11 Ways To Address Your Own Frustrations
Have you ever walked away from an interaction frustrated because the results you were hoping to see never materialized? Have you ever walked away disappointed in an individual because you felt they did not follow through or did not complete a task or project in the way you had expected them to? If you are like me, it has happened to you more than once in your time as a teacher or school/district leader. If it continues to happen, then it might be time to address your own frustrations by examining your own practices. Looking back, there were times I realized I needed to manage my approach differently if I was ever going to achieve the results I was hoping to get. I recall one particular situation feeling so frustrated that I finally reached out to a mentor of mine who I greatly respect and asked him for some advice because I was at a loss of what to do. Although he is not an educator, he is a successful businessman who was able to offer me some advice on how to move forward. I will never forget the first words that he spoke to me that day – “Managing people to achieve the results we want requires of us a clear process for achieving those results.” His words struck a chord with me and I began to reflect on my own practices as a school principal. Below are the results of a process I framed and one I continue to tweak today.
- Determine the Outcome You Want: Often times we are not clear what it is we want to accomplish. Our own inability to articulate this vision often times sets us up for failure before we ever begin.
- Establish Clear Expectations: We must be clear in communicating exactly what it is we want. It is extremely difficult for students or teachers to demonstrate their level of competence when we are vague in our description. Remember, clarity precedes competence.
- Provide Examples: Describing and/or showing the product we hope to replicate or produce is necessary in order for others to understand the standard of excellence we aim to achieve.
- Give Opportunity for Questions: Be sure to provide ample time for questions and dialogue. By doing so, it provides the necessary time for people to process the information. This leads to a greater investment on their part.
- Review Expectations: After responding to questions, be sure to review your expectations one more time for both your benefit and theirs. This is a step that is often left out and leads to confusion and a lack of understanding of what is expected. Don’t assume because you communicated your expectations once that the information was processed accurately.
- Send Off with Confidence: Following the steps above will help reduce the level of anxiety often felt by others when given a new task to accomplish. Remember, it is our responsibility to instill a sense of confidence in others through our words and actions.
- Initiate Progress Checks: Create a schedule to follow up in order to see how things are developing. We know the calendar of a student, teacher and school leader can be extremely hectic at times, so initiate these important follow ups in order to stay focused and maintain the agreed upon timeline. By waiting until the end to check on things you are risking your chances for a successful outcome.
- Evaluate Level of Support: An additional benefit of checking in on a regular basis is it allows you to ensure that the individual is receiving the level of support needed to ensure a successful outcome. This is the step to re-evaluate and provide additional support if needed.
- Show Gratitude: Be grateful for the students and staff in your organization. One way to reduce your level of disappointment is to appreciate others and the value they bring to the organization, regardless of their role.
- Extend Honest Feedback: If and when a student or a staff member doesn’t reach the level of expectation you set, they deserve honest feedback that is delivered in a caring and compassionate manner, an opportunity to respond to your feedback, and finally, to experience the feeling of working in an environment that truly believes in coaching their people to not only expect their best, but to be their best.
I am often reminded of a phrase that my good friend Jeff Zoul (@Jeff_Zoul) shared with me once – “What is best for the best is best for the rest.”
As you continue on your journey as an educator, I encourage you to revisit your processes for achieving the results you aspire to achieve and implement them in a consistent and fair way with the goal of growing and developing your learners, recognizing the different levels of skills they bring to the table. Although I have shared a list of 10 items for you to consider, it was actually item #11 that made all of the difference for me personally. Even today, I continue to take advantage of these opportunities in my work as a leadership coach in trying to help others reflect on their own practices. Dare to take a guess at what the eleventh item is?
You guessed it.
11. Never underestimate the value of reaching out to a mentor or colleague to help you address your own frustrations.