Look for Patterns

When I am working with a member of our administrative team to determine next steps for addressing the inappropriate behavior of an employee I often ask the administrator to determine if the behavior is a pattern or an isolated event.  Oftentimes, there is a temptation to want to severely punish a staff member for a single incident.  While there will be times when the employee's behavior is egregious enough to warrant an immediate consequence, most of the time the behavior should be addressed in a way that prevents the behavior from becoming a pattern. 


One of my favorite quotes on this topic comes from the book Crucial Conversations:"Learn to look for patterns. Don’t focus exclusively on a single event.  Watch for behavior over time... Don’t get pulled into any one instance or your concern will seem trivial.  Talk about the overall pattern.  And if excuses accumulate, don’t talk about the most recent excuse. Talk about the pattern."

I would estimate that at least 90% of any school staff has their heart in the right place when they make questionable decisions.  To build trust, I would encourage leaders to have a discussion with the staff member who made an error in judgement, but resist using some sort of formal action against the employee. Only when a pattern of behavior occurs should the leader utilize more formalized measures of redirection. 




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