Jimmy Henderson, CEO, EdFuel
Nithya Rajan, Vice President of Strategic Planning, Green Dot Public Schools
As a charter school operator with schools in three states and an eye towards continued growth, Green Dot Public Schools operates in an incredibly complicated environment. Strategic planning is a core skill set for the organization – so much so that the central office has a Strategic Planning Team (SPT) of six staff dedicated to strategic planning, execution, and process design across the network.
This summer the SPT wanted to focus the professional development of their team members on how to provide better strategic guidance and support to the organization. Building off of the EdFuel competency maps, we created Green Dot’s Strategic Planning competency map (email us here if you’d like to see their example or build your own), used it as a self-assessment tool for each team member, and began the process of designing a customized professional development plan for every team member based on his or her biggest areas for development.
Here are three things the team learned along the way:
Talking it out helps… a lot. The team used several hours of their annual retreat to review the competency map, discuss individual areas for growth together, and align on individual and team priorities. It was helpful to “connect the dots” across the group and agree on a shared meaning of several competencies. The group conversation both clarified questions and generated a higher degree of excitement and buy-in.
“Resetting” baseline expectations in an open and honest way was key to a fruitful conversation around competencies and priorities
Start with development as the focus, not evaluation. The competency map is comprehensive and very detailed – and a tad intimidating. The team set a clear norm that the exercise was strictly about development this year, totally separate from the performance evaluation process. That allowed team members to engage more authentically with a personal growth lens and worry much less about a negative consequence for not demonstrating mastery in such a wide breadth of skills. And it squarely focused each team member on their own skill development –the most important goal.
Side-by-side comparison between the EdFuel competency map’s development focus and the home office evaluation rubric
Circle back regularly – individually and as a team. As a team, we set up a monthly check in about each team member’s PD plan in addition to their standing 1:1 meetings. We also take care to compare the self-assessments and PD plans across the group in order to develop a team PD plan for the year – this supports each team member’s growth goals while addressing collective areas for development.
Illustration of regular self and peer evaluation touch points, facilitated by EdFuel’s myBlueprint tool
Taking a team approach to skill and competency development went a long way in building buy-in and focus in a way that is non-evaluative yet still incredibly relevant to on-the-job skills. EdFuel’s free resource, the Blueprint for Success, maps competencies at all levels for talent in organizations large and small, from charter schools and foundations to advocacy groups and non-profits. To learn more about adapting this resource to build your organization’s talent and strategic systems, send a note here.