Measuring, supporting a “great life” in Kentucky schools
Kentucky School Advocate
By Brad Hughes
KSBA Director of Member Support/Communications Services
Within the next few weeks, classrooms, hallways, gymnasiums, cafeterias and other spaces in more than 1,200 Kentucky schools will be pulsating with the activity of the 2016-17 academic year. By then, countless hours, days and weeks of preparation will have been completed – all to get buildings, buses, ovens and computers ready for a new school year.
Time doubtless will have been spent getting the adults in those schools ready for the challenges and opportunities. But are superintendents, principals, school boards and school councils equipped with the knowledge of what it takes to get the best out of their employees?
The 100-plus attendees at the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative’s summer leadership conference may just have a leg up on other leaders when it comes to maximizing performance. That’s because of a thought-provoking presentation by Brandon Busteed of the Gallup polling organization.
From Gallup’s most recent polling on life and work – involving “tens of thousands of questions of tens of millions of people” – Busteed shared two queries to which the majority of respondents strongly agreed apply to what is important to having a “great life” and a “great job:”
• Someone who encourages your development.
• The opportunity to do what I do best every day.
If you could have seen the note scribbling at the GRREC tables or the tweets being posted on Twitter, you would have known the message had captured the audience.
Building, sustaining from within
Busteed, executive director of Education and Workforce Development for Gallup Inc., cited five points that his firm’s polling discovered as foundational to a “great life:”
• Purpose – How you occupy your time; liking what you do every day.
• Social – Relationships and love in life.
• Physical – Good health and enough energy to get things done daily.
• Community – Engagement and involvement where you live; being deeply, meaningfully engaged in ONE thing.
• Financial well-being – Managing one’s economic life to reduce stress and increase security; not necessarily how much money you make.
“Well-being matters to people and it should to organizations as well,” Busteed said. “If you have an employee who is thriving in all five areas, the health-care cost burden goes down by one-third. Well-being is not just nice to have, it’s a need to have.”
The data also indicates what people see in a “great job” that’s not just nice to have, but rather is “a need to have.” These include:
• Knowing what’s expected of me.
• Having the materials and equipment I need.
• Getting to do what I do best every day.
• Being recognized in the last seven days.
• Having a supervisor or someone at work who cares about me.
• Having a supervisor or someone at work who encourages me to do my best.
“Caring, not content, is king,” Busteed said, “someone who encourages my development, urges me to do what I do best every day.”
But he warned his audience that Gallup research shows that teachers are “dead last of all professions” in feeling that their opinions count.
“If you don’t have encouragement and you don’t get to do what you do best, how long do you think people will stay in that job?” he asked. “Younger workers are less interested in the paycheck than in what they do. They make no distinction in work and life. For most Americans, the day of the week with the highest personal feeling of well-being is Saturday. If you are highly religious, it’s Sunday. If you love your job, it’s Monday.”
The Last Word
A final insight Busteed offered is one I hope will stick with me a long time, as a supervisor, a coworker and just a person.
“If we start to treat people more like customers, they will tell us a lot about what they value, about what matters most,” he said. “One of Gallup’s biggest insights is that people don’t develop by constantly focusing on their weaknesses, but rather by focusing on their natural strengths. We have to find the fundamental talents inside each human being and help develop those ‘muscles’ each day.”
That’s truly a message worth getting out.