Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Compensation Process

Determining how to compensate someone for their performance can be a difficult process. As I read Chapter 11 The Compensation Process, it made the process seem even more difficult. Often time with this type of process, there is a lot of gray area.

As a teacher, you often hear that we don't get paid enough for the job that we do. I happen to agree with this statement. However, being a teacher is a goal that I have had since the third grade. I had an amazing teacher that inspired me to continue her work as an adult. Going into the teaching profession, I knew that I would never be rich. This was no big secret, but at the same time I didn't care. If I did, I certainly wouldn't be a teacher. I believe that I was put on this earth to be a teacher and I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way.

In this chapter I especially found the History of the Single Salary Schedule interesting. My great grandmother was a teacher in the early 1900's so I found it very interesting to see how the process has changed since then.

Generally speaking, as long as I can pay my bills and by things for my classroom, I am not going to fuss much about my salary. There are definitely more important things in life than money (although money is sometimes helpful!) :)

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pay for Performance: Good Practice or Bad?

Recently, I wrote a paper analyzing the benefits and pitfalls of using Performance Evaluations in organizations. After much research, including a very persuasive article by Fred Nickols, I ultimately decided that Performance Evaluations aren’t the best use of time or money for large for-profit organizations. However, for teachers I believe that should be held accountable by use of Performance Evaluations. I am a teacher and the county in which I work uses Performance Evaluation as one measure of teacher performance. Another incentive for teacher for performance is an incentive called MAP Pay. This is a monetary incentive that teachers can receive based on the reading gains made by their students during the year. I think that it is fantastic that the county in which I work is trying to reward teachers who are working hard; however, there are several faults with this system from my perspective. First, I only teach math, science and social studies…. If you read carefully above a red flag should have gone up right here. If the MAP Pay is based on reading gains, how can I rightfully be assessed on a subject that I don’t teach? Until this year, this fact has never been a problem because my teaching partner always made the appropriate gains. This year, my teaching partner made the appropriate gains with our students and she got the incentive money and I did not. This also happened with my co-teacher and her reading partner. We teach the same kids and she got the incentive and I did not. How can this be? (Insert disclaimer here.) In no way am I trying to blame my teaching partner at all. The data showed that she did meet the gains that were required for this incentive. The problem is at the county level. I think that they need to rethink the way they distribute incentive pay. Perhaps, teachers should be assessed on what they actually teach? That would be one place to start. Even more frustrating is that it is not hard to “fudge” the beginning of year scores in order to reflect greater growth at the end of the year. There are plenty of teachers who have received this incentive who don’t rightfully deserve it (in my opinion anyways). Meanwhile, I stay at work late, arrive early, invest in my students outside of school, lead teachers so they can have a positive affect on their students, and hold a position on the leadership team. If that is not worth a performance incentive, I don't know what is.

Since the crushing revelation of not receiving this type of incentive, I have written my appeal and washed my hands of it. If I get the money, great! If not, oh well. Amassing a great amount of money is clearly not why I am a teacher.

With all that I have read and studied about Performance Evaluations and Human Resources issues. This system clearly has some major flaws.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Target: Fun, Fast, and Friendly

Today I got an opportunity to interview an Executive Team Leader of Human Resources for a Target store in my neighborhood. Upon the arrival of our meeting time, I was so excited to conduct the interview for several reasons: A) I LOVE Target!, B) This aspect of an organization is not one with which I am entirely familiar with and C) I think Target has a very unique culture and atmosphere that keeps me coming back.

In our interview I asked a lot of questions about her position as an HR leader. A lot of our conversation related to what I have been reading in class from the Human Resources Administration for Educational Leaders by M. Scott Norton. At first glance, a store such as Target and an elementary school don’t seem like they would have much in common (in regards to HR), the reality of it is that they do! When hearing about this friend’s job as an HR leader, I related it to the job of a principal. When asked what challenges she faces on a day-to-day basis, she said that it is hard to get the scheduling activities done and still be a cheerleader for her Team Members (or workers). The “cheerleading” part of her job relates back to the text when it mentioned the importance of coaching (pg. 203).

Another point of today’s interview that I thought related back to the text was when she mentioned that all new Team Members have to create a Learning Development Plan. After shadowing and working with a mentor, the mentor has the opportunity to sign off on the LDP. This type of plan is suggested in the text (pg. 205); however, it is called a Talent Development Plan. She mentioned that this type of plan allows the new talent to have an organized idea of what is expected while working at Target. This shows that Target cares about its employees and doesn’t have a “Sink or Swim” type of attitude. I wonder how Wal-Mart’s guides new employees compared to Target? Compared to the text that we have been reading for class, it seems that she is approaching Human Resources in all the right ways.

Here are a few things that I learned about Target that I didn’t know before:

  • Target’s motto among Team Members is “Fast, Fun, and Friendly”
  • Team Members who work in the Photo Department, Starbucks, and snack area make more money than cashiers or Team Members who work on the floor.
  • Target is extremely involved in giving back to the community. (I already knew this; however, I think it’s important to note.)
  • Filling out the customer surveys is important because the employees get good comments posted in a common area. Sometimes the CEO Gregg Steinhafel will recognize employees’ good work by writing a letter of appreciation and thanks.
  • LOD=Leader on Duty, ETL= Executive Team Leader, STL= Store Team Leader
  • Target Garden Centers are closing. :(

I certainly enjoyed my time today with this friend and appreciate her speaking candidly to me about her position as the Executive Team Leader of Human Resources.

Thanks for reading (and don’t forget to shop at Target!),
Ashley :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Three P's For High-Performing Employees

Arguably, the most important component of an organization is the people. If an organization expects to be successful, it is essential to keep the employees happy. Dealing with people can prove to be a very challenging task. By nature, humans are very complicated beings and each person’s needs differ. Even though some may vary, there are several underlying “needs” that are imperative for employees to be as high performing as possible. First and foremost, everyone wants to be treated respectfully and feel appreciated. Fostering Positive Relationships is one of the most important aspects of creating an environment for high-performing employees to flourish. Next, employers should provide “Just In Time” Professional Development and training for employees. Employees who are trained to conduct their job correctly, waste less time and are able to focus on the organization’s goals and objectives. Finally, employees should be provided with the Proper Materials in order to be successful in their efforts. A baseball manager wouldn’t send his team onto the field without bats, balls or helmets. This situation wouldn’t allow for his team to be successfully during the game. The same is true for the workplace. Proper materials must be provided to create an environment that is conducive for “home runs” in organizations. Remembering these three P’s, will help ensure that your employees can be as High-Performing as possible in order to contribute to the success of the organization.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lucky Girl

This week I read Chapter 4 & 5 from the text Human Resources Administration for Educational Leaders by M. Scott Norton. While reading the text I had several connections to my position as a teacher at Chets Creek Elementary. In Chapter 4: The Recruitment Process, the author suggested that in order to improve job satisfaction and prevent the loss of teachers, principals and other leaders should pay more attention to motivation factors. The motivation factors that he listed were: 1) create a climate of appreciation, 2) help employees understand how important they are to the system, 3) add variety and interest to the workplace, 4) increase employee responsibility and respect, 5) encourage continuous and personal improvement and 6) allow them to use personal initiative and to set their own goals. (pg. 126) I am fortunate to say that the leader at my school, Susan Phillips, is a master at all of these suggestions. She is especially good at creating a climate of appreciation for her teachers. There doesn’t seem to be a day that goes by where she doesn’t sincerely thank us for the work that we do. As often as she can, she showers us with different surprises that show how much she appreciates us. We definitely feel the love!

Another suggestion that the book gave was to allow teachers to answer an assignment interest questionnaire at least once a year. (pg. 127) This is another protocol that is standard at my school. Every January, Mrs. Phillips asks us to fill out our requests for the following school year. In my opinion, she tries very hard to fulfill all requests. In my six years of working at Chets, my teaching wish has been granted. This is pretty much the same for everyone who works at my school. For this reason, the voluntary turnover rate at my school is practically nonexistent. My school is a pretty fantastic place to call home.

While reading Chapter 5: The Selection Process, I was astounded at how much effort goes into hiring personnel. When I was hired six years ago, I was hired late in the summer. The school was rushing to fill this position and I got hired after one interview. Admittedly I didn’t know much about what it really meant to be a teacher. The text stated that sometimes in interviews people would be asked to perform tasks (performance interview) on the spot such as “teach us why we invert and multiply in the division of fractions.” Yikes!! I was lucky enough to remember my name in my interview, much less teaching a table full of interviewers a complex mathematical concept. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have passed a performance interview if I had been given one.

Although this reading was somewhat technical it gave me a good idea of how the recruitment and candidate selection process works in the school system. I am sure glad that I read this after I got hired as a teacher!

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Starting the 18th Grade

About a year ago, a friend (whom I won't mention by name in order to protect her identity) asked me if I was interested in accompanying her in going back to school to obtain my Master's degree. To be perfectly honest, I had never truly considered going back to school. This seemingly complacent attitude with my Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Florida State University (Go 'Noles!) isn't because I don't love learning, I do, after all I am a teacher (it's sort of what I do). Instead, I attribute the delay in getting my Master's due to the amount of high-quality professional development that I have received at the elementary school where I am so very grateful to work. Along with the amazing school-based, totally relevant professional development that I receive at my school, I am also a bit of a self-proclaimed workaholic. I didn't think I would have time to juggle all of my leadership duties at work, teach my heart out to my kids, and go back to school as a student.

I knew that this type of endeavor would require careful consideration as it would be a major financial investment and time commitment. As with many other big decisions in my life, I decided to phone a friend and one of the smartest people I know, my mom. The conversation went something like this:

Me [on cell phone in clothes department of Target): "Mom, I am thinking about going back to school to get my Master's Degree."
Mom: "Awesome, how much will it cost and how are you going to pay for it?"
Me [cringing]: "Upwards of $15K..."
Mom: "Over a lifetime that's not that much, I think you should do it. It will be worth it and you'll be done in no time."
Me [in my head]: Damn!

The twenty-something, I just want to enjoy life, part of me, wanted her to advise me not to do it. That would have been the easy way out because I've learned that mom's usually right. Although I knew what my goals were for the future (to teach pre-service teachers) and knew that going back to school was an important step, even if it would mean that I would have to give up my Monday nights and a few Saturdays a month. The next day I bit the bullet, knowing it was the right choice.

I enrolled in Jacksonville University's College of Education under the Instructional Leadership and Organizational Development program (say that 5 times fast). Remember that aforementioned anonymous friend? Yeah, she enrolled too. Thank goodness she did. Don't tell her, but I am sort of glad she bent, no almost broke, my arm last summer as she convinced me to go back to school. Thanks Melissa. :)