In a multi-part discussion of Common Administrator Mistakes and What to do Instead, (an Education Week Blog by Larry Ferlazzo), Andrew Miller, who has worked with educators world-wide, says “I think one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen administrators make is lack of clarity on how decisions are being made….For example, an administrator might be sharing different options of schedule changes in order to receive feedback and decide. What could happen is the administrator isn’t clear what the process is he/she has in his/her head.” (emphasis is mine)
No surprise there, if you, as an administrator, keep your decision-making process “in your head” – your staff will likely feel “confused, wary, frustrated and disrespected.” Miller goes on to say, “People appreciate and need clarity, and making decision making rules visible and not hidden can make the process of that decision clear and build trust as well.”
This underscores the importance of consistently using a “formal” or standardized decision-making process like Decision Analysis and educating your staff on the process. Making the “decision-making rules visible” will also help you avoid what Dr. Jason Kotch sees as the additional common mistake of inadequate communication. Consistently using a process can help achieve many of Dr. Kotch’s key steps for enhancing communication, such as:
- Establish norms to value everyone’s perspective regardless of position.
- Facilitate the conversation so that the minds of the whole group can develop better ideas and solutions.
- Share ideas and decisions with all stakeholders.
- Invite others into the conversation and ask reflective questions.
Dr. Kotch adds “Without effective communication, you can turn good intentions and better decisions into big mistakes.” Using a transparent decision-making process lays a great foundation for an effective communication plan by making your thinking visible to all from start to finish.
With all the diverse decisions that cross administrator’s desks it is easy to understand how mistakes can be made, making your decision-making process visible is a great first step in providing clarity and improving communication and avoiding the common problems so many experience.