If you work at Michaela, it would not be unusual to get an email like this from the Head:
Today is Thursday. Before the end of the week, you must say something to someone that you would not have otherwise said. Start with, ‘So Katharine said that I should say, so I’m saying it…’
And then the email will remind them to give themselves a star on the Candour Start Chart in the staff room and to give a star to the person with whom they’ve been candid.
Wherever you work, I guarantee there will be misunderstandings and miscommunication. I guarantee people around you will do things that will make you raise an eyebrow. It is the nature of working with others. So if you want your organisation to run well, you need to address the issue of candour, or the lack of it will CRUSH your organisation.
I think staff probably think, ‘Oh no… here she goes again…’ when they get emails like this from me. But they do as I ask and they raise all sorts of grievances with their colleagues as a result. What happens next? The grievance gets resolved. No one feeling awkward about stuff, wishing they had said something but never quite mustering up the nerve.
The Headmistress at Michaela never gets any stars on the chart. And that’s because she is always candid. Hard to take? Perhaps. But people get used to it.
That’s why our so-called ‘PM Management meetings’ with me tend to go like this:
ME: “Is there anything that we could do to support you better?”
STAFF: “Well no, because had there been, I would have told you.” Pause. “So is there something I should be doing differently?”
ME: “Er…No. Of course you would already know if that were the case…”
See my last post on abolishing targets. You should only abolish targets in a culture of candour. When everyone speaks freely to each other, then you don’t need the tick box exercises that pretend to improve people when in fact they only make an organisation feel as if that’s what it is doing.
Every half term, the top 3 star earners on the chart get a reward of chocolate in front of the whole staff and a clap. Hurrah for speaking your mind! Hurrah for the bravery, for the honesty, for putting the success of the school and the children above your own feelings of awkwardness. Hurrah for being candid!
Candour creates a culture of trust. And a culture of trust allows you to abandon all the nonsense that wastes teacher time, like targets, PRP, book looks and marking. Oh, and all the crazy data input… There is so much I could write about!
All a load of nonsense if you ask me.
That’s why I don’t get stars for being candid.
I just can’t help it. 🙂