I heard yet another tail of woe yesterday, a headteacher on the sick 2 weeks before an inspection, deputy and assistant heads in the dark, teaching staff demoralised. Rather sadly, it is a very common story which I hear far too regularly.
To follow the stereotype through I would expect the head to have had a leadership problem, not delegated sufficiently well and not managed the staff. If this was baseball that would be her error, a stolen base and potential RBIs (hey, its the world series on Wednesday, Detroit versus San Francisco…). But in an organisation like a school the error is often not that easily attributed and I would look at the governors and the deputies as having let the school down as well.
Somewhere along the line someone didn’t say “no” when they should have.
Saying no is one of the hardest things to do in any workplace and something which is accentuated when the management structure is fractured or wobbly. You should be able to say no without fear of retribution or ridicule. You should be able to say no with a clear conscience and mutual respect. You should be able to say no, but I bet you can’t.
We are almost hard wired to not be able to do it. It might be something we were trained out of in our youth, saying no to your parents, for example was not allowed and saying no to your own teacher was also something which would have led to a punishment of some sort. You can check if you can say no, by doing the “sending food back in a restaurant” test… If the food is slightly cold what do you do? Put up with it or send it back? If you can send it back then you have most of the ‘saying no’ tools in your briefcase, if you struggle and would probably choose not to “cause a scene” then we need to do a little more work and go and look at assertiveness, one of my favourite topics.
Assertiveness is the cornerstone of being able to say no and we’ll come back to it in other posts. You can find quite a lot of excellent material on line already. It is also one of the best one day training courses you can go on. Crack assertiveness and saying no will follow…