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Grapes or Cucumbers? How Are You Engaging Your Staff?


Anyone can learn how to increase the engagement of their staff. Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a video of Oprah Winfrey delivering a Harvard Commencement Speech. During the speech, Oprah shared that she had given thousands of interviews. She shared in her address that whether or not the interviewee was a past president, a sitting president, a rock star, athlete, actor or actress, author or dignitary, they all had one thing in common. They all had the need for "affirmation." Oprah went on to add that even "Beyoncé, in all her Beyoncéness," when the interview was over and the camera shut off, leaned over and asked, "was it O.K? Did I do alright?"

Some of the recent research from the Gallup Organization on the level of engagement of our teachers has been disheartening. Approximately 70% of our teachers are disengaged, with 13% of staff members being actively disengaged. To move a culture from compliance to commitment, we need to have engaged staff members. We want all of our teachers showing up to work everyday on a crusade to educate and unleash the potential of all students. And all means ALL! However, disengaged staff members are more attentive to their own needs, then the needs of the children in the school.

Here's a great clip to start a conversation with your leadership team around increasing the levels of engagement with their staff.

The video was from a TED talk given by Frans de Waal. After watching the clip, ask your team leaders do the teachers in their schools feel that they are getting "grapes or cucumbers?"

When digging deeper into the Gallup results there is even more alarming information. Of the more than 70,000 U.S. employees surveyed in 2012 about working conditions that distinguish highly engaged workplaces from those in which employees are less engaged, teachers were the highest group that responded:

“At work, my opinions do not seem to count.”

Gallup also went on to discover that if teachers can answer yes to these three questions:

  • "In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work."
  • "At work my opinions seem to count."
  • "In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress."

they are 2.6 times likely to be more engaged, than those that did not answer yes to these questions.  

In other words, you can increase the level of engagement of your staff by giving grapes. Teachers want to:

1. Be affirmed for their hard work and efforts

2. Have a voice in helping create the world in which they work, and

3. Have feedback and coaching on their progress.

The challenge is, sometimes the people who are actually getting the grapes will think they are getting cucumbers, and that someone else is getting the grapes. That's where developing trust and strong relationships in the organization trumps strategy.

Another great use for the clip is to use during a staff meeting for teachers to discuss. The same clip can be applied to students in the classroom. What students are actively disengaged because they feel they are getting cucumbers?

 Follow on Twitter @DrBobbyMoore

 About the Author Bobby Moore has spent more than 25 years in education as a teacher, principal and superintendent. As President & CEO of EPIC Impact Education Group, he partners with schools and professional associations across the country to implement high-growth strategies, professional learning for leaders, strategies for creating high performing and positive cultures, as well as keynoting at conferences and school districts. Please contact him at Dr.BobbyMooreed@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @DrBobbyMoore.

This blog was authored by me as an employee of Battelle for Kids.
© 2017, Battelle for Kids. All Rights Reserved


Bobby Moore