I have been reading more of Karren Brady’s book, this time a section about brand management and customers. It got me thinking about the similarities between running a business like a football club and that of a school.
A football club like a school doesn’t manufacturer anything. A football club generates its income from ticket sales (we get money for each pupil, with possible extra funding available) and product sales as an add on i.e. shirts, programmes, memorabilia (we have events that bring in extra money). Importantly just like a football supporter is unlikely to change the club they support, a family is unlikely to change the school they choose to send their children to.
We are in the business of customer experience, customer service and added value.
Bare with me here, I promise I am still talking about teaching children.
To put it in to more of a vision, our aim is to provide every child with the best possible start to their academic life, through delivering quality teaching and learning; exciting experiences that ensure they love school and learning; building independence and helping them to develop socially and emotionally so they can cope with what the world expects.
Of course that’s no problem, easy peasy.
We are in the unusual position that we connect with our ‘customer base’ every day. We get feedback on the quality of our service constantly. Depending on the demographics of your area this feedback will come in a variety of forms: a conversation at the end of the day with a teacher; a Facebook post or comment; a thank you card from a student; a letter of complaint to the Chair of Governors; parent view; a chat with the Receptionist; a phone call from a local member of the community… all of this information is powerful and how you handle and respond to it is key.
So, getting back to my original point about service delivery, we are in the business of getting the best out of people, just like the corporate team from a football club.
Karren Brady’s advice of how to achieve this is by finding out: Who are they? What are their ambitions?
Every member of staff needs to understand where the school is going; how it is going to get there; know the value of each individuals role and be a champion for it. That’s good brand management, everyone promoting it.
Look at an organisation like John Lewis, it is a slick set up. Everyone is trained to do their role effectively, everyone knows where the company is going, how it will get there; and they value each other.
Imagine in a school every member of staff understanding that without teachers there is no curriciulm or lesson plans or marked work.
That without the 1:1 teaching assistant the child they support with a autism is going to find accessing that planned activity much more difficult.
Without the cleaning team, there would be noone to clear as much of the glitter out of the carpet after that amazing creative arts activity, that is now a beautiful display in the main corridor.
Without the Health & Safety lead reminding everyone about the correct way to lift items, it could just stop a member of staff really hurting their back.
That without the admin team, that letter you needed to go out to every family by 3:15pm today just wouldn’t have happened.
That without the school business manager, there would be even less money to spend on resources.
That without Headteacher who would make those really, really difficult exclusion decisions.
Everyone plays a vital role.
Everyone is important.
Everyone is part of the brand.
So, think very carefully, about what you expect, how you share your vision and how you respond to feedback. Work with people who you admire and who are talented; and invest in them.
Remember negative comments stay around a lot longer than positive ones!
Sometimes we need to stop and think, put a bit of distance and remind ourselves that it is not personal. Not easy to do in a school, it can become very personal if you are passionate about what you do.
Take a step back.. think about what does the business need? How am I going to deliver it?
One last point that really reasonated with me… “It is more important to learn than to teach”.
Finally, think about you as a brand. What you say, what you write and what you do is all part of your brand.