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Not sure if this happens to you, but many conversations I have with friends or family – no matter the initial focus – often move to organizational behavior. This post’s title is one example; in a conversation with a bank vice president of information technology he shared his excitement about his new position, including his employer’s “awesome onboarding process.” He shared two main points during our conversation:

Strategic Planning Must Include Leaders at All Levels

Leaders Must Cascade Goals to All Levels of an Organization, and Communicate the Goals

He provided an example of the importance of communication from an information technology programmer’s perspective:

One goal (from leadership) when redesigning the company website was to allow customers a process where they could make account inquiries and pay their account. Part of this goal, ability to make account payment, was never communicated to the individuals implementing the goal; thus, IT developers and programmers never built an option for customers to make a payment on their account into the website redesign. When the new website was rolled out this option was not available. This meant the entire website redesign and development process and the “new” website needed to be redone to include this.

Our conversation and his example are reflected in many of the takeaways from this week’s What’s Right in Education event. The connection? This is how Evidence-Based Leadership (EBLK12) helps school leaders. EBLK12 provides a framework for cascading and communicating goals from the district level to each school leader, ultimately reaching teachers and support staff across the district. Remember, it’s more than just cascading; it includes communication. The Evidence-Based Leadership framework has built-in communication across leader and employee levels of the school district, thus providing transparency (a.k.a communication) to not only district employees but its students, parents, and the community.

Returning full-circle to the title of this post, “an awesome onboarding process,” this grounds several leader comments during the roundtable discussion at the final day of WRIE.


Build Structures of Support – Build structure/culture where there is support for the new/early career teacher. We want all first/early career teachers to be able to say, “I can make an improvement” because a structure and culture of excellence is in place.

Hardwire Goals at All Levels – Hardwire brand new teachers when they come into the district so their passion continues. Show them that they are in a system that is supportive of them.


Ownership, Voice, and Accountability – Provide employees at all levels an opportunity to share their voice.

Be “All In; Do It” – Implement from top to bottom and bottom to top – all in.

Build the Infrastructure – Educate folks that Evidence-Based Leadership is not an initiative; all roads lead to student achievement. Master goal setting and drive home the ‘why.’ We have good people in every organization and we have strategies that matter; focus on building the infrastructure.


Help Employees Make Connections – Help folks see that their contributions matter.

Reward and Recognize – Communicate that everyone’s contribution to student achievement is meaningful and help folks see their individual contribution to student achievement.

Get the Engagement Part Right – Create and communicate aspirational targets… Engage all to be the best of the best.

When we do these three things and include all levels in planning, cascading, and communicating goals we change the culture of our schools; and when we change the culture, we improve. Check out more takeaways from the #WRIE Twitter feed and continue the conversation on Twitter using the #WRIE or #EBLK12 hashtag.




What’s Right in Education 2013 was an opportunity for educational leaders to connect with other high performing educational leaders, and discuss how to set board and superintendent measures and cascade those across all levels of leadership in the district; identify what “right” looks like in service excellence; and become part of a district leadership collaborative.

“Creating a Culture of Excellence.” Presentation by Dr. JoAnn Sternke, Superintendent, Pewaukee School District, and Mr. Dean Baldhus, Executive Director, Kentucky Center for Performance Excellence – Read here.

“Keep changing the face of education. I am so inspired and motivated.” Day 1 Takeaways from WRIE – Read here.

“More People Next Year and More Sessions on What’s Working.” Post about the presentation by School District of Menomonee Falls Principals and Teachers at WRIE – Read here.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the sixth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.