Tuesday, 23 February 2010

We are facing another period of real change, real challenge and real opportunity...

I hope that you have had some time to relax, unwind, get rid of some of the knots and recharge the batteries over half-term. This next half-term, in the run up to Easter, is going to be challenging for all of us. On top of the day jobs we’ll be really busy as we continue to wrestle with the huge number of consultations we are involved in, our work on the last pieces of the National Challenge jigsaw and our planning for the World Class Primary Programme, which aims to support those primary schools stuck below the Government's floor targets. We know that this is going to be a tough few months with a general election, local elections, the review of children's services, interim appointments, senior council appointments and a huge agenda to deal with as we struggle with capacity across the company. However, we must remain focused on the things that really matter. We must not be put off by the noise, the clutter, the distractions and the angry voices. Whatever we do, we must never forget that our priority is to continue our relentless and uncompromising focus on improving standards, outcomes, attendance and behaviour... whatever it takes!

I know from bitter experience that these are difficult times so trust, respect, honesty and openness must shape the way we deal with everything we are doing. As we tackle these important issues we must remember that communication is going to be a key element of our work. How we communicate over the next few months with our colleagues, with our schools, with elected members and with our partners and stakeholders is going to be more important than ever. We know that strong, dynamic and proactive communication lies at the heart of any effective organisation but I am told that only 7% of the messages people receive come from what we say. The other 93% is wrapped up in our body language, our tone of voice, our expressions and quite simply how we do things. In a people organisation like ours we need to understand and practice the 93% rule.

Here are a few practical tips we must all consider:
  • Smile;
  • Listen and pay attention;
  • Don’t interrupt or dismiss concerns;
  • Use names;
  • Focus and concentrate;
  • Encourage;
  • Give genuine praise;
  • Take a personal interest;
  • Spend time;
  • Learn.

Remember, however tough things get, simply be your brilliant best.

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