In recent months, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed our world in countless ways. And with a new national lockdown in place, there is surely more change to come. Strong leadership in education is essential.

As we adopt new ways of living and working, strong leadership can help teaching and support staff to engage with these changes. This minimises their impact on pupils’ performance and allows them to receive the education they deserve.

In turbulent times, staff look to senior leaders for direction and guidance. How you behave will set the tone of employee relations within your school or academy. Get it right and you’ll drive higher levels of engagement and buy-in. Not only that but you will see better overall wellbeing and performance.

The first and most important step in creating strong leadership is communication. It may sound basic but it makes an enormous difference. Here are some points to consider:

  • Be open and honest: you may not always have all the answers, especially when guidance is constantly evolving and changing, but staff will appreciate your openness and honesty
  • Be timely and consistent: ensure that all staff receive consistent and frequent communication from your leadership team. This includes staff members who may be absent. Everyone should feel that they’re informed and aware of what is happening
  • Be inclusive by asking staff for ideas: asking staff for their ideas and solutions helps them to feel included and could provide important insight. If you ask for advice, ensure that staff feel that you’ve listened to them by providing prompt feedback
  • Use technology to enhance communication: consider different options to communicate with staff so that you can be more inclusive. Use technology to include those who may be absent or working remotely; consider video updates, virtual staff meetings and Zoom calls to update your team on new changes
  • Don’t assume that you know what staff are thinking: build in time to ask questions and find out how staff are coping with changes. Talk to them about their ideas or solutions to the challenges that you’re facing. Being open to feedback can bring valuable insight, and drives better overall engagement and buy-in.

Effective communication is the starting point to improving employee engagement. It’s a matter of ensuring that your team know what they’re doing and why. For more information on building employee engagement, see our free factsheet.

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Written by


Christine Chesworth

Head of HR Advisory, Capita

Chris Chesworth is the Head of HR Advisory Services at Capita HR Solutions. With expertise in change management, employee relations and employee engagement. Chris takes a pragmatic approach to people management, leading on change management programmes to improve the effectiveness of HR services, and bringing the spotlight onto the relationship between HR strategy and the achievement of business objectives. Chris has worked in HR within the private and public sectors and leads Capita’s UK-wide HR delivery service, working for Capita since 2001

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