In his blog from April “The Right People in the Right Seats” Tim Van Soelen encourages Christian schools to attract talent into their school through the lens of Collins’ research on Good to Great businesses. This sparked a question from a number of friends who were in the midst of hiring for next school year, which was: How do we attract talent?
Get a New Analogy:
I hate buses especially long yellow school buses, and I can’t say the analogy will get anyone of talent or worth excited about joining you on a slow painstaking ride to the past.
Yellow school buses:
- Are long, slow, and difficult to maneuver.
- Are uncomfortable, bumpy, and hot.
- Were made for efficiency, similar to the model of education we are attempting to reform.
- Were dominated by the “big” kids who sat in the back of the bus and made life as miserable as they were.
Personally, I remember walking out to the school bus as a boy preparing for events similar to the Lord of the Flies for my bus ride to and from school. I hated those twice daily rides and can fully understand why many parents don’t make their own kids ride that same bus and experience the cruelty that can come from classmates, peers, and even friends.
Therefore, my first suggestion is to get rid of the “Right Seats” on “The Bus” analogy. Create a new analogy that will inspire recruits, new hires, and old talent alike to rip the seats out of the bus and turn it into something else. No real professional wants to join you in a journey on a bus, so come up with something meaningful, better, and fun.
Let the Recruiting Commence:
Now that you have a new analogy, go find the talented people that will make this work happen. I think most school leaders should shift their hiring in three ways:
- Recruit Talent: No offense to those that asked the question above, but there are very few schools that actually attract talent. Apple, Nike, Facebook, BMW, and others attract talent, schools must recruit for talent. Have a vision for what you want and go find (if need be steal) the talent you seek instead of waiting for it to find you.
- Talent supersedes skills and credentials: Skills are credentials are important, but they can be developed and gained if you find someone who has superior talent. I remember being denied the opportunity to hire one of the most talented leaders I’ve ever met because he didn’t have experience or credentials. That leader has now gone on to become one of the most respected leaders in his 16-school charter-network.
- Dispositions Matter: I learned working for a very successful baseball organization that it wasn’t enough to find great talent, but that great talent had to be a fit for the culture and values of the organization. If you have great talent with the wrong dispositions you will create a highly dysfunctional school; therefore, it takes courage as a leader to bypass a talented recruit that isn’t a dispositional fit for the organization.
Erik Ellefsen has served in education for 21 years as a teacher, coach, consultant, Grievance Chairman for the American Federation of Teachers, Dean of Academics at Boston Trinity Academy, and as Principal at Chicago Christian High School. He currently serves as an Academic and College Counselor at Valley Christian High School (San Jose, CA), a Senior Fellow for CACE, a Senior Fellow for Cardus, podcaster for Digical Education, and as Vice President of CCEI. Erik regularly organizes Christian school leadership seminars and speaks on issues pertaining to academic program, student leadership, and organizational development. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.