Building Trust Between Staff and Admin

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building trust

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A common feeling among school leaders is a desire to connect with their staff and build trust and meaningful relationships.  

Virginia Williams, Possip reporter with a background in Elementary Education & Special Education, shares ideas to foster the trust of your staff.  

By getting “in the trenches”, assuming the best in others, and creating opportunities to receive and respond to feedback, school leaders can establish and maintain strong relationships with staff which ultimately contributes to a positive staff culture and a thriving school community.  

Get in the Trenches

I once heard the CEO of a large organization say that he’d never ask his staff members to do something that he wasn’t also willing to do. This attitude is one of humility and inspires humility in others as well. Step into the uncomfortable, model humility and be willing to make mistakes if you want your staff to do the same. For example, if you’re encouraging staff members to use a certain teaching strategy or classroom management tool, get in a classroom and model it for them! 

Assume the Best

When providing feedback to staff, always assume the best. Give the benefit of the doubt and seek to understand.  For example, if you notice a staff member looking at her cell phone during instructional time, rather than immediately reprimanding them, assume she is responding to a student’s parent about an urgent matter or perhaps dealing with her own emergency.   

Start feedback conversations about such incidents with neutrality and “I notice” statements.  For example, “I noticed you had your cell phone out during your lesson today.  Was everything okay?  Can you tell me about that?”  Staff members need to believe that you’re their biggest cheerleader!  Assuming the best in them before jumping to conclusions or critiquing behavior will help your staff members feel that you believe in them and are rooting for their success.  As a result, they will receive feedback with greater humility and an open mind.

Listen and Respond

Lastly, create opportunities for your staff to give YOU feedback as well. Possip Staff Pulse Checks® are the perfect way to open lines of communication. We have found that staff members are more likely to respond anonymously than families in Pulse Checks. To that end, make sure that you are providing a way for staff members to feel safe to express their honest opinions.

Furthermore, once you receive feedback from your staff, respond to it. Reassure staff that you’ve heard them and will take any necessary action. Demonstrate your willingness to change what you can based on the needs your staff expresses. For more on this topic, check out The Building Block of Successful Schools: Trust.  Additionally, here is some information about Possip Staff Pulse Checks as well as some ideas for Bonus Questions you can ask. 

We hope you didn’t miss our event, Sustaining Strong Schools: Strategies for Teacher and Staff Retention, which took place on Thursday, December 7th, 2023 from 11 – 12 PM CT. If you did, don’t worry! You can still catch the recap here.

This one-hour session will explore the top concerns and trends we’ve seen in staff feedback. We’ll dive into when in the year those trends escalate so that you can better anticipate the needs and concerns of your staff. You’ll leave with practical, implementable ideas to fuel your team’s satisfaction and commitment to your school.