5 Strategies to develop a Transparent and Humanistic Human Resources Department Strategy 4

Posted By: Sandy Wiley Skinner

As we continue to discuss how to develop a transparent and humanistic Human Resources
Department, I want to lift up your work as an essential function of how the inner and outer
community sees your district. While we function as a school district for the sole purpose of
educating children, you will find more chatter about the people of the district. People talk more
about the teacher who is under investigation, the principal who made a poor decision, the coach
who has had a consistent losing streak, and the superintendents who called too many snow
days. Not meaning to undermine these points, because they are valid, but the true reason we
show up each day is for children. The education of our children leads to a better society/world
for us. The students we either treat well or unwell will soon be our leaders, thinkers, etc. the
world is at their feet and we are then at their liberty.

The people we hire, maintain, and support make everything happen for our children. Therefore,
do expect to be in the media at some point. This leads me to the fourth strategy, understanding
the relationship between HR and the media is a matter of public opinion.

Strategy #4: HR and the media: A matter of public opinion

Let’s being our discussion with the news media. The news media is what most of us rely upon
knowing what is happening in and out of our intimate world. We lean in to the TV to learn about
the errors of people, how others are living and what we need to do in guiding our decision
making. Most of us believe what we see on TV or read in our news feed. There are reliable
sources that most of us tune in to, such as CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, etc. Since there are
reliable sources, then one would deduce that there are unreliable sources. The unreliable
sources, typically, have not been vetted and is based solely upon opinion. We used to call them
tabloids… However, in today’s time, someone can list anything on a website, call it news and
there it is – a matter of public opinion.

When parents/guardians are deciding where their children will attend school, they typically look
at the community, news media headlines, and information about the staff. Of course, parents
want their children to attend a schools that produce high achievement, but the people in front of
those children matter just as much. This is where you come in, as the HR professional.

Children achieve at higher rates because of their teacher, the principal, and the people.
Curriculum, opportunities, etc. are all great, but only are truly enforced by the people. In today’s
society, we hear about adults hurting children at alarming rates. As a parent, I have learned
that not only the academics matter, but also the people with whom has leadership over my child
for most of the day. Parents are trusting us when they send their children to school. They are
determining that we will do better for their children each day, so their child can/will achieve their
highest potential. This comes from recruitment, retention, and hiring practices, of which must be
ethical, clear, and consistent. You are to hire the best, dedicated, and safe adults for the
children in your district. Ensure you are in compliance with checking references, searching
people on the appropriate websites, conducting background checks, etc. We must ensure we
have the safest people in front of our children.

When we do this, children achieve, are safe, and this becomes a matter of both public and
proven opinion. You will then find your district is in the media for showing academic success.
Parents will complement the district, want to become more involved, and share their opinions on
social media or those school rankings websites. Would we qualify those sites a reliable sources, probably not, BUT are they considered reliable to a family doing research on the
school districts, yes. Absolutely. The harder part is that some of these websites we not even
aware of. In this instance, the media is bringing great attention to the school district. The
students are excelling, so that means the staff is committed and dedicated to the students.

There is a flip side to this. If the staff that were hired by the HR department harms children, is
leading them to a failing season (again), hasn’t been communicative with the happenings in the
district, did not report out when matters happened in the school, then the media’s presence
about the district becomes not so positive. I have not met an HR representative who said they
like when they receive a call from the media about a complaint or concern. No one wants to see
their district plastered on the TV due to allegations or proven allegations of misconduct by an
adult. If a community sees the staff in your district as unsafe, then this creates tension and
questioning of the hiring and recruitment practices of the HR department. It is your
responsibility to communicate to staff annually policies, the law and practices that they should
abide by. We have to equip them with the knowledge needed to know how to treat children and
we have to ensure we hire staff who are passionate about education.

The media can be an ally and partner. Work with your communications department to highlight
your staff and the work of your district. You want to be transparent with new initiatives, training
opportunities and about behaviors that are acceptable. Take some time to consider all of your
practices. Make sure they align with highlighting the work of the district. Your staff will always
have suggestions, questions, and wonderings about HR. You will find HR comes up in a lot of
conversations throughout the district. Learn to be comfortable with that reality, as it will not go
away. However, consider how to steer this dynamic and make the talk work to the best interest
of the district.