When we accept a new position we are making a change, and even though many things about the job may be the same; in fact we may be being hired because we are the right person for the job, there is much to learn. This is especially true if that job is in a country that we haven’t worked in before. How long before we are comfortable enough with the environment before we can focus on our work? How long must we spend learning our new colleagues before we can truly focus on the tasks at hand or feel we are working efficiently? How long does it take to learn the new organization, in all of its culture from social appropriateness to who to include on emails? How long it might take before we are truly comfortable making decisions and acting independently? And of course all of these things will vary with the context, and sometimes with the day.
I have been working with a group of teachers and directors, many who are new to their positions or both their positions and the organization. One of the things I have noticed is that it has been easy for me to forget that they are engaged in a learning curve and not just expect them to perform at the level they have been hired to perform at the minute they step off the plane. It is easy to forget that they are more than the sum of their resume, Linked In profile, interview, references and google search.
As I was pondering the current state of affairs I remembered working with a rotating group of teacher trainers in the Korean context. Each trainer that came to run a course was certified by an international body to have a set of skills and common knowledge. They had often worked in a variety of teacher training contexts. At first, I went blithely on as the director, feeling relief that they were coming and that was all they needed along with housing, hangers, and a heartfelt welcome. But after several iterations I finally started to realize that I needed to do things differently. They needed more than a few instructions and a reflection at the end of the day. What was going on?
To my relief while on vacation in Bangkok, I ran across The Decision Book: Fifty models for strategic thinking by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler. And there it is was the Hershey-Blanchard Model of situational leadership. Below is my rendition of the model that includes what I learned as I applied the strategy to my incoming teacher trainer situation. My biggest take away was that I needed to provide more initial instruction, they needed more direction than I was providing, they needed to know my expectations in no uncertain terms for our context. This helped to prevent a plethora of assumptions being made and anxiety being raised. There is a step that comes before providing support and long before delegation.
Turns out this solved many issues and made for more relaxed teacher trainings, smoother transitions to group reflective practice and in the end happier teachers and administration. And isn’t that what we all want?
This post written by Tana from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.