When attempting to implement change, principals can face a variety of challenges. Perhaps first and foremost is maintaining a healthy environment when some of the teletherapy clinicians or teachers are resistant or difficult.
Critical to moving a school forward is the principal’s attention and positive control over the school culture and climate. Having a teacher or teletherapy therapist who resists change, either openly or covertly can be a recipe for disaster as the resistance and hostile attitude can inject just enough negativity to derail the best-laid plans.
A Teletherapist or Teacher out to Undermine Reform
A staff member out to ruin your changes will begin weakening your leadership by exaggerating or fabricating your faults or spread fake news about the proposed improvements. Teachers or teletherapy clinicians who either don’t know you so well, lack clarity regarding those reforms or are of character are often easy prey to these machinations.
What may start with just a few malcontents can quickly snowball into a secret group spearheading resistance against you and your innovative improvements. If you aren’t careful to nip this in the bud, you may find yourself rather quickly with a situation that has spun out of control. Act swiftly and decisively to snuff out the rebellion.
Confronting the Source of the Problem
First of all, don’t be fooled by the underminer when he/she denies your indictment and claims to be innocent. Very often he/she will agree with your reforms when confronted, but in reality, he/she is working to derail your objectives in private. It won’t be until he/she feels the groundswell of support beneath his/her feet that he/she will be bold enough to admit his/her opposition.
That underminer may be working slowly and methodically behind your back, exercising patience and caution. Complaints to school board members, parents or encouraging others to complain may all be part of a carefully designed strategy. While methods may vary, what you need is practical, practical advice to counteract these insidious efforts.
An Effective Plan of Respectful Confrontation
When you identify the staff member who is the source of the rebellion, meet privately to discuss what the issues are openly and candidly.
Be sure to craft a script in advance that will keep you on track as you will need to push forward despite the emotions that will undoubtedly surface.
If you are up against a group, you will need to decide whether to meet with the entire group of with the leader alone. Either way has its advantages and disadvantages.
As you listen to the complaints, don’t justify or defend your reforms but be reflective in your listening to ensure that you completely understand the complaints. Empathy is critical.
During the meeting commit to follow up and be sure to follow through on that!
Reforming Your Leadership
Take a cold hard look at your leadership style to rule out that you aren’t either causing or exacerbating the problem. Be particularly sensitive to how the staff may perceive you as either autocratic or controlling. You may need to rehaul your style.
Endeavor to create open communication channels with everyone. Be sure that the entire staff feels comfortable to seek you out about anything, no matter how trivial.
Go out of your way to be receptive when staff members share their concerns with you. Be an active and reflective listener to encourage them to share.
Send out trial balloons to before you decide to implement changes to solicit feedback and give your staff the opportunity to collaborate with you. Make them part of the process.