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A Higher “Talent Quotient” for Stronger Enrollment

By Net Assets posted 04-19-2018 09:28 AM

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Human Resources |

Staff quality “goes up in years and down in minutes.” Don’t risk even one poor hiring decision.

The best way to build enrollment is to hire and retain the best faculty for your school, argued Scott Baron, CEO of School Growth, in a recent NBOA webinar called “Finding the Gold in Your Human Resources Filing Cabinet.” Citing a consistent pattern in his firm’s work with schools, he said those “dedicated to making their faculty their first target market … are growing faster and building economic sustainability.” Data show students and parents pick and stick with schools first and foremost for quality faculty engagement, said Baron. “It’s not even close what the second factor is.”

Because faculty are so important to a school’s financial health, Baron urged independent school HR teams to “think more like a catalyst” in their recruitment practices.

Conducting a Talent Audit

Begin by conducting a talent audit of current faculty to identify top, bottom and average performers, Baron said. A performance rubric can measure on a scale of one to three how clearly teachers understand the school’s mission, how much they want to succeed in their job and how capable they are of doing so. Then put the faculty members into a bell curve to identify the top and bottom performers. There will likely be disagreements about values assigned to different teachers, “so part of this process is creating a common language.”

What separates best from worst performers is most likely attitude, according to Baron. “Very seldom is it about skills. It’s much more about their attitude, their willingness to learn and be coached and receive feedback, and their willingness to build relationships both with their peers as well as with parents and students. It ties back to their commitment to the mission and their willingness to give that extra effort.”

After auditing the faculty, calculate your school’s “talent quotient” (TQ), Baron said. He defined that as “the ratio of your ‘threes’ — those who meet or exceed expectations — as compared to your ‘twos’ and ‘ones.’” In his experience, most schools have TQ of around 20 to 25 percent.

Improving the Team

The easiest way to boost a school’s talent quotient is “to eliminate underperforming faculty from the team,” said Baron. “Being able to move out a couple folks that qualify as the bottom 20 percent or finding a path for them to move into a different position or retraining … [has] the biggest impact.”

Avoid trying to change the TQ too quickly, he cautioned; more than a 10 percent change following each performance assessment could be disruptive. “If you go in and start ripping things up, that has consequences as well, so we aren’t advocating for that. We are advocating for a disciplined process. You love your faculty. You’re building trust relationships with them, but you’re also being very clear about expectations.”

He also advised hiring candidates who first and foremost understand the school’s mission, rather than hiring to fill a role based on previous experience. “Many schools get themselves in trouble because they hire for the position, and then hope they get the mission, culture and strategies right,” said Baron. The talent quotient “goes up in years and down in minutes,” he said. “It takes just one poor hiring decision to take your talent quotient down, but raising it requires significant investment in your people, and it takes time to cultivate high performers.”

Another strategy for hiring better: Look at the top and bottom 20 percent of performers and identify what is consistent across their resumes, references, interviews and talent assessments. Anything that regularly pops up might be a good predictor of performance.

For more information on the role of HR in building and retaining an outstanding faculty, including ideas about onboarding and offboarding, watch the webinar or read the transcript.

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