Creating Great Staff Culture for Educators

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The text, "Cultures that Recruit, Retain and Empower Educators" next to people sitting on and standing next to puzzle pieces. One Black man, one brown woman, one white woman, and one white man.

Our partners and other organizational leaders learned how to recruit, retain, and grow their teams. Keep reading for a summary of our POWER CONNECT event, Cultures that Recruit, Retain and Empower Educators.

Last week we hosted a special event focused on two topics we are passionate about – building a great organization and staff culture. We were excited to have the perfect guest to explore this with, the CEO of Noodles & Company, Dave Boennighausen. The event was full of insights! Here are a few favorites we (Caitlin and Jasmine) noticed.

Always Be Closing 

Alec Baldwin says it best, “A. B. C. Always Be Closing,” in Glengarry Glen Ross, a movie the Noodles & Company CEO, Dave Boennighausen, and our CEO, Shani Dowell, watched in business school at Stanford. This phrase speaks to the idea of focusing on the outcome. Shani once said to me, “Central to leadership is being able to identify the desired outcome, inspiring others, and removing barriers towards that future state. Being able to do that while building stronger, long-term relationships along the way is critical.”

‘Always Be Closing’ in regards to staffing is the mindset that you are always recruiting, looking, and open to talented people that will shape your organization. Not only are you always looking to recruit great people, you are always looking to retain great people, and to create succession plans.

Help your team believe that great people know great people.

Authentic Praise is Great Branding 

At our last POWER CONNECT, Monchiere’ Holmes-Jones, the CEO and Founder of MOJO Marketing + PR shared

“Authentic community and culture arise when people are presented with opportunities to express and celebrate themselves.”

Take the time and energy to share authentic praise from and for your team! Partners share praise through staff newsletters, emails, or social media. (For example, here’s a feature we did on Inglewood Elementary’s way of doing this). At Noodles & Company, they have a newsletter called “Life at Noodles” and recognition boards at every restaurant because their core values are “We Care” and “Loving Life.” 

Sharing praise contributes to staff culture and becomes a way of being within your organization! It’s a way of branding your organization as a place where great people are doing great work.

Sharing out praise helps with recruitment and enrollment. 

Get Curious About Staff Culture

Get curious about who’s in your talent pool and how you are going to spend time with them. Ask your teachers to participate in recruiting. As Shani puts it, “Lean into your champions and see how you can multiply their power.”

For example, involve people on the team in the interviewing process. At Possip, a tech developer might interview a reporting lead or outreach lead. This type of inclusivity in the interviewing process helps us share a variety of perspectives and spot things that might stand in the way of equity. Similarly, Dave says Noodles & Company trains their team on the interview process.“For us, a significant part of this is breaking down stereotypes and preconceived notions on who a strong candidate is.” 

Get curious about the staff culture people want to be a part of! Allow current teachers’ input on the culture your organization is creating. In other words, have your ear to the street. Ask your team questions about the brand they and other people want to be associated with. 

Flatten the Hierarchy

Informal and formal systems for sharing are also a way to flatten the hierarchy and they give people opportunities to rise in leadership. Create a culture where feedback can come from anyone no matter their level of experience or background. Have standing channels for sharing and routinely prompt people to share. In an organization where you’re actively leveling the field – or flattening the hierarchy – you are “calling up” new teachers to feel empowered to share what they are learning or experimenting with. 

Wait, There’s More

This hardly summarizes all the great conversations we had with Dave Boennighausen, CEO of Noodles & Company! Check out Part II of our event recap (coming soon) for the big ideas Dave and Shani explored in conversation, and watch the event recording here.

Pssst… view this blog if you are looking for some Bonus Questions related to building strong teams and cultures.

Written by Caitlin Churchill & Jasmine Blue, Possip Experience & Support Team.