Purpose of education – Malcom Forbes

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Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.

Three Reasons Performance will Change

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Based upon changes in employee expectations, advancements in technology and the revolution in people’s relationships with technology, Forbes contributor Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith cites three reasons why performance management systems need to be revamped to better fit today’s organizational environment to achieve their intended outcome: performance improvement. As technology evolves and data becomes more streamlined through composite dashboards, graphic displays and easy to access reports, it is helping to redirect our attention to what actually matters in the performance evaluation and development process. Managers now have the tools to shift their focus from the process to outcomes that drive the performance development and organizational improvement. More: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sylviavorhausersmith/2012/12/16/the-new-face-of-performance-management-trading-annual-reviews-for-agile-management/


Is there any organizational practice more broken than performance management? Not if you concur with Marc Effron & Miriam Ort who state “perhaps no talent management process is more important or more reviled than performance management.” In fact, it draws universal agreement on several fronts:

  • everyone hates it – employees and managers alike
  • nobody does it well – it’s a skill that seemingly fails to be acquired despite exhaustive training efforts, and
  • it fails the test of construct validity – it doesn’t do what it was designed to do, i.e. increase performance

Traditional performance management programs have become organization wallpaper. They exist in the background with little or no expectations for impact. Yet despite its poor popularity, the concept of performance (at an individual and organizational level) is critical to business success. It can’t just be ignored.

Why is it so broken?

In a large survey conducted by WorldatWork, 58% of organizations rated their performance management systems as “C Grade or below.” That gets a giggle. The performance management process itself gets subjected to its own methods of setting criteria and rating performance against them – and fails.

I believe there are three reasons almost all current performance management systems are broken:

1 People have changed

2 Technology has changed

3 People’s relationship with their technology has changed

Repairing the damage? In order to compete in today’s market, companies must move to adopt a much more agile performance management approach.


Employee expectations have changed. It’s not just Gen Y – employees everywhere and of every generation expect more. More involvement, more accountability, and more transparency. When it comes to managing their performance, employees have shifted from being passive recipients to active agents. Not satisfied with a one-way download of performance feedback, employees want to participate in the performance data collection process. And they liken the ‘annual event’ of a performance review to arriving at the pearly gates on Judgment Day.

Managers have changed too. Command and control is no longer cutting it – managers are expected to guide and coach, provide balanced constructive feedback and inspire, rather than enforce, performance.

Add to that what science is now telling us about what really drives human motivation. Like, goal pursuit motivates performance much more than goal achievement, peak performance is best achieved in states of flow, and multi-tasking only dilutes performance on all tasks undertaken concurrently.

Key Changes for High Performance?

Paradigm shift. What used to work no longer does. Managers need to:

1) be realcommunicate openly and often.

2) set stretch goals and inspire individuals to work to their potential.

3) get out of the way – trust their teams and empower employees with accountability.

Technology HAS CHANGED

We’re reaching a tipping point for technology in the talent management arena. It began with simple automation: take the paper processes and put them on a computer. Fine, but that left us with so many spreadsheets, Word templates, proprietary systems and disconnected point solutions that we were drowning in complexity and data overload. It also highlighted that many of the processes we were automating actually needed to be revised, simplified or eliminated altogether.

Baffled by the complexity we created, focus in recent years has been on process simplification, user-friendliness and redirecting attention to what actually matters. A good step forward, but we still suffer from too much data, too little meaningful information.

The “big data & analytics movement” has now really raised the bar – not just in terms of what data can be gathered, aggregated and analyzed but also how it is filtered and presented to audiences to provide immediate management insights. Activity lists are being replaced by composite dashboards, lengthy reports by simple performance heat maps – yes, pictures, literally replacing thousands of words.

Key Change for High Performance?

A shift in focus from process to outcomes. Burn the forms. With technology finally up to the task of producing meaningful information, managers can turn their attention to driving performance outcomes rather than being bogged down in laborious processes.

The relationship between people and their technology

On demand.


Better, faster, cheaper.

It’s really not so long ago that your only likely encounter with a computer was when you went to work, laptops were expensive and rare, and mobile devices were pagers and Walkmans. Today, can you even imagine getting past 10:00 a.m. without having accessed a myriad of your online applications? We work online, shop online, socialize online, we are connected 24/7 – online.

Enterprise technologies are not far behind. Perhaps you are still in a workplace that restricts or bans social media, but they are in decline. Perhaps your organization refuses cloud-based applications for privacy or security reasons, but they are in decline. The fact is: organizations that try to block out the world simply ostracize themselves. And they are in decline.

Key Change for High Performance?

An agile, social and mobile work environment. You will set dynamic goals and adjust them in response to change; your manager will provide just-in-time coaching wherever you are; skills and knowledge you need will be recommended and streamed to you; your performance journal will continuously capture and cluster feedback, ideas and suggestions from your peers and customers; your formal annual performance review will be permanently deleted from your calendar…and you will finally be in a position to manage your own career.

Is the School Principalship a Doable Job? It Depends

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By Learning Forward on July 2, 2015 9:38 AM

A few years ago, Learning Forward deputy executive director Frederick Brown attended a State Consortium on Educator Effectiveness meeting in Baltimore, co-hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Learning Forward. At the meeting, principals from across the country were asked, “Is your job doable?” Their answers were both passionate and poignant.

A few years ago, I attended a State Consortium on Educator Effectiveness meeting in Baltimore co-hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Learning Forward. At the meeting, principals from across the country were asked, “Is your job doable?” Their answers were both passionate and poignant.

Although no principal said his or her job was impossible, many described circumstances that left the audience wondering how long they would be able to sustain their pace. They described being required to complete formal evaluations of dozens of teachers each year. They highlighted their districts’ responses to their state student assessments and their roles in supporting the testing processes. They described workweeks that typically lasted 80-plus hours and weekends that were all but nonexistent. It was a sobering moment that left many in the audience wondering if we are asking our principals to do too much.

The Wallace Foundation Principal Pipeline Initiative works with six urban districts to create large corps of instructional leaders — principals whose main task is to improve teaching and learning. The districts are Hillsborough County, Florida; New York City, New York; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina; Prince George’s County, Maryland; and Denver, Colorado. The chosen districts survived a vetting process by Wallace before receiving funding. They are among the top districts in the country focusing their attention and resources on the principalship.

During a recent meeting of the Principal Pipeline Initiative professional learning community in New York, superintendents from these districts addressed the same question. Several were quick to acknowledge that the job of school principal is incredibly demanding and not for everyone. However, each superintendent who spoke emphasized that, while principals need the appropriate supports to do their jobs effectively, the job is doable.

As I reflect on these experiences, I’m drawn back to the word “supports.” What is it that districts — and perhaps provinces and states — can do to help support school leaders? Built into Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Initiative are the foundation’s beliefs about some of those supports, including:

  • Very clear leadership standards that outline what leaders are expected to know and be able to do;
  • Strong leadership preparation that ensures leaders can move into a principal position with the skills needed to do the job;
  • An induction process that provides job-embedded learning during the first few years on the job; and
  • Ongoing mentoring and support to help principals navigate the changing educational landscape.

The six Principal Pipeline Initiative districts had to prove these supports were either partially or completely in place before receiving the grant. After hearing from some of the overwhelmed principals from the State Consortium on Educator Effectiveness meeting, my guess is their districts may have lacked some of those basic supports. So what other supports do principals need? Here are a few I would offer:

  • As part of their training, induction, and ongoing professional learning, principals need help understanding how to more effectively distribute leadership, particularly the management aspects of their work.
  • Principals need central offices and regional service centers that are viewed by principals not as “mandate generators” but as “centers of support” and “providers of resources.”
  • Principals need opportunities to network with their colleagues in learning communities where they can take ownership of their own learning.

Is the principals’ job doable? In many places, the answer is NO. However, we know what it takes to change that. It’s my hope that those principals who find themselves in “undoable” positions will find a way to advocate for a new reality


Reversing the Teacher Dropout Problem

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Retain more of your staff by understanding their needs and helping them succeed.

By Jon Andes

Each year, about a half million teachers are hired. School systems spend significant amounts of resources, in both time and money, to recruit, hire, and induct new teachers. Despite this expenditure, up to half of all new teachers will become “dropouts” within their first five years. For school systems nationwide, the costs of new teacher dropouts are substantial– estimated at $2.2 billion per year. For students, this teacher turnover impacts the quality of instruction they receive. Since a major proportion of new teachers are assigned to high-poverty schools, the negative impact on poor children is continuous.

Solving the teacher dropout phenomenon is a precursor to ensuring the success of all students. To address the challenges presented by teacher dropout, we, as instructional leaders, need to understand the unique qualities and needs of new, millennial-generation teachers; discover the general reasons given by new teachers for leaving the profession; and explore the strategies that instructional leaders can take to prevent this from happening.

Who Are These Teachers?

In general, members of the millennial generation have three common characteristics that will impact their career as teachers. First, they are digital natives, who constantly use technology to communicate and to access information. This generation sees access to high-speed Internet and devices as a given. Second, they are team oriented and seek to solve problems by working collaboratively. Since birth, members of this generation have been encouraged to be part of a team—in play groups, sports teams, summer camps, and arts programs. Finally, they seek tangible achievements and feedback, having been the recipients of trophies, medals, and even participation ribbons.

Why Do They Leave?

When researchers survey new teachers who have left the profession, three major reasons are commonly given for dropping out. First, they cite a lack of resources, including technology and classroom materials, and the time to plan and complete the many tasks associated with teaching. Second, these teachers identify a feeling of isolation as a reason for leaving, specifically, a lack of time and the freedom to work together as professionals to address and solve instructional challenges. Finally, they identify a lack of support by school-building leadership as a reason for leaving.

What Can You Do to Help?

The obvious solution to addressing the dilemma of new teacher dropouts is to make sure that the right person is hired. Assuring the right person is hired may reduce attrition, but it may not be enough to retain the best and the brightest millennials. By understanding the unique characteristics of this generation and the reasons cited for leaving the teaching profession, instructional leaders can identify and implement strategies to retain these new teachers.

First, providing needed resources is critical. The millennial generation of new teachers expects that the tools of teaching—including technology—will be available in the classroom to optimize their instructional practice. In terms of time constraints, school leaders can ease these by eliminating or reducing administrative duties such as bus or playground duty, providing new teachers with common planning time, and reducing class size. Additionally, school leaders can make a conscious effort to carefully choose which students to assign to new teachers, for the purpose of setting up the novice for a successful first-year experience.

Second, to combat a feeling of isolation, the instructional leader can assign the right mentor and place the new teacher on a collaborative team. Veteran teachers are often selected as mentors for new teachers but this may not always be the best choice. In addition to assigning the right mentor, the instructional leader needs to provide time during the school day for the new teacher and a mentor to plan and work together.

Third, to demonstrate support for new teachers, the building principal must make an effort to connect with them. This might include actions such as scheduling a regular bimonthly time to meet with new teachers and mentors to discuss needs, informally meet with new teachers for an after-school snack and chat, make informal visits to the classroom to acknowledge instructional success, and use e-mails to reach out to new teachers with positive messages. Most important, new teachers need to believe that an instructional leader is listening to them and is committed to enabling their success.

As instructional leaders, we must remember that the success of a student directly depends on the person who is teaching him or her. As a nation, we cannot afford the cost of constantly recruiting, hiring, and training new teachers. The cost is too high in terms of both money spent and loss of student learning time. The purpose of the hiring process is to replace ourselves with a generation of educators who are prepared and capable to meet the challenges that the post-millennial generation will bring to the classroom.

Jon Andes is a professor of practice at Salisbury State University in Maryland. He was superintendent of the Worcester County Public Schools in Maryland from 1996 through 2012.

Skip Your Low Performers When Starting Performance Appraisals

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Whatever you call them, performance appraisals (or employee evaluations or annual reviews) are painful. But our high performers aren’t making these events strenuous; it’s our low performers that make us dread these conversations.

And while there’s a school of thought that says ‘take whatever is most painful and get it out of the way first,’ when it comes to annual reviews, that’s a mistake.

If you have the opportunity, it’s best to start your employee evaluations with all your high performers. Then, when you’ve finished with them, start on your middle performers. And then, when you’ve finished with them, you’re ready to start talking to your low performers.

Starting annual reviews with high performers first, middle performers next and low performers last is a simple process change that makes performance appraisals a more effective and resonant experience for everyone.

Here are 3 good reasons why you should start your performance appraisal conversations with your high performers (and avoid your low performers until the end):

Reason #1: It stops low performers from spreading negativity

If you do employee evaluations correctly, your high and middle performers will leave your office feeling motivated and energized. After all, they’re your high and middle performers; by definition, they’re doing good or even great work and they should be recognized accordingly. And this positive energy is going to inoculate high and middle performers against any negativity that might emanate from low performers.

Some (maybe many) low performers leave their performance reviews angry and defensive. They’re filled with denial, blame, excuses, and a driving need to manipulate everyone around them into thinking negatively about the organization and its leaders—especially you.

Meeting with high performers first, middle performers next and low performers last takes that power away from low performers. Low performers may still vent post review, but high and middle performers will be insulated from low performer emotional toxicity. These good performers, who have already completed their reviews, will still be riding the emotional high of their positive review experience. They aren’t going to care what low performers have to say, let alone be influenced by it.

Reason #2: It differentiates high and low performers

Scheduling high performer reviews first, middle performers next and low performers last sends a clear message that says “this organization values high performers.” This means your best folks get to walk into their review proud to be an acknowledged high performer while low performers get to sweat it out waiting.

If you saw our recent study, you already know the shocking news that in 42% of organizations, high performers are less engaged than low performers. And one of the big reasons why high performers are suffering from such low engagement is that leaders don’t do enough to differentiate between high and low performance.

Anyone who’s had a real job for more than a few years knows the demoralization that comes from being a high performer surrounded by low performers-getting burned out by carrying their load, and resentful over a lack of recognition for your work. Give your good performers the differentiation they want by meeting with them first during review time. The added bonus is that there will be no more mistaking the low performers in your organization.

Reason #3: It builds momentum that makes low performer reviews more effective

Turning low performer reviews into deep and meaningful conversations that result in positive change is easier to do when you’ve built up some momentum that sets the tone for these difficult meetings. Talking to your best people about performance and goal setting and growth is fun, and it builds up your mojo and momentum. The same goes for middle performer reviews, which also tend to be mostly pleasant.

By the time you get to your low performers you’ll be mentally insulated, almost like you’ve had a vaccine against the challenges these folks are likely to present. Plus, by this time, your low performers have figured out the order you’re moving in. They know they are last for a reason, and this compartmentalizes them, softening them up emotionally, making them less defensive, and thus potentially more receptive to your appraisal of their performance.

Mark is the founder of Leadership IQ, and author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller “Hundred Percenters: Challenge Your People to Give It Their All and They’ll Give You Even More.” Mark also teaches a series of weekly webinars for leaders.

The 101 on giving criticism

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The 101 on giving criticism
Managers don’t like to dish out negative feedback, but when it’s necessary, separate it from positive feedback and do so with an idea of what you’d like to see change, writes Sarah Green, who summarizes years of Harvard Business Review advice. “If you’re delivering some particularly hard-to-hear news, consider giving the person the rest of the afternoon off,” she advises. Harvard Business Review online/HBR Blog Network (6/30)

4 Ways to Get a New Employee Off to the Perfect Start

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That interview you had right before you made the job offer? It’s not enough. Here are four things you must do on a new hire’s first day. You work hard to find, interview, and hire the right employees. They have great skills, great experience, and great attitude.

   Thoroughly describe how your business creates value.

New employees need to learn how to do their jobs, but first they need to thoroughly understand your company’s underlying value proposition and competitive advantage.

No matter what your business, one or two things truly drive results: Maybe it’s quality. Maybe it’s service. Maybe you’re the low-cost provider. Maybe it’s the personal connection you make with each individual customer, and the true sense of community you’ve worked hard to create.

Other aspects are important, but one or two are absolutely make-or-break

Map out the employee’s internal and external customers.

The new employee may have direct reports. She has external customers, even if she never meets them, and she definitely has internal customers. No job exists in a vacuum; understanding the needs of every constituent helps define the job and the way it should be done.

Take time to explain how the employee will create value for your business while serving all their internal and external customers. Achieving that balance is often tricky–don’t assume new employees will eventually figure it out on their own.

Set immediate, concrete goals–and start giving feedback.

Successful businesses execute. Your business executes. Set that productivity tone by ensuring every new employee completes at least one specific job-related task on their first day.

Why? Not only do you establish that output is all-important, your new employees go home feeling a sense of personal achievement. A whole day or days spent in orientation is boring and unfulfilling and makes the eventual transition to “work” harder.

Explain exactly why you hired them.

Every employee is hired for one or two specific reasons, but often those reasons get lost in all the fluff of the interview process. (Be honest: It’s nice to find a well-rounded employee, but most of the time you really need an employee who is a superstar at doing X.)

Sit down with new employees and share the primary reason you hired them. It’s a great opportunity to praise their skills and experience, and praise their attitude and work ethic. What new employee doesn’t like that? More importantly you reinforce the connection between their skills, experience, attitude, and work ethic and the actual job you hired them to perform.

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business

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