Focus groups provide valuable input

During the month of September, Dr. Anne Sullivan facilitated a series of staff focus groups to gather input in three key areas:

  • What specifically worked well, which things could be improved, and what ideas do you have for future formats related to the Aug. 10th All Agency Day.
  • In our efforts to do the “right less” with less, what do you think is the right less?
  • Tell us a little about your sense of the climate and culture internally?  What things should we continue to do so that staff feel valued and inspired?  What else could we do or how could we improve?

A variety of themes were generated from the input which are reflected below.

Themes around feedback from August 10 all-staff meeting

  • Regional meetings are better; Consider holding all-agency meetings every 3-5 years.
  • There was some confusion about whether holding the meeting at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center presented a great expense for the agency. To clarify, the agency did not have to pay for the use of the facility.
  • Lunch: There were mixed views about going out vs. staying in for lunch; some crowded conditions were mentioned.
  • Speakers: Mixed reviews, but mostly positive; suggestions were made for more “inspirational” speakers.
  • Staff recognition: Staff greatly appreciated this part of the day.
  • More information would be appreciated about changes going on this year-instead of team meetings.
  • Consider sending a letter out before the meeting with information about what group people are in, when groups meet, and who is the employee’s assigned supervisor?
  • Special school teachers included.
  • Some confusion around the purpose of the day.
  • The meeting was held during a very busy time for employees (some certified staff, IT, print shop). It was difficult to miss a whole day of work for some.

Themes around doing the “right less” with less (positives)

  • Hiring a School Administrative Manager (SAM) at Four Oaks.
  • Maintaining quality staff over space/buildings.
  • Learning Center move to Clear Lake Office.
  • We are looking at workload now vs. caseload (in the area of speech/language services)/new speech model.

Themes around doing the “right less” with less (areas for improvement)

  • Use technology even more efficiently. (Skype, Google Hangout, Adobe Connect)
  • Providing lunch at all-agency meeting.
  • Better alignment of agency goals and district goals-staying a step ahead.

Themes around culture and climate

  • Keeping people informed and feeling a part of the process; Be clear about the reason for change.
  • Speed of communication: The quicker the better so rumors don’t start.
  • Continue the “years of service” recognition program.
  • Not sure who I’m supposed to call for paper, mileage, etc. This used to be covered in a sector meeting in August.
  • Continue to strive toward improved communication with staff.
  • The agency’s openness about budget and sharing information about the budget with staff was good.
  • Please continue these focus groups and forums for input.
  • There is too much time spent away from schools/kids to attend meetings.
  • AEA 267 expectations for paperwork (EER, PD expectations, assignments) is challenging.
  • People concerned about not having a job with cuts in funding.

All of the themes were recently reviewed by the AEA 267 Administrative Team, the Wages & Working Conditions group, and the AEA 267 Board of Directors. Areas of improvement are being considered in future planning. Thank you to everyone who participated!

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