Tags:EducationBehaviourTheoryResearchPrincipal

News
03/02/2020
4 min read

How long does it take to change your work habits?

Leading a school means leading change.  

That change might be your strategic plan, an initiative that sees people use new apps and tools, or even something as simple as a daily check-in with your team.  

But as anyone who has tried to affect change in a work environment will know, it takes time. In many cases, changes put forward in a plan can up-end habits that people have maintained for years, even decades.  

To truly understand managing change, particularly in a school, you need to understand habits – and how long it takes to adjust them. 

The average time to form a habit is...

66 days - just over two months.  

However, the research that gives us this number notes that the time taken to form a habit habits, the type of activity and how significant repetition of a task influences their automaticity (how quickly they pick something up without thinking).  

This also only applies to people who are willing to change. The research that gives us 66 days also notes that nearly half the participants in the study didn’t repeat their chosen activity enough to form a habit.  

And finally, the habits that research participants picked up were quite simple – drinking water, eating a specific item or doing some minor exercise in a morning period just after breakfast. Hardly organisational change at a school.  

All of which is to say that while 66 days is a good benchmark backed up by research, principals shouldn’t expect automatic habit changes after this period of time just because a paper said it would.  

So what can you do to help and maintain that change?  

Maintaining change in a school environment 

The University of Oregon’s Elliot Berkman has some good ideas on ensuring that an individual maintains change that apply nicely in an organisational context. To wit:  

  1. Have a replacement action or habit 

The example Berkman uses is nicotine gum, an active consumable, being more effective than the passive patches.  

In the workplace, it’s a little more simple. When your change is to stop people from doing one thing, ensure there is a practical alternative. Want everyone to stop using wall planners? Make sure you provide a clear spreadsheet, calendar or Trello board as a replacement!  

2. Bring the why 

Always, always bring the why. Berkman’s argument is that people will affect change more significantly if the change aligns with their personal values.  

That’s where all your hard work on a strategic plan comes in. With strong stakeholder communication and by involving your whole team in a long-term plan, you hopefully already have the buy-in on why you want things to change.  

If not, it’s time to consult, listen and understand.  

3. Visibility and motivation 

Berkman’s final piece of advice is that everyone has the capacity to change. Shining a light on the behaviour or action you want to change and providing clear motivation can go a long way, especially for people who have a deeply ingrained way of doing things.  

It might not happen in 66 days – but it will happen 

This may seem like a negative way to look at change in a school, using comparisons to addiction models. But at its core, implementing change through a strategic plan operates on the same principles. You are helping people move from one set of behaviours to another, and need to do so respectfully and with clear context.  

Perhaps most importantly - and this is backed up in the research – missing an opportunity to perform the changed behaviour or action doesn’t mess up the automaticity.

Basically – if you or anyone in your team makes a mistake, it will still become a habit. Power in persistence, everyone!

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Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme (SLPP)

A fully funded 10-month development programme for New Zealand principals.  The Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme (SLPP) brings New Zealand principals together with strategic experts to develop your leadership and to support clear, insightful planning for schools.  Strategic leadership is a pivotal element for improved school performance. The ability to plan, manage and report as the fulcrum of your community ensures strong relationships and the right conditions for everyone to thrive.    This year, Springboard Trust is thrilled to announce its very first virtual cohort – accessible from anywhere in New Zealand in 2021. How SLPP works for NZ principals  Over a series of workshops spanning 10 months, SLPP explores the core elements of strategic leadership for New Zealand principals – beginning the journey to creating better student outcomes.   This learning occurs with the support of a Capacity Partner – a dedicated expert volunteer, with whom principals will build a trusted, high-empathy relationship that delivers outstanding impact. This cross-sector model is unique to Springboard Trust, and ensures every principal who takes part has personalized support to meet their needs at both a personal and professional level.   Together, they work with a cohort of up to six other principal-Capacity partner pairings, under the guidance of an experienced facilitator and Springboard’s own expert Programme Managers.   By the end of the programme, principals typically demonstrate significant progression in:  One- and three-year planning and outlook  Creating and communicating a vision and strategic plan Identifying, communicating with and gaining buy-in from key stakeholders Measuring the impacts of their changes Leading the same transformative change for their team  This forms the bedrock of the conditions for improved student outcomes, which we explore in more detail through our Alumni Services.   For more information on the direct impacts on school leadership that principals gain through SLPP, please check out our annual Impact Reports.  SLPP Requirements and Application Details  SLPP is open to principals who wish to enhance their strategic leadership. However, due to the high number of applicants we receive each year, priority may be given to principals with the greatest need for support.   2021 SLPP workshops will delivered either in person, virtually or through a combination of both – please note that depending on location, some travel may be required for the former. Across the 10 months, it is expected that principals will spend around two hours per week engaging in this professional learning and working with others, in addition to the workshop times.  Volunteers will be required to give around 40 hours of their time, while for facilitators about 50 hours of time is required.   Applications for principals have closed for 2021 - but please get in touch with our team if you wish to join a cohort! For volunteers with leadership experience who want to find out more about becoming a Capacity Partner, you can find full details of the role here – or contact our Volunteer Manager Rebecca Brown to express your interest in the next programme.  

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Talent Management Workshop

With a New Zealand teaching workforce of 70,000 and counting, principals have a huge variety of people on their teams. Yet it is becoming more challenging to recruit and retain the right people at the right time.    Schools that don’t pay close attention to how their people are feeling, developing and responding to change will likely face higher turnover, and more issues implementing their strategic plans.   Springboard Trust’s Talent Management Workshop gives school leaders an insight into a framework for good talent management, supports schools to develop a people strategy, and gives you the tools to ensure everyone in your school can bring their best.   How does the Talent Management Workshop work? Talent management isn’t a set-and-forget action – it's a constantly evolving process, and one that needs a holistic focus at all times. As with everything, it’s all about the people.   In our Talent Management Workshop, you work with a facilitator and one of the Springboard Programme Managers to develop your school’s own view of talent management, where your team fits in the cycle, what is a priority area for you to start and what you need to do to ensure a healthy, happy team in the future.   The workshop is broken down into five stages, each representing a part of the talent management cycle: onboarding, development, retention, planning and attraction.   We will help you align a talent strategy to your strategic plan, helping you work with the right people for your vision and values. That may include identifying  solutions to address your talent gaps, where your team’s strengths lie, and how the talent management process never stops – even when you’re not actively looking for new people.   It is a half-day workshop, and takes approximately four hours.   What do you get out of the Talent Management Workshop?   Understand the talent management cycle and all its different stages.   Have a framework and tools to get the best out of your people.   Be able to develop a talent management/people strategy for your school.   Apply the GROW coaching model to support your existing and potential people.   Who is the Talent Management Workshop for? The Talent Management workshop is open to all alumni principals (those who have completed the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme) and works best when the leadership team attend the workshop together  To find out more about our next Talent Management workshop, contact your Programme Manager or head on over to our contact page.  

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High Performing Leaders (HPL)

High Performing Leaders (HPL) is a service designed to support principals, senior and middle school leaders to understand their strengths and how these can be leveraged in existing or future roles.  How does High Performing Leaders work?  HPL is a process of reflection, introspection and then connection. The Springboard team – along with our volunteers – provide a principal, senior or middle leader with coaching and guidance to help them decipher their strengths, areas for development and where they should focus their efforts.  This is supported by a comprehensive 360 degree feedback process involving up to 15 people the leader works or engages with.   Fully confidential, HPL provides a safe and supportive environment for all the feedback you need to thrive.   You will work through HPL in five one-on-one sessions alongside an expert volunteer coach, who will support you to unpack the feedback, set a goal and work on a plan to achieve your goal.  What do principals get out of High Performing Leaders? Springboard Trust’s leadership framework is a tried and tested model for not just strong school leadership, but the flow-on impacts of that leadership to the rest of the school and wider community. It correlates with the Education Council’s Leadership Framework, as well as the Mental Health Foundation’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing model.   Through 360 feedback and coaching in HPL, principals will:  Foster trust, safety, creativity and exploratory thinking in themselves and their team.   Develop strengths-based leadership with clear, practical next steps.   Get unique insight into their own leadership style.   Create positive leadership practices that impact the whole school and community.   Understand and apply the GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Way Forward) coaching framework.   Finally, High Performing Leaders gives you the starting point for developing your own skills and bringing the rest of your leadership team on this journey with you.   Who can take on High Performing Leaders? The HPL programme is open to all Springboard Trust alumni principals (those who have completed the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme), their senior leaders and middle leaders.  This service runs over one school term and requires committed input from up to 15 key people, including coaches, leadership team members, direct reports and peers. To find out more about High Performing Leaders or to register your interest, contact your Programme Manager or head over to our contact page. 

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