Headteachers need to ensure they have a strong, positive school culture in order to prevent an “exodus” of good staff as life returns to normal, headmaster Michael Bond was due to tell the AMCIS annual conference today.
Speaking to an audience of more than 200 of the independent school sector’s admissions, marketing and communications professionals, the headmaster of Brentwood School will say that developing a strong organisational culture is more important than ever, as people reassess their careers post-Covid.
He will say: “One of the questions with which we’re all grappling is the extent to which the pandemic has led or will lead to permanent change.”
He will say that some believe all but the most operational changes made as a result of Covid will evaporate “almost as quickly as they were incorporated” while others think that the Covid years have been an opportunity to make lasting changes that would have been unlikely otherwise.
He will add: “One thing we should all be considering is the idea that when things begin to return to normal, companies will see an exodus of employees who now feel secure enough to change jobs.”
Quoting management theorist Peter Drucker’s phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, he will say that a strong school culture, with “buy in” from the whole school community, can help to prevent an employee exodus as well as contribute to the success of long-term strategic planning and marketing:
“No matter how strong your strategic plan is, it won’t be effective – or at least not as effective – if those who work in your organisation don’t share your values, aspirations and vision.
“If your colleagues aren’t passionate about your school’s vision, they won’t be enthusiastic about executing the plan to achieve it, which means your strategy stands no chance of being successful. And organisational culture happens, whether you work on it or not. It’s at the core of every school and workplace and most of it is created by leaders – sometimes, and perhaps quite often, unknowingly. The actions of leaders speak louder than their words in the process of culture creation.”
Mr Bond will quote a recent Microsoft survey which showed that 41 per cent of workers were considering quitting their jobs or changing professions this year. Another survey by career site Monster has found that 95 per cent of workers are currently considering changing jobs and 92 per cent are willing to switch industries to land a new position.
He will say that school leaders need to “step up” because, for many, the desire to leave their workplace will be driven by the lack of a sense of engagement or fulfilment at work:
“Whatever the reason, more people want to feel valued and connected to what they’re doing. And those who lead schools need to step up to that responsibility by redoubling their efforts on organisational culture. In short, we need our schools to be the ones to which people come during what has been called “The Great Resignation”.
During his presentation, Mr Bond will discuss what he considers to be the five theoretical ingredients of a healthy organisational culture, together with five practical tips to help establish and maintain it.
On adopting workplace theories and practices from “big business” to help build a strong school culture, Michael Bond says:
“Schools should acknowledge and embrace positive lessons from other businesses and organisations. We are communities first and foremost, but we are also charities and businesses and we’re foolish if we think we can’t learn from organisations that have been doing this for years. We can take the bits that are useful to us and use and adapt them for our own school environments.”