and successful organization. These collaborators are the “infrastructure” that makes up the “human investment” that creates strength and capability within the organization.
A person who acts as an investor of his own human capital wants to invest it where it will have the largest payoff. There is no longer a paternalistic blind loyalty to the organization. It will be an interdependent relationship between the organization and the employee, wherein each person depends on the other and therefore one cannot simply take advantage of the other.
e. CHANGING THE WAY YOU PERCEIVE YOUR COLLABORATORS
If you see your staff as thinking proactive members of your organization you are more likely to treat them as valuable peers. If you start seeing them as investors of their own talents, capabilities, time and energy you will find new ways to attract, retain and motivate them.
f. CHARACTERISTICS OF AN EFFECTIVE ORGANIZATION
1. 80 / 20 Principle
The ‘20/80 Rule’ teaches us that 20% of your work efforts will be responsible for 80% of your results. If you focus your time, energy, money and personnel on the 20% of your priorities or productive activities that really produce results, you will get outcomes you desire.
This principal put into general terms, means that 20% of our time will help us achieve or produce 80% of our results. It will also show you that 20% of the products you are producing will end up bringing in 80% of your earnings! We can continue with a long list of where this is applicable, but you will slowly see that in most areas you work with – this principle will hold fast – especially in regards to 80% of your donations coming from 20% of your donors.
If you apply this in your school you will find that you can identify the 20 % of the people most committed to the project and vision and you should invest 80 % of the time and resources of your organization to train those people.
2. Keep in Mind the Difference between Urgent and Important
When we look objectively at tasks we have that need doing, it’s normally the case that these can be divided up into the following categories:
CREATING RATE A PARADIGM SHIFT
The objective of this section is to learn how to create a plan for implementing a paradigm shift at your school.
Often as you begin to introduce change motivation levels will drop, individual’s daily routines will be different as will the results expected of them. Your staff may not be ready to accept this. It is therefore important to work closely with your school’s teachers and remind them that the administration is there to provide whatever support and help they need.
Those who understand the benefits of the change are going to be more accepting and motivated while those who accept the status quo will have a more difficult time adapting. It is therefore crucial that your collaborators thoroughly understand why a change is being implemented and what the medium and long-term benefits are for the school, themselves, and the students.
At every opportunity where changes will need to be made, make sure you get your collaborators involved in the planning process in order to obtain their “buy in”.
b. DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHANGES
There are different types of change within an organization. Some of which are daily, minor and major – but all need to be attended too eventually!
1. DAY-TO-DAY CHANGES
Changing an individual’s day-to-day activities like breaking bad habits can be challenging. However, if we can gain acceptance that a change is needed and reinforce the value of such changes consistently, we have the ability to create systemic changes. If however, we are not persistent, the change will be an isolated event.
2. IMPLEMENTING A PARADIGM SHIFT WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION
Here are a few suggested steps that should be considered when implementing a change in paradigm at your organization:
a. Vision is the ultimate goal! Try to build an actual picture in your mind where you would like to be in the future, then work on visualizing the school you want to create.
b. Ask yourself why do you want a change, then analyze the vision. Once defined, scrutinize the changes that are needed, augmented by any that have already been made and the results they achieved.
c. After analyzing you are ready to establish a plan. The plan can be created from the following considerations:
- Understanding the current ways of doing things at your school.
- Evaluate the resources available: financial, technical and organizational.
- Define a participatory plan of action and the strategies that you are going to use.
- Evaluate your strengths and your level of commitment.
d. Create Goals! What is your timeframe to reach your objectives? How much time do you have to dedicate to the initiative? Make sure you plan to move the project along at an appropriate pace.
e. Flexibility through this process is an imperative. It is likely that new ideas will be met with resistance from certain areas of school management. If your collaborators introduce ideas to you, take time to look over them and give them the appropriate feedback.
f. Go Public!! This stage is crucial. You should approach this with an understanding of the culture and forms of communication within your organization. Therefore you should choose the most effective way to make the announcement. We recommend that you do so in a clear and direct way to all of the people that work for you organization. Remember that communication also includes listening and keeping the channels of conversation open to properly understand the reaction and concerns of the people.
g. Maintaining Communication Throughout the Whole Process is vital. If you do not announce the success and the progress of the plan, the staff’s enthusiasm will wane quickly. Avoid damaging rumors, and increase morale by communicating frequently and in a timely manner the success, progress and future steps of the plan with your collaborators.
h. Collaborators who have a say in the future of a project are more likely to become committed to it and therefore work harder to reach the goal. Solicit their help in making changes. Allow them to establish their own strategies in order to complete the milestones of the project.
i. Allow staff to have fears and air them. Stop them and ask them about how they are doing and if they have any fears or concerns. Accept that fear of change is natural, but work with them to reduce the uncertainties that feed such fear.
Track & Measure the Progress Being Made: You will realize that the process will require you to follow steps along the way in order to reach the final goal. This will also help you to act immediately when actions stray from the plan and time-line. This is especially important when working with long-term goals.
3. MOTIVATING YOUR COLLABORATORS
Our work has taught us a great deal about motivating collaborators through motivational plans, activities, parties, gatherings and athletic tournaments. Here are some key areas and extra ideas of how to incentivise your staff, keeping morale and motivation high:
• There are basic elements in one’s job that leaves a person feeling good at the end of the day. This can include the challenge inherent in the job, the interest they have in their work, whether it allows for creativity, and finally the social interactions that the job provides them.
• Offer opportunities that will allow teachers to learn, develop professionally and progress within the organization. It is the possibility of increasing one’s skills and knowledge, and the potential benefits that this can bring to the individual.
• Recognition in itself is a great motivational tool! Recognition includes increased respect from peers and seeing oneself as an important part of the organization. It may also include acknowledgement from outside the organization from clients, friends, the community or other organizations.
• Making clear the incentives offered in various forms of economic compensation or benefits, particularly in connection to level of performance and production.
DEFINING JOB DESCRIPTIONS & RESPONSIBILITIES
The objective of thissection is to provide you with an overview of the different job functions required at a Self-Sufficient School.
In conventional schools the organizational hierarchy adopted and the roles fulfilled by various types of staff employed are normally fairly standard and firmly established. In FSS Schools these structures need to be adapted to take account of the school’s business activities and the role of teachers within this as entrepreneurs and production managers.
a. HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON KEY POSITIONS IN YOUR SCHOOL?
First consider the positions that currently exist at your school. (Refer to Chapter 2) Balancing the positions necessary for a new type of school with the ones that already exist is your current challenge.
The administrative and managerial positions are vital to the implementation of a Self-Sufficient School model because its success is so dependent on developing a successful production / service process where quality and cost control are critical. In the shift from a conventional school to a financially self-sufficient one you are not only creating important job positions but also redefining the responsibilities and functions of current collaborators.
Before considering the creation of new positions it is important to fully analyze the positions already functioning at your school. An analysis of the current positions includes knowing the job description of each position and understanding the responsibilities and the minimum qualifications necessary to complete the necessary tasks. This analysis will help you to create job descriptions for each position in the Staff Handbook. (Refer to Chapter 2)
b. HOW TO OBTAIN DETAILS ON JOB ROLES
1. Make direct observations
Go to the school and shadow each employee. Take note of each task they complete and how long it takes them to do it and how they do it. It allows the person conducting the analysis to understand exactly what the person does and how they do it. It is also a way to determine the maximum performance possible for that member of your staff. Our advice is that you should use this technique primarily for basic jobs and also for the work done by collaborators who cannot properly describe the work they do because of language barriers or the inability to write.
2. Conduct Interviews
Using this technique you get the information directly from the employee, this is done by developing and using a standard questionnaire. The most important element of this technique is listening and taking notes. It is also important that you ask follow up questions if you do not properly understand their response to make sure everything is clear. A benefit of this technique is that you can also discuss how to improve the position and listen to the suggestions of your collaborators.
Technical positions i.e. positions that require someone with a certain set of skills or a certain degree, are often difficult to define clearly. Allow these collaborators to describe their day-to-day work and work with them to write a concise description that together you can agree is a good clarification of the role.
3. Conduct a Survey
One can collect the necessary facts from collaborators through a well-designed survey. However to avoid misleading results we recommend that you avoid using this technique with inexperienced or uneducated collaborators. In these instances use the above technique instead.
4. Review collected information
Once you have gathered the information you need to begin analyzing it. Review each of the positions to make sure that there are not multiple people completing the same tasks. Now is the time to introduce new positions tailored to the new model, modifying and eliminating the functions that you consider contradictory to the new principles.
Below you will is a template form, which can be used to document the different job positions that exist within your organization.
Once you have conducted this meeting, you can revise the Staff Handbook discussed in Chapter 2 to take into account any suggested changes which came out of these discussions i.e which were noted under ‘Observations’ in the previous form. You can then publish the final document with a clear note as to the date it will become effective. After this, every handbook update requires the publication of a new version that will substitute the old, and include a new revision date.
The objective of this chapter is to provide you with the tools to evaluate the performance of your fellow self-sufficient school collaborators.
One thing we can learn from educators is how to incorporate an evaluation system as one of the central pillars of our work. In any education system in any country there are systems for evaluating both the student and the educator - and despite their many drawbacks they do allow for some sort of assessment of performance to be made.
Evaluating the work of your collaborators provides many advantages including the following:
• Guide you in determining your training needs
• Discovering who is key to your school and those needing to change positions
• Satisfaction (or lack thereof) of staff regards to their work. This can be used as a guide in improving people’s future performance.
• Communicating with collaborators on how well they are doing their jobs.
• Improving the results of your school’s performance
NOTE : Your collaborators expect to be evaluated; they expect that you will give them feedback on how they are doing in their work and whether it is satisfactory or not.
You may still encounter some problems when it comes time to evaluate: lack of criteria, subjective criteria, evaluator errors and reports of poor results that discourage rather than motivate those who have been evaluated. We will show you how to design a simple evaluation of your collaborators, one that is easily applied and serves as input for other processes such as incentive and training plans.
a. WHAT ASPECTS SHOULD BE KEPT IN MIND WHEN CONDUCTING AN EVALUATION?
1. A SET OF CLEAR PARAMETERS
Every aspect, behavior or skill should be defined in terms of observable and measurable parameters - this eliminates the slant of subjectivity. Imagine however that you want to evaluate commitment, you can’t know how committed a collaborator is except through behaviors observable by other people. Therefore, commitment can be evaluated indirectly through behavior such as:
“Performs tasks well and on time”
“Collaborates with the team by contributing ideas”
2. CHOOSE NO MORE THAN FOUR OR FIVE COMPETENCIES FOR EACH JOB AND EVALUATE THOSE
Exhaustive evaluations that try to cover every point tend to end up being tedious for evaluators, and in most cases, the results of the evaluation don’t produce changes in staff members’ behavior. By choosing a few competencies and behaviors - the most important ones for each position - we can establish a support plan that helps the person evaluated overcome his or her difficulties.
3. CALIBRATE THE EVALUATORS
Normally it is the supervisor who evaluates the employee. Once you and your team have defined observable competencies and behaviors for each position you should “calibrate” your evaluators. That is, by means of joint sessions, everyone should agree upon the given definitions and grades of accomplishment expected. This step is very important because it helps eliminate bias due to subjectivity.
4. SET TIMES AND DATES TO CONDUCT EVALUATIONS
If your plan calls for monthly evaluations, choose a time of month when the workload isn’t so heavy. Consider that evaluators as well as those evaluated should dedicate maximum attention to this activity, so it should be undertaken calmly and not while there are urgent matters distracting you. If you set specific dates for conducting evaluations, insist that your collaborators carry them out on those dates and that they communicate the results promptly.
5. COMMUNICATE THE RESULTS IN A POSITIVE WAY
The results of an evaluation should be communicated in a meeting in which only the evaluator and the person evaluated are present. The interview should begin with delivering the positive points and acknowledgement of progress. Thereafter a discussion around aspects that can be improved, should be had in a positive manner! Your staff is investing time and skills in your organization, so evaluation sessions should focus on assessing how each collaborator can maximize the interest earned on the investment of his/her time and skills.
6. REACH AN AGREEMENT WITH THE PERSON EVALUATED
Too often evaluations end up with vague promises of improvement made by the person being evaluated. It is essential that all parties agree upon which of the evaluated capacities and abilities the collaborator will focus on improving and what actions will be taken to achieve the desired results. If the collaborator needs training, both parties can foresee what action should be taken in this regard. Whenever possible create a schedule with precise dates and times for action.
7. SET SHORT-TERM GOALS FOR CORRECTION OR IMPROVEMENT AND FOR FOLLOW-UP
The follow-up on actions taken for improvement should be performed in shorter time periods than those that exist between evaluations. If evaluations are conducted half-yearly it would be ideal to perform monthly follow-up of actions taken for improvement
8. PUT IT IN WRITING
It is good practice, when you meet to discuss the results of an evaluation to always put the results of the meeting in writing at the bottom of the evaluation form and have both the person evaluated and their boss sign the form. This establishes two important things: on the one hand, the evaluated person’s acceptance of the evaluation results and on the other hand his or her commitment to improve.