Bringing new team members into the existing culture

In the Performing stage, individuals or small groups within the school leadership team will occasionally challenge existing structures. But this is not necessarily disruptive. These challenges should be expected and can be resolved by using set criteria and processes established by the team in earlier stages.

In most cases, the whole team makes all major decisions affecting the school in line with its shared purpose. Leaders selected by the group help the team stay aware of how projects and ideas fit into the bigger picture. They also help the team ensure that tasks are appropriately delegated according to set priorities. Team members might further ask leaders to help with issues like personal and interpersonal development.

The team development cycle in the Performing stage does not take place in any perfect order. Many teams go through the Storming, Norming, and Performing stages several times as changes bring new circumstances. For example, hiring a new leader or a few new teachers might cause your team to revisit the Storming stage as newcomers challenge team dynamics. A team might also revisit Storming as it assesses its progress and adjusts an aspect of its culture or learning program.

When your team is in the Performing stage, you should spend time learning how to get better at bringing new team members on board, dealing with leadership changes, and improving continuously without suffering cultural upheaval. You should also learn to recognize when going back to the Storming stage could actually be good for the team and school’s success.

Bringing in new team members

Every time your team brings a new member on board—whether teachers, leaders, or other personnel—you will need to go through an “on-boarding process.” Helping new team members learn what it means to work at your school is key to ensuring the team’s ongoing success.

Existing teams say that it takes time for new people to adjust to the unconventional cultures they encounter—even people who indicate a strong desire and willingness to work in a teacher-powered school.

Most people’s previous employment and training experiences probably involved top-down management structures, strict adherence to a collective bargaining agreement, and conventional learning programs. Teacher-powered schools operate very differently and are even different from one another. Teams must be intentional about on-boarding newcomers to alleviate the potential for cultural disruption.

Author tip

Revisit the Storming stage step developing a design team as you integrate new team members into your existing school culture and team.

Resources

Discussion Starters.

Teams starting or improving a teacher-powered school should use this resource to explore how to clarify responsibilities of new team members and provide mentorship and support to new personnel.

Website.

Teacher-powered schools report using Marcus Buckingham’s books and tools as a means to help their teams break habitual behaviors developed in conventional schools and teacher training institutions.

Procedural document.

At San Francisco Community School the Developmental Leadership Teams (grade-level teams) use this document to guide discussions about their teacher-powered governance model and processes. The document also helps veterans integrate new hires into the school's inner workings and culture. If grade-level teams want to seek clarification or change of an aspect of the governance model, they put the discussion topic on the full team meeting agenda.