Any governors out there who could give me some advice?(15 Posts)
I'm chair of governors at a school. Any tips on giving feedback to a new governor who is convinced they have the answer to everything. He's very enthusiastic and wants to be helpful, but is pushy, has put several people out already (including myself), makes vocal pronouncements and judgements on decisions taken without knowing any of the background and shows absolutely no awareness that his performance to date has not been great.
Part of the problem is that he has considerable experience of governance in a different (non education) sector and I think he just wants to transfer this knowledge wholesale to the school setting. However, the comments he has made in meetings and to me suggest that at the moment he has limited understanding of the specific requirements of school governance. This is not surprising given that he has only very recently become a governor and I think he's just at the normal first stage of learning when he doesn't know how much he doesn't know. Unfortunately, this stage coincides with him appearing to hold the belief that he does in fact know everything and we're all idiots if we don't take his advice (eye rolling and face pulling when people disagree with him).
He is very keen to introduce some new ideas and I've got to get back to him about them. At the moment, I feel like I'm saying "no" to him all the time because he's just missed the point. I need to find a way to harness his enthusiasm, make him realise he has a lot to learn, and stop him pissing others off. Aaaagh. Any ideas?
Has he gone on the introductory course for governors yet? If not, they might be able to set him straight on a few things.
Does your council run any sessions for new governers? Or perhaps have guidance that they could give you? I know Lambeth does (my DH has just done the training), so perhaps you could approach someone there?
As Chair, could you meet him separately to run through such guidance, and then (as tactfully as possible!) mention a few of the issues that you note above?
No idea how else you could approach, but I am sure others will be along soon. Good luck - he sounds like a real pain!
Could you have a straight talk with him, where you say something about appreciating his enthusiasm and experience, but that in order for all his ideas to have the attention they deserve, you think its important to introduce them slowly and not rock the boat to the point where everyone falls out?!
Basically, some sort of tactful schmooze to contain his 'enthusiasm' and newness until he settles a bit - and has done the intro course!
Apologies if you've already tried this. Sounds tricky.
No advice, just sympathy.
I've met similar and they make the chairs job incredibly difficult.
Thanks all for your comments. He has already gone on the introductory course so knows (or should know) the basics. I suspect I may have to lay it on the line, in the nicest possible way. I feel a bit conflicted about what to do because there is a kernel of usefulness in everything he says, but because of the way he says it, I just get this urge to put my hands over my ears and go "lalalalalalala". Hmm. Must deal with my own issues as well.
Galling as it may be, he might also be a useful thorn in the side. I wonder if there is a tendency in some boards to do things as they have always been done, and just plough on until all the newbies learn the prevailing culture and stop asking questions which are always batted away because "that's not how it's done".
Lend him Dale Carnegie's "How to make friends and influence people".
Yes, do lay it on the line - whilst acknowledging the usefulness aspect of his challenges
he has to be reminded that like Parish Councillors,
he is part of a "body corporate"
he has no power to act alone
and must abide by democratic decisions
pull out his acceptance form and make him read the declarations aloud to you in a quiet situation
I actually agree with Katisha... whilst he does sound a PITA for you as chair, every group trying to get things done and go for progress needs a PITA that will point out new things and not care how they are perceived!
Is he from a healthcare governance background? If so he has probably had to fight tooth and nail for even tiny changes and may be a very useful, insightful person to have around.
There is always room for tact and good people skills though so you should have a discreet word with him. Good luck!
Could you assign him a task, something he could hold subcommittee meetings about, get his teeth into and provide reports back on? Direct and focus his enthusiasm to a more defined area.
My limited experience of being a parent governor was at a small school and we all divided into groups to tackle and better comprehend different focus areas. For me it was finance, i chaired the sub committee and produced simplified reports to present to the core meeting. Full finances were obviously also available but it meant people had a better general picture than the whole committee reviewing every line item. For others it was literacy, numeracy, language, health and safety etc. it meant core meetings were short with a strong agenda and less debate. Most debate was in less formal sub committees.
Things like comparing all documentation and its review schedule to that which ofstead/ estyn say schools should have to that which the school does could be a useful task. It shouldn't tread on toes too much and would bring him upto speed on all the paperwork which he ideally needs to be familiarising himself with anyway.
I think you might find the advice you need over on the UK Governors Forum believe me... all of us have been through it. Sometimes the quiet word outside the meeting is the only way to go, I have even set a governor a distraction project before now to channel their energies in a positive way.
However they can be useful making you review your methodology, so try not to dismiss everything they say. You can always use the ultimate board shut down... "now that is interesting, I would love to discuss that further outside the meeting."
I agree with Katisha.
He may need to modify his tone, but sometimes someone coming in new can 'see' things that people who have been there longer have stopped noticing.
Do you have a governors code of conduct? If so can you re-circulate it to all members and say you want to remind everyone of the areas covered by it so that you remain true to its objectives. Plus if that is too subtle, follow it up afterwards one on one after a meeting. You could say something like, whilst you know he has the best intentions, his enthusiasm to do xxx sometimes comes over to other governors as if he is not always complying with bullet y of your governor code of conduct, then give the example. You think this means that he is not getting the credit for his efforts that he deserves so maybe there might be a different approach possible that could get a better result?
If you don't have a code of conduct sounds like you need one. Happy to PM you one. We sign it at the start of each year.
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