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Bring Out the BEST in Your Staff



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Slides from 2017 presentations for both Palliser Teachers and Greater Edmonton Teachers' Conventions.
How do we build a culture that helps staff members to thrive? Strengths-based leadership provides the lens and mindset that brings out the best in staff members and creates the conditions for increased trust, more collaboration and sharing, and a resulting climate in which people want to innovate and excel. Chris will use powerful stories, along with supporting research, to encourage formal leaders to embrace a strengths-based lens to create a positive school culture.

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Bring Out the BEST in Your Staff

  1. 1. Bring Out the BEST in Your Staff March 3, 2017 Palliser District Teachers’ Convention Chris Wejr @chriswejr
  2. 2. Where I come from
  3. 3. "I come to you humbly not to tell you what to do on your journey but to share with you what I have learned on mine” Wab Kinew cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Thompson Rivers University:
  4. 4. What is organizational culture?
  5. 5. CCimagefromwilgengebroed
  6. 6. A Positive Organizational Culture Strengths- based Collaborative Innovative Focused Trust ~ Happiness ~ Curiosity ~ Care
  7. 7. Kent Elementary A strengths-based, collaborative, innovative, and focused culture.
  8. 8. Moving to a new school with a new culture
  9. 9. By changing behaviours… we can change culture
  10. 10. 1. The topics will be relevant to what we do (and what we want to do) at James Hill. 2. We will be flexible and willing to try new things and ideas. 3. We will share the successes happening at our school. 4. We will create strategies to provide equitable opportunities for each of us to share our voice (and not be dominated by a few). 5. We acknowledge that a sense of humour is important and will embrace opportunities for light-hearted dialogue. 6. We will stay on topic and stick to the agenda. 7. We will have a clear timeline for implementation of ideas. 8. There will be a clear purpose to the discussion and agenda items. 9. We will encourage others for their ideas and ask others for clarification, comments, ideas, and suggestions. 10. We will provide time for grade level collaboration. 11. We will always make time for getting together and having small group discussions. 12. We will respect that some may prefer to listen and reflect. Our Commitments James Hill Elementary School - Staff Meetings
  11. 11. A light-hearted culture… with an intense purpose. Suzanne Hoffman, former Superintendent
  12. 12. Discuss: What is the culture YOU want in your school?
  13. 13. Strengths-Based Culture
  14. 14. STRENGT H S d e f i c i t s
  15. 15. What we see… Depends on what we look CCImagebyRyanHaddad
  16. 16. “But the other side is unbaked. The side of strengths, the side of what we are good at, the side…of what makes life worth living.” Dr. Martin Seligman “Psychology is half-baked, literally half-baked. We have baked the part about mental illness. We have baked the part about repair and damage…” Image from Pixgood
  17. 17. Positive Psychology We should be building on the best things in life AND repairing the worst… Dr. Martin Seligman CCImagefromCamdiluv
  18. 18. “When an organization’s leadership fails to focus on individuals’ strengths, the odds of an employee being engaged are a dismal 1 in 11 (9%)… When an organization’s leadership focuses on the strengths of its employees, the odds soar to almost 3 in 4 (73%)” -- Tom Rath CC Image from Midiman
  19. 19. Gallup - StrengthsFinder From Dallas Marks
  20. 20. By focusing on weaknesses, we create competence. By focusing on strengths, we create EXCELLENCE. Emma Seppala
  21. 21. -30 -20 -10 0 10 20 30 40 . Research from the Corporate Leadership Council, 2002 Strengths +36.4% Weakness es -26.8%
  22. 22. Are We Asking the Right Questions? CC Image from Raymond Bryson
  23. 23. What’s broken? How do we fix it? What’s working? How can we do MORE of it? Chip and Dan Heath
  24. 24. Focus on the BRIGHT Spots CC Image by C. Singleton
  25. 25. WWW
  26. 26. Capture and Share the Positives
  27. 27. Turning it Around The Story of Kari CC Image from Prime Education:
  28. 28. Recognition and Acknowledgement
  29. 29. By celebrating what’s right . . . we find the energy to fix what’s wrong. Dewitt Jones
  30. 30. Discuss: How do you/will you bring out the strengths in a staff member(s)?
  31. 31. Collaborative Culture
  32. 32. Not everyone likes to collaborate…
  33. 33. Building Trust CC Image from T. Vogel
  34. 34. Always be there…
  35. 35. Follow through… Do what you say you are going to do.
  36. 36. The motive that inspires the greatest trust is genuine caring. Stephen M.R. Covey
  37. 37. Communication and Transparency
  38. 38. Be Vulnerable Image: Being rather than knowing requires showing up and letting ourselves be seen. It requires us to dare greatly, to be vulnerable. Brene Brown
  39. 39. Image: Just Listen
  40. 40. Focus more on being INTERESTED and less on being interesting. CC image from M. Kuram
  41. 41. It’s not always about solving problems…
  42. 42. Building Trust Through a Meet ‘n Greet
  43. 43. Create a safe enough environment that the parking lot conversations start to happen in staff meetings.
  44. 44. Make time for what matters cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Xava du:
  45. 45. Living Systems Learning Communities
  46. 46. The Start of a Collaborative Journey
  47. 47. The Importance of Happiness and Joy
  48. 48. Discuss: How do you/will you build a more collaborative culture in your school?
  49. 49. Innovative Culture
  50. 50. Moving from “Can we…?” …to “HOW can we…?”
  51. 51. Give good teachers the tools to become great teachers. Chris Kennedy
  52. 52. “We cannot motivate others… we can only work to create the conditions for people to motivate themselves.” -- Edward Deci and Richard RyanImage:
  53. 53. Supportive Autonomy
  54. 54. Time for… Strengths Curiosity Innovation cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Toni Verdú Carbó:
  55. 55. Leader-Leader Culture
  56. 56. Shifting Mindset Through The Strength of an Education Assistant
  57. 57. Expand and Connect the Pockets cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Esther Simpson:
  58. 58. Be a Connector. Image:
  59. 59. The importance of rest
  60. 60. Discuss: How do you/will you build a more innovative culture in your school?
  61. 61. Focused Culture
  62. 62. What are your priorities as a school?
  63. 63. Mission, Vision, Values Co-Create
  64. 64. Be a filter for staff. Focus on priorities.
  65. 65. Discuss: How do you/will you create a more focused culture in your school?
  66. 66. How are we modeling this?
  67. 67. Shifting the Culture By Sharing The Positives
  68. 68. Open the Doors Share the Stories Shift the Culture
  69. 69. We need to make the positive so LOUD that the negative becomes almost impossible to hear. George Couros
  70. 70. Sharing: From me to us
  71. 71. What is ordinary to you… Might be extraordinary to someone else cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by akshay moon:
  72. 72. How will you being here today change what you do next week? What will you DO to bring out the BEST in your staff?
  73. 73. Take a risk. Try something new.
  74. 74. Connect With Me @chriswejr

Editor's Notes

  • Father, teacher, principal
  • Share about me
  • How we do things
    Assumptions, values, beliefs that influence behaviours
    vibe, the feeling
    Accepted behaviours
  • Bringing out the best all comes down to CULTURE.
  • Values weaved through – trust, happiness, courage
  • I was lucky - Already had a collaborative, innovative, focused and strengths-based culture
    Staff meetings, risk takings, leadership within
  • In 2014 I moved to a new school in a new district with different strengths
    From the outside looking in, it was hard for me to see what those strengths were.
    First staff meeting – made it collaborative… “we don’t know how to do this”.
    A culture that did not seem collaborative, innovative, strengths-based – but was focused.
  • We started with our behaviours.
  • Then we asked ourselves… what is the culture we want
  • This about culture… about engagement… and about strengths.
  • Story of Jean
    We focus too much on our deficits and not enough on our strengths.
  • What we focus on gets larger – what are we looking for?

    Challenge to see strengths in stressful situations – large classes, large needs, large curric, little support.
    It is also difficult and stressful for us to see through the deficit lens.

    Step back… seek out the positives in our schools.
    When we look at our challenging students, what do we see? Where is the bar?

  • Positive Psychology Research  did an activity in which people with depression determined their 3 top character strengths and then had to spend time doing NEW things with these strengths for one week. 6 months later… still feeling significantly better. They did the same thing in a few schools… and achieved positive results in learning, cooperation and social skills.
    The best part about this was not only did people feel better… but they stuck with the activities for the next 6 months without being asked.
    By focusing on strengths, we not only bring up the deficits but we also create the conditions for people to truly flourish… to take those strengths and create more passion, more purpose, and more pride.

  • Seligman and others researched and came up with 24 character strengths that crossed cultures, societies, religions, etc.
    There are questionnaires and surveys to help you as well as students from age 10 decide what their top strengths are.
    Doesn’t mean we don’t have the others but there are some in which we have more of. When people get to spend time using these strengths, happiness increases. Mental health increases. Engagement in school increases.
    It will be interesting to see where this goes in schools.
  • we should be just as concerned as strengths as weaknesses
    we should be as concerned about making the lives of normal people more fulfilling as we are with healing pathology
    Helping those that struggle.
    Helping those good staff members flourish and become truly great.
    Not about ignoring deficits…. But focusing more on strengths.
    “Can I give you some feedback?”…
  • Gallup research on Strength-based leadership
  • A strengths-based culture energizes the people within it
    focusing on weaknesses leads to less energy, low levels of motivation, poorer performance and, eventually, burn-out. - are the weaknesses relevant or irrelevant? If relevant, develop them through strengths. Celebrating strengths and what is working gives people the energy to address their weaknesses and what is working less well or not working at all. Mike Roarty
  • If we focus on strengths during feedback, we get an increase in over 36% and if we focus on weaknesses we get a DECREASE in almost 27% in performance.
    This is a swing of 63% in performance. Still fluffy?
    What if I told you that this research did not come from elementary classrooms… this research came from the Corporate Leadership Council that surveyed over 19,000 employees in 27 countries in the world to determine how companies can best lead their businesses and employees. This research came from companies such as Canon, Caterpillar, Lego, H&R Block, and Lowe’s Hardware. These are companies in the “big bad world”
    The Gallup organization has also shared research on the significant impact of employee engagement when we use a strengths-based focus
    Not so fluffy.
    This research points to a simple message: When we change the lens to a strengths-based focus, we bring out the best in people. Period.
    This works for students, for children, for employees… for people.

    One of our main jobs as parents, educators, and leaders is to bring out the best…
  • Are our questions moving people?
    We have low literacy rates – how can we improve?
    We are doing well in numeracy – why? What can we learn from this?
    Move from what can fix to what can we build upon?
  • "You are simply asking yourself, “What’s working and how can we do more of it?” That’s the bright-spot philosophy in a single question.” Chip and Dan Heath
  • Shifting the culture through sharing
  • Very difficult to develop struggling teachers through our weaknesses.
    Tap into positive psychology. Do something in areas of strength.
    Huge struggles at former school. Needed new start, new space, much support.
    Strength of resiliency… as well as in the arts.
  • Positive, Private, personalized, meaningful feedback to individuals
    Public appreciation to staff or groups – at staff meetings, Monday news, newsletters, PA
    Teaching is hard work – teachers need to know that principals appreciate this. Share the stories.
  • ripples of positivity - shawn achor
  • This about culture… about engagement… and about strengths.
  • Not about team building activities
    About building REAL trust through the work we do.
  • It all starts with trust
    Trust starts with you… if staff can trust you and you can trust them… you can change behaviours
    I met with every staff member one on one for 30 mins to learn more about them
    I spent a ton of time in classrooms getting a feel for who we are at James Hill
    Building trust is so important… but we don’t want to blow it….
  • So follow through is important
  • Management
    People are watching
  • caring—caring about people, caring about purposes, caring about the quality of what you do, caring about society as a whole. When people know you care, you get way more trust, flexibility and support.
  • Share the WHY of decisions
    Communicate regularly and clearly
    Not so much about what is said but what is HEARD
  • Take risks, be visible, tell your story, let people in, model transparency.
    To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. – Brene Brown
  • Active listener – “listen with your eyes”
    Don’t listen to say what is next
  • Nobody signing up – then one by one
    What makes your heart sing?
    What are you curious about?
    How can I best support you?
  • What do we want to see in our schols? Growth? Innovation? Collaboration?
    Make time!
    Staff meetings, Pro-D
    Shifting priorities in our current day
  • What are we curious about?
    “seed time” to those that use it well
    Inquiry - driven
  • Shifting the culture – strengths-based has led people to be more confident and collaborative in staff meetings

    willing to share their ideas and thoughts on education at our school.
    We have a long journey ahead of us… but we are building trust and confidence and letting people in.
  • Humour, joy
    Successful people are not always happy… happy people are always successful. Happiness fuels success, not the other way around Shawn Achor
    What are we doing to create more opportunities for JOY and HAPPINESS in our school cultures?
    Stop taking ourselves so serious.
    Let it go… laugh a little.
  • This about culture… about engagement… and about strengths.
  • What are the conditions that are needed to engage our staff?
    Autonomy (professional) – Mastery – Purpose (WHY)
  • Choice within our focus… choice that falls within what we believe are expected behaviours.
    autonomy is not "do whatever you want"
    Autonomy to vs autonomy from
    Deci - "autonomy supportive managers had workers who were more trusting of the corp, had less concern about pay and benefits, and displayed a higher level of satisfaction and morale"
  • Google 20% Time, FedEx Days – Dan Pink’s Drive
    FedEx Prep
    Teacher Innovation Day
    Staff unconference (edcamp style) – strength from within

  • Most people I have worked with WANT to lead. Embrace this, tap into this, create the conditions for this to happen. Treat people well.
    Encourage others to lead PD both in/out of school/district
    Daily 5
    Love of Books- reading team
  • an important task is to take the pockets of innovation and effective practice and help create the conditions for these pockets to spread.
    We have silos in education through classrooms, subjects and other structures.
    Through technology, we can seek out and share great things so it becomes less of a pocket and more of the norm.
  • Model sharing of ideas. Create intellectual collisions.
    Be the messenger of what is happening in one class to the other – and to families (verbally, social media) WINDOWS
    Offer time to observe
    One of the best things that I have done is spent time in classrooms learning from great teachers and trying to share those stories to other classrooms.
    Provide time for teachers to share their strength (ex. Woelders)
  • Rest leads to more creativity and higher performance
    Powering down.Exercise. Leisure.
    No emails on weekends. Model this.
    Busy should not be a badge of honour.
    Prevent burnout.
    Plan staff meetings carefully.
  • This about culture… about engagement… and about strengths.
  • Too many areas of focus cause burnout and affects culture. 
  • Mission - why are we here, what do we do
    Vision – dream – where are we going
    Values – how do we behave and what do we believe
    Must be co-created… what qualities and attributes do we want our grade 5s to have when they leave this school?
  • Staff meetings, conversations, pro-d
  • This about culture… about engagement… and about strengths.
  • Our stories shape who we are.
    When we Start with strengths… and share these strengths… we create a window in and we change the story.
    When we Change the story… we change the identity…. And Change the culture in our schools.
    Thank you.
  • Healthy communities are positive communities. Where people are aware of the strengths and assets within the community.
    Social media to build a positive school culture. Share the amazing strengths found within every single school.
    Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blog
    10 Good Things to Talk About
    Sedin Story
    Social media to build a community. Aldergrove.
    What are you sharing? Is this building community?
  • Again.. Staff started to build confidence.
    Instead of me going searching for things to share, I would get invited in.. Or sent photos of the wonderful learning moments in the school.
    We shared online, we shared in staff meetings… and in the copy room.
  • What is ordinary to you…
    Often hear – what am I going to share that is worth sharing? Why don’t you find out?
    Moving schools has shown me that there are things that just happen at my former school and current school… and we think they happen everywhere.
    We often spend far too much time wondering if something is worthy of sharing… than time spent actually sharing.
  • Discuss
  • Create space, take a risk.
    As you likely have heard, students like Dom and Amy have had a huge impact on me as an educator.
    Amy’s advice to slow down, be interested, be interesting, and more random has stuck with me for 2 years now.
    Amy is still in school with similar struggles… but something changed a few months ago.
  • Slides will be up on my website.
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