Two Strategies for Building the Best Staff

People will make or break an organization. As a leader, you have a say in who gets a seat at the table. So how do you make sure that each person you have is the best person for their position and for your team?

via Nguyen Hung Vu @ Flickr Creative Commons

via Nguyen Hung Vu @ Flickr Creative Commons

One of my core values is simplification. In a world where very little is black or white, it keeps me anchored. So out of all the tips and tricks I could give you about building the best staff, I believe in these two the most.

1.  Hire the best people. When I sit in an interview with a person applying for a position, ANY POSITION, I look for a person that has the potential to take our school farther than we’ve been before. I don’t want a person who “fits in”. I want a person who has the potential to become excellent.

I want a teacher that is still eager to learn, yet has vision of doing greater things. I want teaching assistants with strengths that would complement the teacher’s weakness. I want cafeteria workers and custodians who take pride in their work regardless of the challenges that exist.

If you don’t hire the best people, it will no longer be a privilege to be a part of your team. Great people attract great people. Mediocre staff will always attract more mediocre staff.

2.  Improve the people you have. Although much more difficult, you must constantly improve the people already on staff. From your team star to the thorn in your side, as a leader, you must pull the best from each person.

This doesn’t mean that every person will be producing at the same level. In fact, you may have some that really struggle while others are improving by leaps and bounds. The big question to ask yourself is whether each staff member is willing to learn. If someone is willing to learn, I am hardly ever inclined to let them go. Only if I see that they have no desire or intention to improve, will I lose no sleep over handing them their walking papers.

Provide room for risk-taking

Whether you’re hiring new staff or improving the ones you already have, be sure to give them permission to “fail forward”. If they fear repercussion from you every time they fail, they’ll never attempt anything bold or great.

Encourage them to set high learning objectives for their students. This will require you to be flexible throughout the year as students move in and out; as students become identified with special needs; as the unpredictable occurs. The courage to risk rises and falls on their faith in the leader.

Question: What other strategies for building the best staff would you add to this list? Have you done anything unique?

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