Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Staff Motivation

Unit 3

The key to effective leadership is the ability to get results from other people, through other people and in conjunction with other people. If the underlying psychology is wrong, the most carefully constructed system and techniques will fail.

An efficient school head may not necessarily be an effective school head if his or her relationship with the staff is poor. But if relationships are good and the staff is motivated, some administrative or environmental flaws will readily be overlooked.

Individual study time: 3 hours

Learning outcomes
At the end of this unit you should be able to:

¨ define the meaning of motivation
¨ understand the principles of motivation and its application
¨ identify factors which can enhance or weaken levels of motivation.

What is motivation?
Motivation is concerned with the cause of behaviour: why people act, speak or think in a particular way. School heads need to know how to motivate. They need to 'get results through people' or 'get the best out of people'.

This is most likely to be achieved if the school head helps the staff experi­ence job satisfaction. This is known as intrinsic motivation, which comes from within, and not extrinsic motivation which is too often based on fear. Results will then be the best that the teacher can produce and be more likely to be in line with the overall goals and ethos of the school.

Principles of motivation

The staff should be involved in decision‑making and in matters which affect them directly. The more the staff becomes involved, the more they will have a sense of ownership in decisions and be prompted to help in achieving the objectives. Involving the staff in decision‑making does not alter the fact that the school head remains accountable for taking the final decisions and for their results. This is very important. There should be accountability at all levels. Members of staff are accountable to the headteacher in all they do. However, it is the responsibility of the head to ensure that the quality of work carried out by all is of the highest standard. Thus, he / she is accountable for all that goes on in the school.

If the staff is informed about the objectives and the results achieved, they are inclined to co‑operate more and feel that they are part (members) of the staff (group). The opposite is also true: if staff do not know what they are supposed to be achieving, they will show little interest and have little moti­vation. Staff should not only be informed about results, but also about changes and progress. The good leader will be an effective communicator.

If staff members receive the necessary recognition for work done, they will be inclined to work harder. Recognition should be given to the staff member as a person and not just as a human resource. This might be done in a variety of ways both formal and informal. Teachers who have achieved good results who have performed well might be mentioned in staff meetings or, equally effectively, a quiet word of thanks and praise could make all the difference to a way a person feels about what they do. Written praise and recognition is also important as it forms a record and is often seen as having greater emphasis. This could range from positive entries in the school log book, certificate for attendance at workshops, articles in the school newsletter or even a merit award for the “teacher of the month” based on issues such as “the best kept classroom”, “the best learning environment”, “improved attendance and punctuality” and “the most improved results”. These are all examples tried and tested in some Guyanese schools.

Delegated authority
A school head should be prepared to delegate authority to capable people. In this way a person's post is enhanced, and this serves as a means of personnel development. Delegated authority also means that more people will be allowed to make decisions themselves in connection with their work, within set guidelines. See Unit 5, Module 2 Principles of Educational Leadership, for more details on delegation.

Reflecting on your own school situation, what do you consider to be the needs of your staff. How are these needs met now? How can they be better met in the future?

When considering the needs of your staff, you will have thought about their personal as well as professional needs. Although you will be more concerned with the latter, the school cannot function without personal needs being met. Motivation is often more about personal than professional. Issues such as remuneration, the need to belong and the provision of good staff facilities amongst others might all be factors which you may have identified..

Whether those needs are currently being met in your school is a matter for your own personal judgement. Be honest, however and give some thought to what the ideal situation might be and how close you are able to get in achieving it.

Motivating staff
The principles of motivation outlined above indicate that there are a variety of factors which influence an individual's level of motivation at work. The school head, therefore, should not only have some knowledge of the staff but should bear in mind all the different factors which can enhance or weaken motivation. These factors can be divided into four groups: the personal needs of all human beings, factors inherent in the work situation, management methods and the social system as reflected in the community. Let us consider each of them.

Personal needs
The needs of every person should be taken into account, such as the need for recognition, the need to achieve, the need to be a valued person in the community, the need for self‑respect and for friendship. If a teacher occupies a temporary post, there is a need for work security. Merit awards and promotion can give the necessary recognition of teachers' achievements. Non‑recognition of achievements has a demotivating effect on teachers and can lead to high staff turnover. A sense of responsibility should be cultivated as well as pride in the quality of work done.

Work situation
Factors related to the work itself may also affect levels of motivation, for instance, the nature and type of work, the opportunities for group identity, the chances of promotion, the work environment, the opportunities and challenges of the work such as the opportunities for creativity and renewal. Monotony and routine can be demotivating. Routine work leads to frustra­tion and boredom and to a lack of motivation. One solution can be to rotate some routine activities so that boring chores do not always have to be done by the same person.

Management factors
The quality of leadership affects behaviour, attitudes and effort. Positive interpersonal relationships are regarded as strengthening motivation. In this respect, communication is of great importance. Teachers like to know and should know what is expected of them and how their tasks form part of a total plan. This should be coupled with competent and fair leadership which sets out acceptable tasks together with clear guidelines.

The school head is responsible for planning, guiding and leading the school. Tasks are delegated to teachers, and if a participatory management style is used, with teachers' efforts valued, motivation to work hard is likely to be strong.

Community factors
If the community's values (whether religious, moral, economic, cultural, political or social) differ from those of the teacher, these community factors will have a demotivating effect on the teacher. The personal lives of teachers, such as their relationships with their families, will also influence their behaviour. The head has little control over such motivating factors, but he or she has to deal with the situation if it has a negative effect on a teacher's work.

Therefore it would seem that to motivate staff effectively, a school head should have knowledge of their personal needs, their work circumstances, the requirements of the community, and use an appropriate management style.

Activity 3.1
Imagine a situation where you have encountered a teacher whose pupils' academic results were poor, who was unable to create a positive classroom atmosphere, who had problems with class discipline and who had very little interest in the extra‑curricular activities of the school.

How would you seek to improve this teacher's performance?

Motivation and the school head
We should remember to use the 'motivators', that is, people's need for achievement, recognition, responsibility, job interest, personal growth and advancement potential. We tend to underestimate the needs of other people in these areas. Involving others in decisions which affect them is one way of meeting all or most of these needs. School heads should avoid window-dressing.

The relative intensity of psychological needs will vary greatly from person to person and from time to time. There are people whose motivation is not work related. If a teacher's spouse loses his or her job, security needs may well be the most important. If there is a marriage break‑up, both secu­rity and social needs may surface, though these may be followed later by a need to find renewed interest and achievement in the job.

These are predictable and often recognisable behavioural phenomena. However, when symptoms and causes are less obvious, the risk is that we misjudge the needs of colleagues or friends. Some of us have a tendency to assume that the needs of others are the same as our own; others tend to assume the opposite.

We should try to suit our management behaviour to both the personali­ties and the needs of the situation. Our automatic behavioural reaction may not be the right one. Think about the alternatives!

Despite every effort, there will remain individuals who have no wish to be 'motivated' and who view with suspicion any attempt to increase their responsibilities, job interest or involvement. Such attitudes may typically be found in teachers who are frustrated. However, the danger is always that we give up too easily. The right approach may prompt a surprisingly warm response.

Above all, it is necessary for a school head to establish by means of honest self‑evaluation what the true nature is of his or her attitude towards staff. It is important that this introspection is honest and open, because expe­rience has shown that it will determine the way a head leads and moti­vates the staff. It is indubitably true that the way in which heads treat their staff will, to a great extent, be determined by their outlook on life, their atti­tudes to motivation as the basis of human behaviour, and the judgement they make of people's behaviour in a specific working situation.

When considering motivation, think firstly of your own needs and try to put yourself “in the shoes” of the other. If members of staff are behaving badly, are poorly motivated, underperforming or even showing antagonism towards you, there will be a reason why. It may be that your attitude towards them or your leadership style creates resentment in them. You should always consider this possibility. This does not mean to say, however, that all demotivating factors are solvable. Issues such as pay, class sizes, working in schools where the children are mainly of lower ability may negatively impact on teacher motivation and there may be little you can do about it.

As the recognised leader of the school community the head has the respon­sibility for helping staff members get satisfaction from their profession and move towards the fulfilment of their needs and objectives. It is through improving levels of motivation that these needs and objectives can be met.

It is the responsibility of the headteacher to assess the situation in the school relating to staff motivation and, where it is having a negative impact on the quality of learning and teaching and standards generally, to put into place strategies to overcome them.

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