Using Leadership Rounding to Retain Employees in Education

KK Owen

Retention is one of the toughest problems facing K12 education systems, today. Research shows that each year eight percent of teachers move to a different school and another eight percent leave the professional entirely. The numbers are similar for principal turnover. A report released by EdWeek explored the cause of turnover rates, asking teachers why they are leaving and polling employees and leaders about what the biggest needs are to support the profession. The study revealed that what teachers say they need in terms of support doesn’t match what school leaders believe teachers need.

Understanding the needs of employees and how to help them is critical to retaining them. The most effective way for education leaders to improve school employees’ experience is to provide the support they need to adapt to the changing education landscape. By round with employees, leaders can better understand their needs. Rounding also builds trust and show employees that they are valued, resulting in better engagement, loyalty and retention.

What is Leader Rounding?

Leader rounding is a systematic approach to connecting with employees one-on-one to get input on decisions that affect their jobs and gain insight about how the organization can improve. The practice is modeled from the healthcare industry off of the rounds that nurses and doctors make to check in with patients. They are quick connections that reduce anxiety, build relationships and ensure consistency of care. In the education setting, leader rounding connections are intended to be brief conversations that are focused around four questions:

  1. What is working well for you?
  2. Do you have what you need to do your job?
  3. Is there anything I can do to help you continue to perform well?
  4. Is there anyone who has been especially helpful to you?

From this conversation, leaders can learn what employees most need to keep them with the school. They can then plan for the developing the right skills through training and to learn the resources most needed to do the jobs. Rounding also helps leaders harvest wins and allows employees to provide feedback about their work environment.

The Most Important Tactic for Employee Engagement

Making these connections does more than unearth the needs that will improve the work. It builds relationships, because the employee knows that their input matters and that their leader is listening.

Employees want a leader who listens. A Salesforce report reveals that employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

If an employee expresses a need or a barrier to their work during a leader rounding conversation that cannot be addressed, it’s important to explain why it cannot be done. This level of transparency builds trust and the employee still knows they are heard.

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Using Leadership Rounding to Retain Employees in Education

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