The Bank Balance and Staff Morale


With schools being busy and it feeling like the only constant is change, educational leaders, are always finding that they are making many requests of teachers and support staff. While many of the changes in schools are externally driven there are also many internally directed changes that add to everyone’s workload.

Leaders need to be concerned when requests become a bit too much for teachers and support staff and people feel a sense of being overwhelmed. It is in this situation that school leaders need to think carefully about their relationships with their colleagues and what they are expecting of them. I find thinking about this in the way that we manage our finances and keeping an eye on our bank balance.

Certainly, many requests of teachers and support staff are related to doing their job well and improving the school, however, it is essential to be mindful of the amount of time that is available to complete these tasks. Accountability without support will lead to a low or declining staff morale in schools, which needs to be avoided. School leaders need to build credit with their teams by improving staff morale through ensuring that the work environment is as stress-free as possible making it possible for everyone to do the best job possible with a positive attitude to doing so. Too many ‘hard asks’ of staff can wipe away any credit that leaders may have built up and leave them significantly in debt, writing cheques that they cannot cash.

Every now and then check your relationship bank balance when you next ask for something from a colleague or your whole staff: Are you in credit or deficit?

photo credit: credit via photopin (license)

Originally posted at

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  1. Richard, This is a terrific post, and hits home at this time of year when educators, students, and leaders are somewhat saturated after a busy, productive year. I think there are many strategies that school teams can employ to stave off this credit loss including good upfront planning at the start of the year, delegation, and prioritizing. But, as you suggest, no matter how much preparation you do, there will be times when the bank balance has to be checked and restored. I appreciate your perspective and direction.

    April 11, 2015
    • Thanks for the feedback Maureen. One of the things I try to consciously keep on my mind, is how are the staff doing. I try to use a number of conversations to draw some conclusions on this and then respond accordingly. Knowing when to push and back off are key attributes of good leaders. Best wishes.

      April 17, 2015
  2. Allan R. Bonilla, Ed.D said:

    One of the most important things principals can do is to support and protect our teachers, especially in today’s environment.

    April 11, 2015
    • Agreed. We cannot have accountability without offering support.

      April 17, 2015
  3. Merryl said:

    I am a teacher in New Zealand. We are presently having a two week holiday. Unfortunately I have so much written work to do I do not feel this is a holiday at all but a catch up time. I am a hard working teacher also holding Deputy Principal responsibilities.

    I read this article and it really hit home. As a DP too with teachers whom I work with I wonder what I can do???!!! If I feel like this then they must too. Not sure what the answer is but I shared the article with others. perhaps awareness will help bring positive changes for the future.


    April 11, 2015
    • Hi Merryl, being in educational leadership can make everything appear important and urgent. Stephen Covey has a lot to say about this in his book 7 Habits… The problem is often associated with us trying to alwyas do more, starting new things but we do not consider what we need to stop. In helping those in leadership positions that I work with, I do ask them to show me their ‘to do list’ and spend time identifying the priorities. Some things must get left until later – in some cases, if you do not have something already, it may not matter whether you have it now or in 6 months, so long as it does not get continually put off. I also try to spend a lot of my time looking at ways for us to be more efficient, so that we be more productive in terms of quality in what we do. Best wishes.

      April 17, 2015
  4. Rebecca Petrone said:

    This is an excellent article. As an individual who was a school base support staff, and now at the district level, I see this all too often, only exacerbated by the prior year budget cuts. And thank you, because many times, the support staff can be over-looked in the education system, but they do play a vital role to the students and schools.

    April 13, 2015
    • Absolutely Rebecca, leaders can forget their support staff. They are a vital cog in our school system. We must spend time investing in them and appreciating them. Too often, they are a second thought but should be considered as high a priority as teachers.

      April 17, 2015

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