What is a 100% Culture?


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined, episode number 201.

Welcome to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast...

where we rethink what's possible to transform your school. If you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement, then stay tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now, here's your host, Robyn Jackson.

Hey, builders, welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson.

And today, we're going to continue the conversation that we started last time. So if you haven't listened to Episode 200, yet, then you need to go back and listen to it. Because today we're going to continue that conversation. So last time, we talked about the five types of cultures that are typically seen in most schools and, and you had an opportunity to kind of identify what kind of culture you had. And then at the end of that episode, we talked about how none of those cultures is good enough. None of those cultures is going to get you to 100%. The only culture that will get you to 100% is 100% culture. And so today, I'd like to share with you what 100% culture looks like. And my hope is that after hearing that, you'll you'll start to think you know, what, we need to do some things to adjust our culture, we need to, to stop having this good enough culture and really focus on building a 100% culture, because that's the only kind of culture that you can have that will actually move your school forward.

Now, before I jump in to those characteristics, I do have something really cool to share with you. I talked about it last time, but I am going to be shooting a new course for builders University. So as you know, build a ship University is our private community, and mentorship where I am mentoring principals to help them achieve their 100% vision. And so we're filming a new course inside of builder ship University called Building a Culture focus on 100% success, as we're calling it the culture here or building a culture that focuses on 100% success. And so in that course, I'm going to be breaking down the exact steps that you need to take in order to build 100% culture. And the closer we get to filming, the more I begin to dread it because I love teaching this information. But it's really hard to do that for the length of time that the course is going to take when it's just me talking to a camera and a crew. I mean, it gets old really fast. And so we thought, hey, why not invite people to join us live. And so you don't have to be a member of Bill to ship University to join us for the live filming. If you join us live, you will be able to experience that entire course, absolutely free. And what I get out of the deal is I get a live audience. So it's not live in person. It's live on Zoom. But because you know that inside of our builders ship University studio, I have all of these monitors all over the place. So I can actually see you I can see your reaction in between takes, we can kind of talk, you get an opportunity to have a behind the scenes glimpse of what it looks like you're gonna see me I mean, it's real, we're going to be filming. So I'm going to be messing up. But I'll also be teaching some of the best stuff I've ever taught. Because this is really the nitty gritty for how you can take whatever kind of culture you have right now and turn it into a 100% culture, turn it into a culture where everybody is focused on 100% success. 

So if you want to join me, then look out for your email because if you're already you know on the email mailing list for this podcast, then we're going to be sending out an email to everybody on that list to give them first opportunity to join. So if you're not already on the mailing list, then you need to go to school leadership reimagined.com and join the mailing list and that way you'll get first dibs and then if we don't fill things up through the podcast listeners, then we'll open it up to everybody and so you'll see you'll get an opportunity to join the course. So you want to go to school leadership reimagined.com And and make sure you're signed up for the mailing list. And then stay tuned, we're going to be sending you a link so that you can join that this is not like, you know, this is not like a fancy, you know, big thing that we're launching, this really is just so we're, we don't even have the link yet. So we're gonna get the link to you, in a couple of weeks, right before the course, just so that you can join the zoom, if you you can also get the link if you're a part of the school leadership reimagined Facebook group. So we're just going to put a zoom link out, we'll give you the dates and times and the topics. And then if you can't make all the dates and times, we're going to give you an opportunity to watch the replay, it's only going to be available for a day, right, so I'll shoot the course we'll get the replay up as quickly as possible. And then we're taking it down the next day. 

Because remember, this is a course that's going behind the walls of build a ship University, it's not a publicly available course. But we want to you know, if you're gonna you're doing me a huge favor by coming and showing up live, I mean, that that's where I really need you, I need you live. So that, you know, I can talk to you we can I have that interactivity that energy that comes from having a live audience. So, you know, please sign up, please show up live. Oh, the other thing that I'm going to be doing is just to kind of sweeten the deal a little bit. And because you, you know, you gave up time during your day to show up live not only you're gonna get the content, but I'm going to build in some time every single day to answer questions, to do hot seats and coach you on helping you kind of untangle your current school culture and figure out what you need to do to implement what you're learning in the course. And to give you some real time support and coaching and it's unless you're in builder should be University, that's really the only way that you can get coaching for me. So please look out for that, it's going to be happening in a couple of weeks, put it you know, start looking out for that. And when it happens, I'd love to spend some time with you live, and you would be doing me a huge favor as well.

Alright, so there's more details of that coming. Let's get into what a 100% culture is it I asked on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, what it what 100% culture meant to you. Several people were kind enough to respond. But the answers were kind of all over the place. And I realized that, that a lot of times we don't talk about 100% culture we take the culture that we have, if it isn't toxic, we think well, it's not toxic. So it must be okay. Yeah, me sure we can tweak it here and then. But we never think about deliberately engineering, a culture where everybody, everybody in the school, from the main office secretaries, to your teachers and instructional assistants to your guidance counselor's every adult who interacts with a child in your school is focused on 100% success. They're focused on helping every child succeed. And a lot of people don't even believe that that kind of culture is possible.

I want you to know that not only is it possible, it's necessary. 

You know, we were in inside of build a ship University last week, and we were doing every quarter we do a we plan for the next quarter. So we do two day sprint, we call it a sprint. And we get together over the course of two evenings an hour a day. So you know, like we might do like a Tuesday and a Wednesday and our Tuesday and our Wednesday. And we get together and we go through this process to help us think through the last quarter, understand the challenges that we're facing, and try to identify the one thing that if we were to address in the next quarter, would make the biggest difference for our kids. And then we develop a quarterly plan. Anyway, we were we were talking in that quarter. And there was somebody there who's been a part of Bill to ship University for a while. And she was just saying how this works, you know that when she started out her school was about to be taken over by the state. And now these years later, not only has she gotten out of state takeover, but she's skipped a couple of steps to get out of state takeover because her school is thriving so well. And now her school has just gotten a rating where they're in regular standard good and regular standing. And she's not finished yet. When she started she inherited a horrible, toxic culture. And now her culture she can honestly say everybody in our culture is focused on 100% success for students. 

Other people who are we're just starting out this process inside of builder ship University said the same thing they are by sharing their vision and using the strategies that they're learning assignable to ship University. They are building cultures where everybody is focused on 100% and it's blowing them away. Somebody said the other day I don't even know if I can trust this because this this it's almost feels too good. To be true, and yet, I, you know, when I go to my faculty meetings now and I'm talking about 100% success, nobody has their phone out. Everybody's excited. Everybody's paying attention, everybody's focused. That's happening right now in schools just like yours. So I want to get rid of this foolishness that you can't build 100% culture, you absolutely can. And that's one of the reasons why I'm doing the course because I want to break it down those steps, and make sure that that those steps are really clear, but you absolutely can. Alright, so let's talk about what does 100 person culture even look like? Okay, so the first thing that well, there are four characteristics of 100% culture. And the first characteristic of 100% culture is that 100% culture has what I call clarity. What that what I mean by that is that in 100%, culture, every single person in the building knows exactly where you're headed. They know what 100% success looks like, they can tell you your vision, you know, a lot of schools you go into, and you walk up to three different people, and you say, what's the vision or the mission or the core values of the school? And you will get three different answers? Or if you do get the same answer that same answer is, I don't know. And that's because in a lot of schools, we think the vision is obvious and clear, but it just isn't. 

In 100% culture. If you go to anybody, any student, any parent, any teacher, a pair, educator, main office, Secretary, bus driver, you're going to get the same answer. Everybody knows what the vision is. And here's why that's so powerful. You see, if people can't tell you what the vision what the mission, what the core values are in the organization, then how do you even know they're working towards it? They don't even know what it is, how can they work towards it? In 100% culture, not only does everybody understand what your vision is, they can say it. They, they they know your mission, they know your core values, but they are living every day, by your vision, mission and core values. That's why they can tell you because it's real, it's alive in your school. Imagine how different your school would be, if everybody in your school was was focused on your vision, mission and core values. They knew what they were, they were clear about what they meant. Here's the other problem. Schools, a lot of schools have visions that even if I recited it to you, I still don't know what it means. You know, we I, you've heard me talk about, you know, vision statement bingo, where the vision says, we create lifelong learners who are equipped to deal with a 21st century world and navigated and honors diversity and blah, blah, blah, I have no idea what that means. And so if you have one of these vague visions, even if everybody knows what that vision is, and can recite it, it's still not clear. Because for every person who knows your vision, that person has their own interpretation of your vision, and they think they're working towards your vision. And in reality, they may be working in in a completely other direction than your vision. But because your vision is so vague, and and unclear, how do you know. So the first characteristic of 100% culture is everybody knows your vision mission, and your core values. They understand what they what those three things mean. And they all have the same understanding of your vision, mission and core values. The second characteristic of a 100% culture is that not only do you have a culture that has clarity, but you also have a culture that is cohesive, it means that everybody is working together. 

And a lot of schools you go into you have islands of excellence, right? 

So there might be this great classroom over here. And this other classroom that's struggling over here, you might have, you know, this group of Team groups of team members who work great over here, but they don't get along with the rest of the school and they really kind of are isolated, they kind of do their own thing. When you have a 100% culture, you don't have islands of excellence. Everybody's working together. Everybody's growing. Everybody is becoming Excellent. people collaborate and it's not just lets you know sit in a room and all plan together. I call you know, Piaget calls that parallel play. I think it's Piaget a lot of schools, they are they are not really co planning. They're just all in a room planning at the same time, but everybody's doing their own thing. But in a 100% culture, everybody is collaborating together for the good of kids and 100% culture. Everybody get it's not just that they get along, right because there are a lot of cultures you know, like you might have a culture where oh my god, my staff is like my family and everybody gets along. But they, you know, when you create that family dynamic, you also bring in a lot of the dysfunctions that happen in families to that culture, right. 

So I'm not talking about cohesiveness that everybody gets along, and everybody's a family, because who wants the dysfunction of your family at work, right, you want something stronger than that. And that's why, in 100% culture, it's not about everybody getting along. It's about people being cohesive. Everybody knows the role and understands the role. Everybody's working together smoothly to make sure that you are achieving your vision, mission and core values, everybody's headed in the same direction, and everybody is contributing, and building. Even if you have a struggling teacher, that teacher is now struggling to get better. Even if you have people who may not like each other as human beings, they respect each other as CO laborers in this work to move all kids towards success. And so cohesion, Trump's family cohesion, Trumps a lot of these other things that we think we want, because it's not just about everybody getting along, it's about everybody coming together for a common purpose, and working diligently supporting each other, helping each other for that common purpose. So 100% cultures have clarity. 100% cultures have cohesion. And the third thing that 100% cultures have is competence. And when I say competence, you might be thinking about loving, 100 person, culture is full of teachers who are excellent teachers. Now, there are some cultures where teachers aren't excellent yet, but the culture works together, they're still able to accomplish something, even if everybody isn't at the top of their game yet. Everybody is working diligently towards getting better and better and better for the service of kids. But in 100%, culture, you see progress before things are perfect. And that's really, really important. Because a lot of people think I can't do anything, because I have teachers who are uncertified, I can't do anything, because I have a whole bunch of new teachers, or I can't do anything, because I have teachers who are struggling right now. And you feel like you have to wait until you have the perfect staff, or the perfect situation before you can move forward. 

But 100% culture makes progress, even if they're not perfect. And the reason they're able to do that is because they have systems in place that make them competent, they're not relying on individual talent, to move their vision forward, they put systems in place, so that no matter who you have in the system, because the system is competent, the organization is competent, and it makes other people competent. You've heard me talk about this before how you know, in the fast food model, they are able to take you know teenagers, many of for many of whom this is their first job. And they're able to take those teenagers and help them create a consistently good meal at a fast food restaurant. Because the the the teenagers are the quality of the meal is not reliant on the talent of the teenagers. And teenagers go into a system that works. And that's what creates the competence. Now, I know that a school is not a fast food restaurant. So I'm using that as an illustration. But the principle is the same. When you have an a 100% culture, you create competence in the organization, so that no matter who comes to work in your school, they are able to produce results in kids. One of the reasons why anvil district University we have this whole level that's just focused on putting systems in place is because the better your systems, the better your staff, even if you have really good staff members, these systems are going to make them better. And when you have struggling staff members, the systems compensate, that give the staff members the support and the scaffolds that they need to hit a baseline of competence, even if their skill hasn't caught up to that baseline yet. And so that's what makes these kinds of culture is so powerful, and it's what helps your culture make progress early to see wins early, because you're not waiting for everybody to get themselves together before you can actually see a win. You can see a win right now. And that's why I love 100% cultures. And that's why it's really critical for you to have one and build one if you don't have one. Because if you don't do that, then you can't get to 100% You can't even get Started in many cases, alright, so 100% culture has clarity, it has cohesion, it has competence. And the last one, and this is really important 100% culture has confidence. If you go to a lot of schools, and they they pay lip service to every kid can be successful. But you know, in their hearts, they don't really believe it. They don't really believe that they, that school, that staff, that group of people, they don't believe that they will actually achieve 100% success for students.

And if you don't believe it, then it will impact your behavior. 

If you don't believe it, then the moment something tough happens, the moment you hit a speed bump, you'll just stop being I'll see here I told you, it never was going to work anyway. Oh, and then you just you, you go back to doing what you were doing before. If you don't believe it, you'll start making excuses for why some kids failed. Instead of going in and doing doing an autopsy and figuring out why that didn't work and fixing it so that you never ever fail another kid. If your culture is lacking confidence, you often don't trust your teachers, you don't have confidence that your staff will continue to do the work even when you're not looking. But in 100% culture, you can trust your teachers, you have confidence in them, you know that even if you're not in the building, your staff will continue to work. One of the things that gave me goosebumps recently was I was talking to one of the builders inside of builders University. And she had a really tough health diagnosis. And she had to be out for a couple of, of weeks to do to take care of her health. And one of the things that she said was that it was so much easier going through this really tough health situation, because I knew that my staff was going to, they weren't going to let the ball drop, I had confidence in my staff. And they kept telling me you go, we've got this, we know where we're headed, we're not going to let the vision die. And she was able to step away and take care of herself and come back, and her school was still moving forward, even without her. That's 100% culture, anything less, and everything relies on you. And anything less, and you can't leave, you can't step away, you're carrying everything. And, quite frankly, it's why so many of us are exhausted because we don't have 100% cultures yet. And so we are driving all the work. When you have 100% culture, you don't have to be the only one driving, everybody is driving, you have confidence that that your staff and your team can and will do the work and you're you're spending your time doing the work that only you can do, which is minding the vision, keeping the you know, making sure you're setting the direction, making sure that you're supporting people in building other builders in your building. So I'm hoping that by hearing all of this today, you can see why it is so critical to have a 100% culture. Because if you don't have clarity, then what you end up with is a lot of confusion. And maybe that confusion is is loud and overt. You know, you've got infighting and people pushing back and nobody knowing what they're doing. And, and and you've got, you know, kind of all this nonsense going on. But sometimes that confusion is more subtle. And you have people who are sincerely trying to reach your vision, but because they don't understand what it is or they it's open to interpretation. They're doing what they think is the right thing, but it may not be the actual right thing for your school. 

So that's why 100% culture has clarity.

Because without it, you end up with confusion, you know, 100% culture, the reason that it's so important to have cohesion, because without it you have conflict, and maybe that conflict is over. You've got people fighting and, and pushing back and arguing. But sometimes that conflict is covert. It's that passive aggressive resistance. It's people just kind of slowing down. It's people who really, you know, don't all always support and believe in what you're doing and they slow walk you and so regardless of that, without the cohesion, you will face conflict and that gets in the way of you're moving towards your goal, you know, so without that clarity and cohesion and then that competence without that competence. The best you can hope for is compliance. If your organization is not good and has systems in place to help people get better and to build competence if the school itself, the organization itself is not competent, the best you can hope for is that people will just comply to whatever role or program or initiative is the is the initiative or program or rule does your the rule of the month rule of the day. So that leaves you vulnerable to every new initiative and it leaves you vulnerable to burn out, it leaves you vulnerable to, to what I call, initiative, Whiplash, where, you know, one minute you're doing this, and the next minute you're doing that, because your organization doesn't have a set of systems in place that you can rely on. And then if your organization doesn't have the confidence, you don't believe in your people, your people don't believe in the process, then what you create a cynicism. People say, we've heard this before, we'll hear it again. We tried this before, it didn't work. Now we're trying something else. And that cynicism can be overt, where you just get a whole bunch of backtalk. Or it can be covert, it can be in the hearts of your people where they don't give their full effort, because they don't really have a confidence in you and the process and or in themselves to believe that they can do it. Yes, they want to. But without that competence, you leave room for cynicism. 

And so if after hearing this today, you're saying, You know what, you're right. We do need 100% culture. I want a culture like that. And maybe you're still feeling like, Yeah, but Robin, I don't even know that that's possible. That feels so pie in the sky, and you haven't met the teachers that I'm working with. And you haven't heard the way they talk about me. And you haven't heard the way they talk in staff meetings and PLCs. And you haven't seen the way they talk to kids. So, you know, that sounds really good. And I do have that with my core team. But there's some teachers I still need to get rid of, or, or it's really hard to do that when I have high turnover, or I have all these vacancies. And how am I going to build a solid culture when I'm filling my vacancies with warm bodies instead of with people who if I could just find those kinds of people, maybe then I get built that kind of culture. So if that's how you're feeling today, I want you to stay tuned, because we're going to address some of those objections in the next episode. And then, once we've done that, I'm going to invite you again to join me because I'm teaching a new course is going to show you exactly how you can make this happen, no matter what kind of culture you have in your school right now. So if this sounds good to you, this, if this is speaking to your soul, I want you to know that help is on the way. And over the next several weeks, we're going to dive deep into this, because this 100% culture is critical. And and I'll tell you, I'll be honest with you, I was talking to a principal recently, and she was talking about the difference that building this 100% culture has made in her school. And she said, You know, I used to hate going to work, I used to get a knot in my stomach every day go into work. Because I knew that the moment I walked through that door, I was going to be hit with one conflict after another one challenge after another one problem after another. I was just tired. And I could see that my teachers were getting more and more cynical. Even the ones who usually aren't that way. Maybe they were burned out. I don't know. But since I started building 100% culture, she said it's the feeling of a school is different. She said when I walk in every day, I'm excited to be at work. The work still hard. Yes, there. We still have challenges. Yes. But everybody's kind of on the same page now. And we all just when a challenge comes it doesn't default deflate us, we didn't defeat us we we were able to work together to figure it out. And then we can trust each other. And I had now believe I used to say it before I didn't. I didn't really mean it. But I thought I did. But now I know. We're going to get to our 100% vision. We've got work to do. Yes, but I now believe it. 

That's what 100% culture can do for you. 

I mean, she said that I begin to adjust my heart left inside of me because because that is what it will do for you. When you have that 100% culture. There are all of these tangible and intangible shifts in your school and the work feels better. It's not magic doesn't mean that everything goes away but you feel different. The work feels different. And the results are different. Because that's what happens when you Create a 100% culture like a builder. 

I'll talk to you next time.

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at builder ship University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Inside. You'll find our best online courses, live trainings with me tons of resources, templates and exemplars and monthly live office hours with me where you can ask me anything and get my help on whatever challenge you're facing right now. If you're tired of hitting obstacle after obstacle and you're sick of tiny little incremental gains each year, if you're ready to make a dramatic difference in your school right now, then you need to Join builders ship University.

 Just go to buildershipuniversity.com and get started writing your school success story today.

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