The relationship between the board and the Director of Education is central and critical to effective School Board governance. Here are some overarching tips to keep in mind with this:
- The board speaks with one voice through the Chair
- The Chair should be in regular contact with the Director between meetings
- The Chair and Director need to have an open and honest relationship: there are both employer-employee and sounding board elements to this
- Be willing to both share bad news and show appreciation when it is deserved
- Be clear on governance versus management roles
- Keep the Director up to date on the pulse of the board
The employment relationship with the Director of Education encompasses these steps, which we will explore in more depth:
- Succession and Recruiting
- Agreement and Mandate (Responsibilities: position/job description)
- Performance Management: objectives/targets
- Performance Evaluation and Compensation
Succession and Recruiting
We’re going to start with succession, which is a continual process that, done well, prepares you for recruitment.
You will want to include these three distinct levels in your Director succession plan:
|3 Levels of Succession|
1. Emergency Transition
2. Orderly Transition
3. Beyond the Next Transition
- Emergency Transition: who will you name as Interim Director if your current Director’s employment ends suddenly and unexpectedly, e.g. sudden illness or death, firing, quits without notice?
- Orderly Transition: what process will you follow, and what internal candidates might you consider, if your current Director provides ample notice of departure, e.g. retirement or contract not being renewed?
- Beyond the Next Transition: your School Board should be preparing high potential individuals years ahead of time, whether they end up being your Director, or move through leadership in other School Boards (which is normal and healthy). This process is often called talent management.
Since the Director is your (the board’s) employee, levels 1 and 2 above are your responsibilities. Since the other staff are the Director’s, level 3 (management succession and talent management) is the Director’s responsibility. But because it has implications for Director succession, you should have the Director report to you at least annually on her/his succession and talent management plan within the School Board.
Your Director of Education and head of Human Resources will do most of the work in this area, and the board reviews their plans, asks questions and reaches confidence that we have reasonable plans for all three levels of succession.
Some other tips to keep in mind:
- Put Succession planning on the Board’s agenda annually.
- It is a board responsibility to describe and be clear on the skill sets, expertise and character required for the next Director of Education.
- This begins by taking into consideration today’s (and future) company needs, but the preferred candidate of a couple of years ago may no longer be such, given a dramatically different environment.
- Involve your HR executive/ manager to provide the board with expertise in process and steps.
- Check that your Director and HR executive are implementing programs that help cultivate the leaders that you want.
- Groom successors from within the School Board.
- Have more than one possible successor available at any time – even if you have a leading candidate in mind, don’t communicate that too early, or it will de-motivate other senior leaders, even to the point of looking for a job elsewhere, and it may erode the ability of your current Director of Education (“lame duck”).