Leadership - Starting the new year right
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Leadership – Starting the new year right

by Adrian Pattra

January 20, 2023

With a year of unexpected changes and high turnover behind us, 2023 is the perfect time for your team to take the lead in their re-induction: boosting performance, cohesion and well-being. Do not worry about signing new contracts or ticking boxes – let them create their benchmark on how they want to work as individuals within a team.


High Expectations


The beginning of the year is a great opportunity to explore what greatness looks like. To ensure the team is operating at its fullest potential, ask the question, “What does great look like?”


I encouraged my team to delve into their ideas on how Educators could have an excellent relationship with parents and families.  An exciting conversation truly showed us the possibilities ahead!


  • Greeting the parents warmly each day
  • Taking the time to learn their names and correct pronunciation
  • Establishing positive, ongoing, timely communication
  • Verbally sharing daily information about their child’s progress
  • Being proactive in efforts to engage with parents, asking about their holidays or visiting
  • grandparents 
  • Building trust and rapport with parents by taking the time to listen and demonstrate empathy
  • Taking the initiative to resolve any concerns or address any questions


The team quickly realised the calibre of success they were aiming for. To achieve this, expectations had to be reset so everyone could understand what would be expected of them – in terms of their work, behaviour, and attitude. This could include simple standards like “what does an organised workspace look like?” and more advanced rules such as how evaluative feedback should be appropriately responded in order to ensure these new expectations are met accordingly.


Embracing Connections


As we embark on a new year, let us make it our mission to strengthen the connection among Educators. Jumpstart your team meetings by asking meaningful questions that foster relationships and prompt individuals to share their successes – otherwise known as “Sharing the Gold.” 


Investing in emotional connections early on, can create an even closer-knit group of colleagues ready for anything.


Use Rituals to Reinforce Healthy, Productive Norms


Rituals are part of everyday life, from sharing a birthday cake to gift exchanging at Christmas.


However, have you ever stopped to think about how these seemingly innocuous activities can help strengthen your team? Rituals foster a sense of community and collective identity that help bridge differences in opinions or perspectives. With the New Year upon us, introduce refreshingly meaningful rituals into your workplace that enhance understanding and pave the way for positive changes!


Below are three examples of rituals used at Farran Street Education that you could also incorporate as workplace rituals:


Reverse Scavenger Hunt


Let us roll out the welcome mat to our new team members! A Reverse Scavenger Hunt is an exciting way to ensure everyone feels included and connected. On their first day, a treasure chest filled with intriguing items awaits them – each belonging to another Educator in the service. As they journey around introducing themselves and seeking clues, a meaningful connection develops between newcomers and existing staff that will last for years ahead.


My Favourite Things Morning Tea


Everyone loves a surprise, and nothing quite says “happy anniversary” like having all your favourite foods prepared to celebrate with you. 


At the My Favourite Things Morning Tea hosted by the team the new Educator is invited on the anniversary of their first year of work.


The chef cooks up an array of dishes based on what they wrote in their “All About Me” form on day one.  It is an unforgettable way to show that we appreciate them being part of our team.


Always Put Families First Raffle


Our Educator pledge is “Always put families first”, and to help bring this pledge into action, we have created a special ritual where colleagues are rewarded for going above and beyond. 


At the beginning of each term, every educator receives ten raffle tickets. If they witness another member of their team doing something extra special to serve a family’s needs in some way (e.g., taking time out from their day to look for a lost sock or offering personalised up-dates), these individuals can be awarded an additional ticket. 


Our “Always put families first” raffle comes at the end of the term, and one lucky winner receives an extra annual leave day as recognition for embodying the pledge throughout Term 1.


2023 presents an ideal opportunity for your team to take the lead in their re-induction and strive towards boosting performance, cohesion and well-being. You can become an unstoppable team by embracing connection, setting high expectations, and introducing rituals that reinforce healthy and productive norms.


About the Author: Adrian Pattra is a management consultant with a Master of Education (Ed. Psychology). He is currently the Education Director of Farran Street Education.

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