I hope your year is beginning well. January is a great month for heads of school to begin to relax and finish up their performance evaluations. It is also an important time to reflect on the year’s victories and defeats. I suggest, if you do not already keep an annual year’s scorecard, you should start one. Log what went well and why - as well as what didn’t go so well and why.
I recommend that you all ask your board chair to create a Head’s Support and Evaluation Committee. This was one of the best decisions I made in my nineteen–year career leading independent schools.
Here is how it works:
The board chair creates a small committee of about five board members. The chair of the HSEC (Head’s Support and Evaluation Committee) should be a member of the board executive committee, but not the chair. You should already have a strong relationship and support from the chair. The HSEC meets in late August with you to approve your goals for the upcoming school year. Quarterly meetings are scheduled for the HSEC and you to meet. These quarterly meetings have an open agenda, but will always start with a report from you on how you are progressing with your annual goals and action plans. If a particular goal is not going well, these meetings are a great time to be transparent and reduce surprises. The support part of the process is strengthened by the open and honest relationship you build with this special group of leaders. The HSEC is the one place where you can honestly seek advice and support on operational issues you are dealing with, issues like serious parental or faculty- staff challenges.
The evaluation side of the equation is dealt with as follows:
The HSEC sends out a Head of School Evaluation Questionnaire to all board members in late April or early May. The results of the questionnaires are recorded by the HSEC chair and shared and discussed in later May with the full committee. The HSEC then meets in early June to share the results of the evaluation with you. The HSEC will expect that you will respond to salient recommendations from the evaluation in your next year’s goals. The evaluation is wrapped up at a full board meeting in late August or early September.
Trust me. The Head’s Support and Evaluation Committee is a game changer and a great tool for you to lead successfully.