Blog Archives

The Guts to (Self)-Serve

The district is considering contracting-out services, and your position is on the line.  You have data – both hard and soft – demonstrating the negative side of such a move.  But wouldn’t presentation of your case just be an obvious attempt to look out for yourself?

There’s more talk about budget cuts, and the need to combine positions.  Personnel will, inevitably be, on the chopping block. This is the time to sing your own praises – and, in fact, you’re more versatile and adaptable than others in the department.  Although your self-interest meshes with the company’s interests, won’t you just look like an opportunist if you speak up?

Many of us engage in a year-round search for balance between wanting to be anonymous and wanting to be noticed, wanting to give and hoping to receive, wanting to appear humble and needing to represent your strengths in a forthright manner.  This drive for reconciliation of opposing emotions was at the foundation of my obsession yesterday about an article sent to me by my co-consultant with Education Compliance Group, good friend, and most respected HR professional Mark Hinson.  His cover email stated “Interesting article making the case for sexual harassment training in person.”  Mark had recognized an opportunity for us to publicize the valuable training and consultation services we offer via Education Compliance Group on employee-employee sexual harassment.

The December 9, 2013 article, by a respected consultant/ trainer in Mark’s region strongly implies that recent court opinions on a particular workplace sexual harassment case had blasted the use of a training video, shown to both employees and management alike, which provided “no opportunity for interactive dialog with a professional trainer.”  In fact, the case that triggered the article is nearly two years old.  While inferences could be drawn about the courts’ preferences for in-person training, the judicial opinions involved were far more vague about the necessity for specific training methods.

The article’s author knew a good publicity angle when she saw it.  I found it somewhat self-serving, but was – and am – absolutely ready to get on the bandwagon with a Legal Routes article about the value of our in-services about employee-to-employee sexual harassment.  You see, I have the guts to self-serve if it’s in my readers’ and colleagues’ best interests.  I’ll segue into discussion about my initial forays into using Skype and other methods to provide cost-effective front-row, interactive training to school transporters without my ever having to get on a plane. I believe completely in the absolute benefits an entity can gain by having customized training programs with an instructor at the site who can help personnel understand what the issues mean to them.  I soundly buy into in the comparative value of a “real” person, available to tailor training to the needs of a particular state, region, company, or district over a generic video product – let alone, one that may be stale or not directly relevant to the industry.

The question is not the value of the service available, but the motive of the person advocating use of the service. With mixed motives, should the potential to be seen as too obvious, too opportunistic water down my approach.

It’s a broader question, if you’ll follow me down the crossroads of my mind and tie these questions into the scenarios at the beginning of this blog. What if you have an idea that will benefit students but also show off your talents and strategies?  What if you see the value of creation of a new position that you’re just the person to fill?  Are you hesitant to advance your ideas – especially if you stand to gain from adoption?  How do you feel about shameless self-promotion. . . .if it would be good for your organization and its mission?

Well, I’m going to push ahead with my article.  I’m banking on Legal Routes subscribers focusing more on the points I’ll make about training concerns and less on the fact that I’m shamelessly marketing my company’s services.  I think it comes down to this: If the people you serve will be better off because you spoke up, then speak up.  What do you think?

The Guts to Keep Pushing

We’ve all been there. We make a suggestion that we’re certain will make things better. Instead of being greeted with support or acceptance we’re met with waffling, or worse yet, resistance.  Whether it’s stated or not, the message is clear –  “Please move on to other issues.”  Frequently it sounds something like this, “Thank you for your suggestion. We’ll take it under consideration. “

I recently attended an IEP meeting where I was invited to review a student’s progress towards transportation independence. This junior high student with special needs was to be learning “stranger danger” so that she would be able to travel to the neighborhood bus stop safely. Eventually, the goal was that she would be capable of getting to school as her non-disabled peers do. This student was very “high-functioning” and just needed to learn some safety habits. It would not have been unreasonable to expect her to not require special education transportation at all by her sophomore year in high school. Read the rest of this entry

Asking For Help

This is the third post in our series “The Guts of Leadership.”

General John Barry was the executive director for the investigation of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. He recently presented for NAPT’s Leading Every Day initiative. Among the many insights he offered about NASA’s mindset prior to the disaster was one which was particularly salient:  “Asking for help is a measure of strength – not weakness. “ Read the rest of this entry

Summer Travel and An Apology to Our Readers

The summer conference and training schedules have dashed our hopes and plans of posting more frequently. We’re truly sorry. We hope to get back to the regular schedule in the fall, filled with new ideas and inspirations from our summer experiences. Peggy is also temporarily on the disabled list recovering from surgery.

One of the benefits of writing this blog is that we get to share frustrations and ideas. We also get to pass on praise and complaints. In that spirit I offer the following.

It has been both a pleasure and an honor to be invited to so many venues. However, the travels have had their highs and lows. Here’s a light look from recent travels: Read the rest of this entry

Resistance to Change – An Unusual Slant

ChangeI have taught many workshop and conference sessions about facilitating change in organizations. In these classes we spend a great deal of time talking about why you need to be a change agent and how to go about succeeding in bringing about change. We review specific strategies for overcoming resistance to change. In fact, I was hired into my current job primarily because of my “expertise” in this particular area of management.

I’ve been working with several people on a project which promises to improve our transportation service for students with special needs. In addition to being right for kids, this new way to think about where students should be picked up and discharged is also right for budgets, and the communities in which these students live. I expected resistance because change is usually difficult and creating large scale change is even more challenging. Woodrow Wilson famously said “If you want to make an enemy, change something.”  I know this, so I expected – and prepared for – resistance.  Usually the opposition shows up as some variation of intentional misunderstanding, rumor generating, questioning the ability to achieve the promised results, fearing extra work, or plain denial. :  I anticipated – and I saw – instances of these and other tactics.  What I was not prepared for were the nay-sayers who objected simply because the suggested changes were progressive. Read the rest of this entry

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