Month: October 2021

Dealing with Difficult and/or Resistant Staff

Every faculty has difficult and/or resistant people. I think most supervisors would agree that dealing with them is one of the most challenging aspects of their job. Being a difficult person is usually a personality trait. Difficult people come in several varieties. They are often whiners, judgmental, opinionated, and negative. Resistant people do not like change. Resistance can range from being fairly subtle, such as avoidance or passive aggressive behavior, all the way to outright defiance, hostility, and acts of sabotage.

To better understand and then deal with difficult and resistant staff, let’s establish some guiding principles:

(1) Being difficult and being resistant are not the same; however, one can be both difficult and resistant.

(2) Almost everyone comes to work each day with the belief that they do a good job and try their best. Now, that’s what they believe. Being difficult and/or resistant doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad teachers.

(3) What is most relevant is that the supervisor’s most important job is to assure that every member of the staff measures up to the highest professional standards.

(4) As a supervisor, you have a responsibility to treat all staff members with respect. Supervisors should never get sucked into looking and acting like bullies by using your position to be punitive or by threatening others.

(5) The faculty is made up of intelligent people who see naysayers for what they are, and most don’t want to get involved with petty school politics.

(6) If you give naysayers more energy than they deserve, it is like fertilizing weeds, the weeds will likely grow, and you don’t want to squander your energies in unproductive ways.

(7) Deal with conflicts privately. Do not avoid confronting negative behavior because it is uncomfortable. If unaddressed it will grow and even spread.

(8) Supervise to the evidence, meaning gather data and artifacts particularly as they relate to teaching and learning, and hold staff accountable to procedures and policies. Do your due diligence. Never violate a contract or abridge the right to due process.

(9) If there is evidence that someone is under-performing, then deal with the under-performance as an opportunity for staff development.

(10) We all learn best and change our behaviors by reflecting on our own practices and deciding that we need to make corrective actions. As a supervisor, your job is to hold up valid evidence and data to your staff member like a mirror and help them to reflect upon their own actions and the results of those actions.

In short, the supervisor is the professional, is a role model and never acts like a bully.

WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR AND HOW TO PRESENT YOURSELF

Everything you write and say contribute to building your narrative. Your narrative is the story you tell about yourself as a candidate. This includes your resume and cover letter, how you present yourself physically, your answers to the interviewers’ questions, the questions you ask, your letters of reference, and what your references say about you. It’s about developing a picture of yourself, creating a chemistry, demonstrating you are a good match, an easy good fit for what they’re really looking for, and resonating with what their community wants.

Creating an compelling narrative requires a multi-step strategy for each position. Each position is somewhat unique. However, the commonalities do out-weigh the differences. Before describing some of the strategies that should go into building your narrative, we first must understand what the interviewers are really looking for.

What Do They Want

  1. They want to know who you really are, and what you’ve accomplished.
  2. They want to like you. Too often interviews are sterile; you must create an emotional and compelling context through telling your story telling.
  3. They want to make sure that you share their values and aspirations.
  4. They want to see that you look and act the role.
  5. They want to be sure that you’ll easily fit in and not cause conflict.
  6. You need to be seen as humble, self-effacing, sincere, direct, plain spoken, good humored, and authentic.

If this is what the interviewers want, then how do you go about creating a narrative and presenting yourself as that candidate? What strategies should you use?

Strategies to Take

  1. Find out everything you can about the school-community from a variety of sources.
  2. Figure out what they really want you to do. Do not solely rely upon their job description—that’s what they think they want; it may not be the same as they really want.
  3. Analyze your resume, particularly your accomplishments, and emphasize those aspects that they are looking for and that are consistent with their values as a community. It is not enough to assert, “I’m creative and hardworking”. Provide specific and vivid examples of your accomplishments, both professional and personal.
  4. Elude to some personal information, which is not on your resume which they can’t ask you about. If you are married and a parent, let them know. School people love family-oriented candidates who can relate to children and parents.

The tactics as to how you go about carrying out these strategies is hard work. It requires in-depth analyses and practice. However, the reward of moving on to the next steps of your candidacy will be worth the effort.