Many international schools, and all-too-frequently, smaller independent schools within the USA struggle with retaining quality faculty and staff. However, having high retention rates is not the primary goal. As noted in an earlier blog, turnover can be advantageous to a school. What is far more important is the answer to the question, “Are we retaining the right people?” In his, The Best Idea Will Fail Without Proper Talent and Execution, Jack Phillips hits the nail on the head when he states, “Talent management is fundamentally about ensuring that the right people are positioned in the right places.” This is very similar to Jim Collins’ Good to Great concept of ensuring that the right people are on the bus and seated in the right seats on the bus.
Practice #1 – Stay Interviews
Annual Stay Interviews are a very effective and helpful strategy trusted school leaders use to help identify ways to keep the right people on the bus. Most people managers know exit interviews – and these help in determining the reasons why personnel move on. Stay Interviews, however, provide a means of regularly and intentionally engaging in conversations with faculty and staff members to (1) show that the leader cares about their personal concerns and motivations, and to (2) help leaders identify areas they may be able to improve on, toward a more positive school culture. With this method, trusted school leaders develop greater Situational Awareness. The more aware of the unique challenges and perspectives of their team members, the more they are trusted.
Practice #2 – Narrow the Front Door
Research also demonstrates that turnover levels are lower when school leaders do a better and more thorough job in the hiring process. Richard Finnegan says leaders need to be skilled in the ability to, “Narrow the front door to close the back door.” If school leaders take the time and effort to ensure their hiring process is deep and rich at the outset, then retention problems and concerns are minimized.
©2017 Toby A. Travis, Ed.D.
 Phillips and Edwards, Managing Talent Retention, 468-470, Kindle.
 Michael Shaub, “Trust and Suspicion: The Effects of Situational and Dispositional Factors on Auditors’ Trust of Clients,” Behavioral Research in Accounting 8, (1996): 151-174.
 Finnegan, Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Bad, 258-259, Kindle.