Archive for the ‘internal communication’ category

One Question to Ask Yourself in Managing Projects and Staff


32475169113_0cb788084e_o.jpgWhen I left the education sector for what turned out to be a well-paid, 6-year sabbatical (I was a general manager and senior vice-president of the public relations division of a Washington, D.C., marketing communication and advertising firm), I was lucky to participate in professional development activities that clearly trumped any offerings I had during my days as a teacher, central office administrator, and education association staff member.

Just like most adults who look back on their favorite teachers or profs who helped shaped their personal and professional attributes, I remember the words of one management consultant, Ken Schatz, who clearly focused on a set of principles that have driven my brand of leadership for more than 30 years.

As some of our younger NSPRA members who are now finding their way into managing a staff and interacting with other managers as colleagues may be learning, going to work each morning is different than it had been in the past. So in this blog, let me offer you one of Ken Schatz’s principles that has worked well for me over the years.


What Did I Do (Or Not Do) to Make This Happen (Or Not Happen)?

In his session with us, Ken reminded us to ask ourselves this question when we evaluate how effective a manager or supervisor we were in a situation:

What did I do (or not do) to make this happen (or not happen)?

When a staff member does not accomplish an assigned task in an appropriate fashion, you need to first look at yourself.

Then ask:

  • Did I give clear directions, set reasonable expectations, and agree on deadlines?
  • Did I check in during the project in a helpful or “coachable” way and encourage questions related to the project? This approach normally calls for taking a gentle approach rather than becoming a micromanagement freak hovering over your colleague every 3 hours or so.
  • Did I fully understand the capabilities of my colleague before I made this assignment?


When things go well, remember that it is important to give credit to your immediate staff and department members for the work they’ve done. When things go wrong, you need to own the problem and begin finding the answers to what you did (or did not do) to make this happen (or not happen).

And yes, I still occasionally ask myself that question today after more than 39 years of managing staff in the private and public sectors. Learning never ends!


Rich Bagin, APR

NSPRA Executive Director


Photo by Jim Cummings, APR, Glendale Elementary School District


Internal Communication Is Critical for Success


tagline iconCreate a Culture of Communication in Your Districts

Recently, I spoke before a group of superintendents when I received an Outstanding Friend of Public Education Award from the Horace Mann League. I most appreciate that honor and I also used my acceptance to speech to share some messages with these leading superintendents who rally around public education.

One topic I covered was internal communication — one of the weaker components in schools that we often find when we conduct communication audits around the U.S. and Canada. What follows is an excerpt from that speech on internal communication:

As we complete communication audits for school districts across the country, we see that by far the weakest component is internal communication.

Ideally, we want all staff to become ambassadors for their schools, to vote in finance elections where it applies, and to become advocates for their schools, their children, and their communities.

Unfortunately, this rarely happens.

Lots of lip service is given to having internal communication, but it often breaks down quickly as pockets of staff have little knowledge or a feeling that they know what is really going on.

They report little authentic engagement — even when their input is sought on topics of mutual interest. Most school districts have a problem in closing the communication loop when it comes to internal communication.

Superintendents can make a big difference in setting the parameters for the importance of communication at every level. Our experience tells us that communication accountability is rarely measured and that may be the clue to solve this disparity.

We need to hold principals, central office administrators, service personnel supervisors, and others accountable with a communication component in their evaluations. (What gets measured gets done.)

Some do a great job communicating internally, while others ignore it. I can’t tell you how many times we have heard from a staff member, “Well, I find out what’s happening around here by calling my colleague in another building because their principal tells her staff what is going on and why decisions are made.”

In many cases, staff actually want to know what’s going on and can’t get an answer without fishing for it.

It does not have to be that way.

As superintendents, you can begin by modelling an approach to start the process to make internal communication a priority. You can begin by planting the seeds for a culture of communication in your district.

All staff are part of your communication effort and, by making a commitment to communication awareness and with a bit of training, you can make it happen.

To make my point about the power of internal communication, one staff member recently reported from an audit of a school district with 25,000 students:

“When the district’s tagline is not believed by the frontline, this district is headed for big trouble.”

Repeat: “When the district’s tagline is not believed by the frontline, this district is headed for big trouble.”


Let’s make internal communication a priority in our school districts.



Rich Bagin, APR

NSPRA Executive Director