More stars – more recognition


More stars – more recognition

23 Oct ’15 Leadership 0

Twice in recent weeks I have heard and reflected on the term “discretionary effort.” First at @KevBartle challenging and galvanising leadership session at #TLT15 and second whilst considering the potential pitfalls of appraisals. The first post is here.

Discretionary effort is invaluable to any organisation and can so easily go unnoticed. It is by it’s very nature so often unseen and that is why our termly, staff nominated STARS board in our staff room is so important. It is why I always contribute an anonymous nomination and always enjoy reading thoughtful comments. A year on, our STARS board is a stark reminder of the significant goodwill expended in our school – even though many, many coloured stars have been taken down and now adorn numerous person notice boards around the school. (They are put up with blue tack with the intention of the stars being a “gift” to the named staff member.)

The remaining stars on the STAR display at The Wellington Academy

As for the “other ways” to say “thank you” list from the first stars list.

  1. “Thank you for going the extra mile” post cards – every SLT meeting.
  2. Recognise a staff members efforts in front of their line manager / email recognition and cc the line manager. I have publically thanked our Director of IT.
  3. Acknowledge a staff member efforts / achievements by using their name when preparing a status / update report. I have recognised the input of APs in new and legacy tasks.
  4. Swap or step into a class with a staff member. Covered English, took an extra isolation session and a Friday PM detention. Regularly take cover as Headteacher.
  5. Nominate the staff member for an external award. Nominated staff for Pearson Awards.
  6. Drop into the first meeting of a project / support programme and do not over stay your welcome. Left a DHT/AHT planning meeting after the agenda was shared. “I know you will have this covered.”
  7. When you hear a positive remark about teacher, a lesson, repeat it to that teacher, the sooner the better. Much the same as forwarding positive voice mail or email messages. I have shared two emails regarding the efforts of a new member of the boarding staff. Weekly I nominate Kudos awards.
  8. Ask to see a teacher, thank them and do not discuss any other work issues, none, nada, zilch. Yes, that was very powerful.
  9. Recognise a department in the school Newsletter. Yes, I have redesigned the newsletter.
  10. Recognise professional qualifications achieved (borrowed from Paul Blake). Celebrate LSA qualifications and SENCO qualifications.
  11. Publicly recognise the positive impact on operations of the solutions staff members devise for problems. Share solutions achieved from staff survey.
  12. Hold sincere and focused performance review meetings – turn the screen off, the phone off, put a sign on the door and accept no interruptions.  Definitely. I have made a real effort to read the reviewees statements and write commentary before the meeting, to create a sense of real worthwhile conversations.
  13. Greet staff member by name. Yes, regularly. Denise and Anne in reception. Next term our lunchtime staff.
  14. Use 3×3 cards to write “You’re special because…” statements. A new take on the Star comments.

Other ways to say thank you with a little more planning

  1. Inscribe a favourite book as a gift. Gave my copy of The Prophet to a student. A copy of Pep McCrrae Memorable teaching to all staff.
  2. Give the staff member a membership or subscription to a journal that relates to their work. Gave a copy of Teach Like a Champion to a NQT.
  3. Set up a PD opportunity that will help them address a professional focus. Yes, middle leaders. Also set up meetings for BTEC staff Barry and Kerry, and a meeting for the 6th Form House Leaders
  4. Design a “____________  Support Kit” – to support that staff member past an obstacle. A marking support kit, stress support kit, “a coping with Mr Still support kit.”
  5. Serve your staff – lunch? Afternoon tea? We held a new to the Academy tea in week 5.
  6. Give a personalised coffee cup. Combine with point 6 and why not serve them coffee? Yes, and received three mugs in return!
  7. Send / leave a note reading, “Thank you. You are a Lifesaver______!” attaching a pack of Polo’s (Polo’s are in the shape of a rescue buoyancy aid).
  8. Give a puzzle as an award to a problem solver.

Perhaps one the most powerful ways to say thank you, is to commit a random act of kindness and never admit to it. I have added World Teacher Day to our annual schedule, though staff knew it was Kerry and I. I am about to share the “Going the extra mile” post card with Tim Smith from The Magna Carta School, but he is expecting it. Maybe I’ll send a book via Amazon as a gift and count it against “

Next term I have a few ideas to explore.

Recognising and acknowledging the discretionary effort staff put into an organisation should be far simpler than it is. It is, in truth, a psychological minefield, a potential pot-hole, if not thoroughly thought throw and by that I mean at least seven things. I know it seems a lot.

  • The action – how1 and who2 and when3 you choose to recognise.
  • How the recipient may4 or may not5 receive the gesture.
  • How those not recognised, may6 or may not7 respond.


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