Friday, February 24, 2012

The Employee Handbook Process

The process the Handbook Design Team will use to continue to develop the Employee Handbook will include an Employee Forum and Focus Groups that will occur this spring. The purpose of this process is to involve all staff.

  • Employees will be involved in the process because we can’t be successful without your involvement.
  • Employees from every group will be represented because we need everyone.
  • The purpose of the Employee Handbook is to create clarity and consistency in what is expected of employees.

The purpose of the Employee Forum is to review what is working well, what the obstacles are, and what we can improve. It also allows for what’s going on with the organization’s internal and external environment. Forums are usually scheduled at different times during the morning, afternoon, and evening. Forum timetables will be posted in advance on the communication board so employees will know when to attend. Questions will be submitted in advance that will be answered at the forum.

The purpose of the Focus Groups is to allow every employee who would like to give input, the opportunity to do so. Focus group sign up will occur once the employee forums are completed. We have not determined how many focus groups we will have, but we will attempt to hold as many focus groups that will accommodate the number of employees who want to attend.

A post to a previous blog stated, “Do you eventually anticipate a more diverse leadership team comprised of administrators, board members, teachers, and support staff to formulate the new Employee Handbook?” I plan to listen to the voices and concerns of all of our employees. The final recommendation will come from the superintendent. It is the Board that approves the final Employee Handbook.

Again please remember the purpose of the Handbook is to create consistency and clarity for all employees. It is the desire of the Handbook Design Team to recruit, retain and recognize high performing, solid employees who embody the standards of integrity and accountability, to also commit to the continuous development, coaching and support of our employees and to continue to adhere to strict standards of achievement and excellence.


  1. I appreciate your continued communication efforts on this anxiety-filled shift from the contractual agreement mode of the past four decades to the radically new handbook world. I thank you for addressing my previous questions. I also appreciate the chance to participate in an employee forum and focus group or two. However, if I may, I’d like to offer a suggested modification to the recommendation process.

    Many employees liked school board candidate Jack Champeau’s vision of a “round table” discussion in this process. Granted, consensus building is more challenging than letting you and your administrative team make the final recommendation decisions—but this difficult front-end work makes for, not easy, but easier concluding decisions. I think this approach was called transformative leadership in my graduate courses.

    Imagine a diverse leadership committee of support staff, teachers, administrators, and board members sending a consensus recommendation to the full board. We have seen some ugly board meetings in the past couple years where our internal affairs (like employee relations) become external debates. I think a consensus process would eliminate some of the angst at the final board approval stage.

    I am not personally campaigning for a direct role in this, just a more egalitarian process for all employees. This is not to say that your proposed process is lacking democracy. Certainly, none of us—including me--knows what is best in these uncertain times. However, consensus building feels more transforming and empowering. Who knows? Maybe this complicated conversation will move the SDJ to a higher level or excellence, as you say.

  2. I agree with Steve, I am appreciative of your communication with all of the SDJ stakeholders. Thank you. It is not an easy time for anyone in education, and anything we can do to build bridges and promote understanding and cooperation is much appreciated!


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