I am going to start by putting it out there that I am not perfect.
But, as a school business manager I do take pride in doing things properly and to the best of my ability.
Many of us working within the education business management sector have backgrounds in finance, HR, marketing and administration.
Where our underlying core values include:
- Professional behaviour
We have a strong morale compass. We aim to ensure that processes are done properly and procedures are followed; and we value the same core values in those around us.
So, giving up control is difficult, as Business Managers we like to make sure that things get done and completed to a good standard. At times we are trying to do everything all at once and juggling various demands on our time. But, it is not possible to run an organisation which is the size of a small business on our own effectively, however good we are. It is exhausting and long term it is not sustainable or healthy.
Also, School Business Managers concerns often include:
- Lack of time
- Lack of resources
- Unmanageable workload
- Volume of operational tasks
- Breadth of areas and tasks to be covered
How to make it more manageable…
1. Get your staffing structure right – fill the skills gaps
Recruiting new employees or external providers with skills that compliment your own is refreshing and liberating. If you are good at HR and have the CIPD qualification. Bring in someone with great finance skills, who has done AAT, or is part-qualified as CIPFA, CIMA or ACCA. It brings a different dimension and diversity to business management.
Business Managers working in primary settings can set up a model that is more akin to a secondary school. Even with smaller teams you can have staff that specialise in key areas, it’s good career development and succession planning.
2. Be a good coach
Putting in place a really good induction process, quality CPD provision and coaching has been effective in previous public and private sector settings that I have worked in. For example, allocating a buddy system for new starters.
Ensuring time is set aside for someone to go through key policies and procedures.
The only person you should be competitive with is yourself. Don’t be initimidated if you interview someone who is ambitious and you think they will be after your job.
Earlier in my career I would have had a different view point in this, but I am comfortable with who I am, what I am capable of; and I put a considerable amount of time in to staying up to date with developments, networking and improving my practice.
I love appointing new staff with skills and experience that are going to improve what we do and ultimately improve the education and opportunities we provide for our pupils.
Everything we do is all about making a positive impact on outcomes for pupils.
3. Learn to delegate effectively
If you don’t like delegating you need to get to grips with why that is. Is it because you are a perfectionist? You don’t trust anyone to do it as well? You want it done right now?
Is the real reason that you haven’t had the time to show someone else how to do the task?
This may take more of your time the first time that person does it, but it is going to save you time in the long run.
4. Monitor progress
Have you been let down in the past when you have trusted someone to get a task done and it hasn’t happened; or it wasn’t completed to your standard? Then again this could be down to adjusting the way you manage and support your team.
There are a number of ways to monitor progress:
- Tracking documents
- Daily/weekly team meetings
- Task logging systems
- 1:1 meetings
- Effective performance management
- Open door policy
- Audit reports
5. Recruitment – seize the opportunity!
When you have the opportunity to recruit new team members, plan carefully what and who you are looking for, identify the skills gaps in your team. Make sure the job description, advertisement and recruitment process is going to find you the person you need, with the right skills, qualifications and personality/working style. Do not just use the old job description, embrace the opportunity to re-evaluate the schools needs.
You are never going to get the best from someone if you overload (this includes you too!). This problem is really hard to tackle in a small organisation, you don’t have the financial resources to employee lots of support staff.
Employing an apprentice can be a really cost effective way of adding additional resource, but you do need to consider who will do the training, supporting, coaching and mentoring, which will be needed for it to be successful. Also, ensuring that you provide them with experiences that will set them up well for the next stage of their career. They aren’t there to do all the jobs that no one else wants to!