People Hire for Skill and Fire for Will


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You're listening to the school leadership reimagined podcast, episode 71.

Welcome to the school leadership re-imagined podcast where we rethink what's possible to transform your school if you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement than stayed 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 re-imagined podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And today I have another Mindsteps-ism for you it's hiring season. And although hiring may not be the thing that it's at the top of mind for many of us right now, we all are going to be facing some vacancies. We were going to have to make some decisions about staffing in the next couple of weeks. And the question comes, how do you know whether that person who has a great resume, who is great in the interview? How do you know if that person is actually going to be a good fit for your school? I see a lot of questions showing up on social media right now, asking what interview questions do you ask, or, you know, how do you screen candidates and, and all of those questions sound great, but the, there is no guarantee that that person who is great in the interview or who has a great resume or who taught an amazing model lesson is actually going to be a person who's right for your culture.

Will that person come into your culture and fit in or, or will that person come into your culture and bring a whole bunch of toxicity that you didn't detect during the interview, will that great person come in and, and be a good fit for your students and connect with your kids or, or will that great person come in and start blaming the kids for all of the things that are wrong with your school, will that great person take direction? Will that great person be a good team player? Will that great person innovate or will that great person be satisfied with the status quo? Those are the questions that a lot of you are asking yourself right now. And today I want to talk about a hiring process that you can use so that you can avoid making a hiring decision that you will regret. But before we dive into that, I need to talk to you about builders lab.

I am so excited about builders lab 360. 

We just opened up ticket sales last week. We're already about a quarter of the way full. I don't know we may sell out of this one. Maybe we'll see, but I'm hoping we do, because I think now more than ever, you need what we're talking about it, but it'll just lap. If you have been struggling to navigate your school through this crisis, if the uncertainty about the days ahead is starting to feel a little overwhelming. You need to come builder's lab because at builder's lab, we start with developing your vision, mission and core values. And if you already have them great, we'll help you refine them. But that's the first step. You gotta have a clear vision, a clear mission and clear core values, or you won't be able to deal with the changing the rapidly changing times that we're facing.

So we get you rooted in that and we're not satisfied. And so you have one that you're excited about that gets you up every day, that that gives you clarity about what exactly you should be doing. Once you have that clear vision, mission, and core values, all of those decisions that you're having to make become a lot easier. You know what to do. You're not floundering and trying to figure it out, or, or you're not the victim of circumstances. You can make good decisions when you have a clear vision, mission and core values. So we'll do that first. And then it builds this lab. We're going to show you how you get your people committed. So how do you take your staff? Many of whom are burned out, discouraged depressed overwhelmed, tired feeling some secondary and primary trauma.

How do you get that staff committed and excited about school?

Even if you don't know what school will look like. And then after we talk about how you get your people committed, we're going to help you figure out a pathway. There are a hundred different things that you could be doing right now, but which decision is the right decision for your school? Many people are trying to figure out, do we do blended learning? Do we do we do all remote learning? Do we do a modified schedule or do we do something else we haven't even thought about yet? Well, a builder's lab we're going to help you figure out what's the right decision for you. We're going to create your personalized builder's blueprint that contains your pathway for your school success story. And then the last thing we're going to do is then we're going to help you develop a 90 day plan. Now, the reason we focus on 90 day plans is because first of all, the human brain can only project about 90 days into the future.

And second of all, things are changing so rapidly that anything more than 90 days is a fool's errand. I mean, think about your strategic plan for the year before COVID-19 hit. That plan is garbage. So what we want to do is help you develop a plan that is, is, is clear enough that you can navigate the future, but flexible enough that you can also adjust as things change without having to abandon your plan altogether. That's what you're going to accomplish at builder's lab. And although we are going to be doing it in a virtual environment, rather than face to face, the environment is virtual, but the experience is real. Over those three days, you're going to get opportunities to work in small mentoring groups and get support. There you'll have an opportunity to get some one on one coaching. You'll be a part of the live training that I'm going to be doing.

We're building out a whole studio. 

So it's not just going to be me sitting at my desk in front of a zoom camera, marching you through my slides. We're building out an entire studio so that it can be a truly interactive experience. I promise you it's going to be unlike anything that you've ever experienced before. Whereas sending you a box, you know, you're going to get a builder's box with all of the materials you're going to need for each day of the, of the training so that you are, you have everything you need to be focused. I mean, there's so much, we are having so much fun with this, and it's really kind of transformed that builder's lab experience and just taken it up. It was already at a 10. Now it's at 1112. So if you want to get tickets to join us for builders lab three 60, all you need to do is go to Mindsteps inc com slash builders dash lab that's mindset, and get your ticket.

By the way, there are going to be no replays for builders lab three 60. You will need to be able to show up live for those three days. Because again, it's immersive, it's interactive. This is not a passive thing where you can just watch the repay play later on. This is something where you need to be there. And again, to get tickets mindset, The second thing I wanted to tell you about is the popup group is still going strong, but we only have about a month left in a popup group before we are closing it down. So if you want access to real training that it's addressing some of the big issues that you're facing right now, plus I'm doing office hours every week, where people are coming in and getting my one on one help on their challenges. And I'm doing a vision training each week to help you start to develop your school vision.

All those things are live. They're interactive. 

They're not something that I'm recording and putting up meaty, meaningful training inside of that community. We only have about a month left and then we're closing it down because it's a popup group. So we, you know, popped up during the beginning of the crisis, but you know, I've got some other things I've got to do. So we're going to have to close down the popup group in about a month, but there is still a chance for you to join and take advantage of these free resources people inside the popup group were saying, I cannot believe all of this is free. You cannot get unfettered, one-on-one support or small group support for me any other way, other than, than a popup group right now, or if you are one of our paid clients. So if you've ever wanted to work with me before, but you thought, Oh, you know, I can't afford to do it.

Well, this one's free. So all you need to do is go to mindset, And on that homepage, we have the link to get into the popup group. Now, if you click on that link and the popup group has gone, I'm sorry, you missed the opportunity, but I'm hoping that you will take advantage of it while it's still around. We're probably going to be up for another month and then we're closing down the popup group. So make sure you join. All right, let's talk about how you can avoid making a hiring decision that you will regret. You know, one of the things that I've always thought is weird about the way we hire in education is that, you know, people go into a hiring pool or, you know, there's some sort of, kind of general clearing house for where people are. We go in, we look at resumes, maybe we're the large district, maybe other schools were recruiting.

We're putting ads out. We're hoping that great people come in.

We interview people and then because school is starting and because we have to fill a position, we take the best of whatever we get. And we put them in a classroom and pray. It works. And I've seen this happen more than once where a school will hire somebody that looks like a great fit on paper. But when that person gets us out of the school culture, that person turns out to be a big mistake. It's not personal. I'm not saying that that person is a bad person, but that person is a bad fit for your organization. But now you're stock because maybe that person is proficient in the classroom. Maybe the person is doing what they shouldn't be doing in the classroom. So you're not going to evaluate them out, but that person is making it hard to come to work everyday and enjoy the work environment or that person is creating toxicity in your culture.

Or that person is not treating your students the way you want to see your students be treated, or they're not welcoming to your families or, or whatever it is. And I see this happening more often than not. And so it started making me think, remember, last time I talked about don't blame people, blame the process. It's not that the people are bad people. It's just that they are a bad fit for your school. And about to mine, something that we say a lot here at Mindsteps, which is that people tend to hire for skill, but fire for, well, I'll say that again, people tend to hire for skill, but they fire for well. And if that's true, we need a different hiring process. So what I want to share with you today are five tweaks that you can make to your hiring process so that you avoid the pitfall of hiring for skill.

Having somebody come into your school and wreak havoc on your school culture. ​

You didn't recognize it because you couldn't screen for it, or you wouldn't screen for it in your hiring process. Alright. So the first thing you need to do is you need to adjust your job posting. Typically, when we post jobs, we say, we need a science teacher. We need an English teacher certified in these areas. Or I need a first grade teacher certified in these areas and we kind of just give the basics. No, you need to write your job posting so that it attracts the right kind of people and it repels the wrong kind of people. So I might, instead of saying, looking for a second grade teacher, you know, or we'll say a dynamic second grade teacher, blah, blah, blah. Here's what I might say instead.

Do you love working with kids? Do you enjoy designing rigorous learning opportunities that take kids beyond the curriculum? Do you really have a good time planning lessons and unpacking standards? Is that your jam? Then you might be a good fit for our school. Notice a difference immediately. Somebody is saying unpacking standards out and enjoy that. They're not going to apply, but somebody who says, yeah, I like impacting standards. I mean, I don't like it necessarily. I mean, I'm not going to spend a weekend doing it, but yeah, I think it's important that we know our standards. So what you can do is you can change the job listing so that you are calling out to the right fit for your organization, but you're also repelling people who are the wrong fit. So certain people aren't even going to apply given your job listing.

The first thing, look at your job listing.

And instead of just the typical kind of, you know, name, rank and serial number kinds of job listings that we normally put out, put out a job listing, that it would attract the kind of person that you really want to attract for your school. So that's the first step. Secondly, you need to make sure that you rewrite your interview questions. Now I did a whole episode on interview questions. It's episode 10. So if you want to find that episode, go to school leadership re-imagined dot com slash episode 10, and you can find it there. Plus there's a download that comes with that episode with 20 interview questions that you should ask. But a lot of times we ask interview questions that don't tell us anything meaningful about the candidate. So we may ask a question, how might you handle a disciplinary situation or tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a parent and what did you learn from it?

You know, Oh, those are great, but I can prepare for that. I can write, you know, standard answers for that. What you want is to create interview questions that not only reveal how someone might respond to a particular situation, but also reveal their underlying core values. You see, when people come into your organization and their core values are at odds with your organizational core values, that's when the problems start. So what you want to be doing is writing interviews that screen for the core values that align with your core values as a school. So take a look at those interview questions, listen to episode 10, I go into way more detail about what those interview questions should look like. And I even include a few what I call Ninja tactics. There's a question that I include in that episode where I talk about it's a sneaky question, but it tells you so much about your candidates. That it's one that I try to use a variation of in every interview I've ever done. And it's amazing what happens when I do that. Okay. So the third thing that you need to do, if you want to see if somebody is going to be a good fit for your school is you don't need to be the only one interviewing them.

You need to include your colleagues in interviewing them. 

Now, I don't mean just creating an interview panel with, you know, some representatives from your school. If you're hiring a second grade teacher, the other second grade teachers need to be a part of that interview. If you're hiring a math teacher, you need to have some rank and file math teachers from the math department on that interview panel. And if you can't do that, then the second thing I would do is I would take the candidate for a walkthrough.

And I will casually introduce that candidate to some of the colleagues with whom they will be working. I would do that for two reasons. One, I want the candidate to see the caliber of teacher that we have in our school and who their colleagues will be. But I also want my colleagues to check out the candidates who, because they're the ones who are going to have to be working together closely. If a colleague see the candidate and they get a feeling, I want to know about it. If they see the candidate and they're like, Oh, I love her. I want to see that. I want to see how they interact. I want to see what their banter is going to look like. ​

These are people who are going to have to work together. 

So yes, you do want to be a part of that interview process yourself. You want to drive that yourself as a builder, you are looking for a certain kind of person, but I'm also looking to see how that person interacts with the rest of my staff. I might even walk around through with that person during lunchtime or recess time so that they can see our kids. And so I can see their visceral reaction to kids. I'm going to tell you a story. This is the truth. When I was an administrator, I remember walking a candidate through my school during lunchtime. And the candidate was looking at the kids in the lunchroom and the candidate has such a look of disgust on her face. Now my kids weren't bad at the lunch room, but whatever they were doing, she just wasn't having it. She didn't like it. And I thought this isn't going to be a good fit. So you want to see the candidate in the environment.

A lot of times interviews happen, offsite or interviews are very sterile. Many of us are doing interviews via zoom right now because of social distancing guidelines. It's hard to interview people face to face. And in that situation, what I would do is I would invite other colleagues on for a informal kind of chat. These are, this is the second grade team we're looking for a second grade teacher, and here are the other second grade teachers. I thought it'd be good for you all to meet, to talk for them to ask questions. You know, I just want to see if they're going to be a good fit that way. The fourth thing that you need to do when you are looking for the right candidate is that you need to screen for your school core values, everything you do, every part of the interview process should be focused on.

Does this person have core values that align with our core values? 

Can our core values become non-negotiable for the person? Now I wouldn't do that by asking, I wouldn't say, Hey, these are our three core values. Are these non-negotiable to you? I wouldn't do that because people can lie people in like, you know, give you the miss America answers. Your first core value is that drama free work environment. And I too believe in a drama free work environment. You don't want those kinds of answers. Instead, I will be looking for signs of drama in how we arrange the interview process. I would now, again, this is the sneaky Ninja part of it. I might even design the interview process to see if I can spark drama in the person. For instance, I might set a date for the interview process and then call them and say, I'm sorry, something has come up.

Can you come 15 minutes after what I said you would be doing that the person starts giving me a whole bunch of drama about a 15 minute shift in the time that may not be a person who's going to be a right fit for our organization. If I'm truly focused on a core value of a drama free work environment maybe you have a core value of grit and tenacity. So maybe I create an online application process with some sort of intentional glitch that people have to show tenacity about getting through that glitch in order to be able to submit their application. So the people who, some of their applications are the ones who are already demonstrating grit and tenacity. If they're calling the school and whining about this, isn't working, then maybe they're not a good fit because they haven't been able to figure it out.

Surface the behaviors that will tell you whether or not this person is going to be a good fit.

If I had a core value of we've got each other's back, then I might ask them to do something, to get somebody back right there in the interview process and see if they do it. Or I might ask them about a time when you jumped in and helped a colleague get a colleague's back. And if they can't think of anything, they may not be a good fit. So what you want to do is you want to intentionally create an entire process that under the surface is showing you who that person really is. And again, that could be in how you design the process so that you're surfacing certain behaviors or checking to see if certain negative behaviors are there.

Maybe it's the way that you structure your interview questions. But the idea is that you want to see, does this person see our core values as non negotiable, or can they see our core values as non negotiable? Another thing I want to do is I want to share with them the vision for the school. And I want to gauge the reaction. If my vision is a hundred percent of our kids will have algebra by eighth grade. And if I share that with them and they say, well, not every kid's going to get to algebra by eighth grade, not a fit, because if they can't believe in the vision for the school, they're never going to be a good fit for our school. So I want to test that out in the interview process. I also want to talk about the mission. I want to talk about the mission and why the vision is so important.

Remember, the mission explains why the vision is so important and I want to gauge their reaction. 

Are they chiming in and saying, I've love that because I believe in that too. Or they listening politely and say, and trying to think about what their answer to the next question is going to be. If my mission doesn't get them excited, they're probably not going to be a good fit. All right. The last thing I want to talk about is the followup sequence, because here is where you can really start to tell something about a person. You think people get geared up and they're on their best behavior during the interview, but how they behave in the followup sequence can tell you things that maybe you didn't see in the interview. So the first thing is every single candidate. I want to follow up with a call and I want to ask their opinion about the process.

All right, we've had a chance to talk. What did you think about the school? What, what questions do you have? I want to follow up with every single candidate because their questions, the quality of your questions their, their opinion about what they thought about our vision. All of those things are going to tell me things and it catches them off guard because during the interview, they were on their best behavior after the interview, when you call them up and just ask those questions, they're not expecting that. You're probably going to get closer to the truth. Another thing I might want to do is a second interview.

The second interview is going to be different. 

So I'm not going to do a second interview for everybody. But after the first interview, when I've whittled down the number of candidates that I'm considering, I might invite those candidates back to the school for a second interview. And it has to be in the school in the environment where they're going to be in. I might take them down to the cafeteria and have them have, invite them to lunch with me in the cafeteria while we're eating. I want you to sit down in a non formal environment and just talk to the person. And during that second interview, you are looking to see how do they interact? You know, sometimes I'll take people through the hallway, especially one of our dirty hallways, and I'll just watch do they stop and pick up a piece of trash unconsciously while they're walking down the hallway. That may be my person or in the cafeteria. I may leave them alone for a second. And our kids getting rowdy near them. And then do they intervene with those kids? And how do they intervene with those kids? I want to put them in the school environment and see how they do.

I might take them down to a classroom and say, tell me, talk to me about how you might change this classroom around. What would you do today? If this were your classroom, how would you decorate it? I might introduce them to the custodial staff or watch how they treat my custodial staff to see if they are polite and friendly to my custodial staff, or do they ignore them? Because in my school, Matt, it's important that we treat everybody and makes sure that everybody feels valued. I might leave them alone for a few minutes in the main office and let my secretaries kind of watch them because sometimes your main office secretaries can pick some things up that you may have missed, or I might ask my secretaries, how did they come in? How did they treat you when they first came in? In other words, I want to do some followup that gets beyond the formal interview space and then figures out how they interact there.

If I were doing this remotely and they couldn't come into the school, then I might ask them to join us for a staff happy hour. 

Or I might ask them to sit in on a, on, on a, on a team with the team and, and, and see if they contribute. I might ask them to sit in on a teacher's class and ask them to help out some kids and see whether or not they're they jump in and help kids out. But I want to put them in our school environment and see how they react to my staff, to my students. So that happens in the followup. Not everybody gets access to my staff. I have to make sure this is somebody who's seriously. Considering first, not everybody gets access to my kids. I have to make sure it's somebody I'm seriously considering, but that's what I would do for the followup.

So let me recap those five things that I've suggested on this episode. Again, number one, I would adjust my job listing so that I am attracting the people I want and repelling the people who are not going to be a good fit. Number two, I'm going to revise my interview questions and you can listen to episode 10, where I go into detail about what questions you should ask. Number three, I'm going to include more colleagues in on the interview process, because I want people who are actually going to be working with this individual to get a feel for this individual. And give me feedback on that individual. Number four, I'm going to screen for my school core values. And by the way, if you don't have school core values, what are you waiting for? Go back and listen to episode 44 on how to create school core values or download the ebook. If you go to mindsteps com I'm on the home page. Under the there's a under the heading, there are these four sections and one of them is about creating cohesion. And it's about how to overcome a toxic school culture. And the answer is school core values. So we have an ebook there that you can download for free that tells you how to create core values and takes you through the entire process. 

Once you have those core values, I'm screening for that!

I'm looking for people who are going to align with our core values and number five, I am going to be very intentional about followup. If that's a second interview, I'm going to be doing it in the school environment. I'm going to be putting them in situations to see how are they going to interact with our kids? How do they interact to our school environment?

What do they think about what we set up? And I want to look at their reactions to see if they're going to be a good fit. Now, I want to say one more thing for those of you who say, yeah, Robin, that's great, but I can barely attract people to my district. My district doesn't pay well, there's a neighboring district that pays better. It's hard enough for me to find someone who's breathing. And in fact, if they're certified and they're breathing a lot of times, I have to take that person. And so I want to acknowledge the reality of that, but I also want to challenge you to rethink your recruitment process. A lot of us are using very traditional method measures to attract people to our school. So we are, we are relying on things like salary in our district, or we're looking at teacher retention surveys or other things to kind of help us gauge whether or not someone is going to work in our district.

I don't care about whether they want to work in our district. I want to make it so they want to work for our school. 

And if you have a clear vision, one that is so compelling that people are saying, yes, I want to be a part of that. If you have clear core values and they are pervasive in your school, so that if I didn't know your core values, I could walk into your school and assume what your core values are because of how your school is set up. And if you have a compelling mission about what you are passionate, if you have all those things and those things resonate with me, then the salary issue becomes less of an issue. The, the other things that you're worried about as repelling people become less of an issue. So yes, I know that there's a reality that there are certain, it's hard to get teachers to work in certain districts, but it's not impossible.

You already have some good people working there. And if the pool is limited, that's even more incentive for you to do the five things that I've suggested today and get your vision, mission and core value straight. Because if the pool is limited, you want the best people wanting to work at your school. I've heard people say, well, our facilities aren't the best. Or, you know, we have a really tough group of kids. Yeah, I get all of that. But if you have a compelling vision, mission, and core values, there are some people out there, some really good people out there who will be so attracted to that, that those other issues that you have seen as deterrence, they don't see as deterrence. They they're, they're excited about working in that environment, but here's the thing.

You have to make your school a place where people want to work.

So beyond the interview process, and maybe I should do a whole episode on that. Like, how do you make your school attractive? How do you make your school a place where people want to work? But you know, the answer, the short answer is you need a compelling purpose. You need to have committed people. You need to practice the four disciplines and build a ship to keep your people committed. You need to have a clear understanding of what pathway you're on and you need to have an execute a plan, but what, where can you learn that? I don't know, maybe a builder's lab. Yeah. Because the builders lab, we show you how to do that. If you do that, if you build a school that is that attractive, then people will want to work for you. You'll want to work for you because once you're done creating those four elements, making sure that you have a compelling purpose, putting things in place to keep your people committed sketching out the right pathway for your school and executing on a concrete plan that gets you there.

But it's also flexible enough that you can adjust and ride the waves of change that are happening. If you did those four things, not only are you going to turn your school into a success story, but you're going to create a school environment where people will be dying to work. That's how you attract the right people like a builder. That's it for this time, I will see you next time, where I am going to be doing the summer reading list. Now, a lot of people are saying, I'm already an information overload. I get that. But I'm going to be telling you about five books, none of which are education books, but five books outside of education that you should be reading right now to spark new ideas to get you reenergized. I can't wait. This this year is a really strong, this is a strong list of books this year. These are books that have changed my life personally, that have helped me navigate some of these tough times that have helped me give people really great advice.

I can't wait to share with you the summer reading list for 2020, and I'll be doing that next time.

Take care.

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