Finding the Best Fit for the Culture of a School

As people are starting to staff or think about staffing for the next year, this is a story I thought about it recently…

Years ago,  I had an interview for a job in a small school.  I felt comfortable about the interview and walked out really confident that I would be the best candidate.  About a day later, I got a call and was told that they were not going to offer the job to me, which I was fine with, but the answer why they said they didn’t hire me on really didn’t make much sense.  It was shared with me that my ideas in education were a little progressive for the staff and although they knew that what I was sharing was where they wanted to go, if they added me to the staff, my enthusiasm might actually isolate many people and become divisive.  I will be honest, I thought, “If this is the reason why they are not hiring me, it is a stupid reason.”  I can’t tell you if the reason was valid, but I can share what I was told.

Fast forward to a story I was listening to in a presentation.  They were talking about a sales company and how they had one salesperson that was selling far more than everyone else.  In my head, if your purpose is sales, this would be a good thing.  But then, they actually let the person go because of how they were in the environment.  My head immediately went back to the interview.  Why would they let a high achiever go?  Then they explained what happened after.  As soon as the person left, the total sales of the entire business went up. Although no one ever reached that level, as a team, they sold more as a company than they ever had before.  The top salesperson was so obsessed with being ahead, that they were not helpful to other members of the team and would keep secrets focused on competition and being the “best” rather than helping others at the company.

I hope the situations were not the same, but I finally understood why I wasn’t hired.  I might have been the best person for the “job” but not necessarily the best person for the “environment” or the culture, at the time. Sometimes a positive addition can harm a culture, and sometimes a positive subtraction can have a positive impact on the culture as well.

My former principal was a master of building culture through hiring. She might have had a “Grade Two” teacher leave,  but she would post for openings for an elementary teacher.  She didn’t want to limit an addition to the staff with a specific position but always looked for the best person to add to the culture and how their strengths and experiences would benefit the school as a whole.  She was always looking to build culture, not hire for a position only.

In education, the focus is to accelerate the school as a whole, not only the individual.  The success of both should be interconnected.

Source: George Couros