Focus on Retention Not Dropout Re-engagement

I spent my day at a con­fer­ence on high school dropout re-engagement
at a local col­lege. It was really nice to have been asked to
par­tic­i­pate on the panel and the day was thought pro­vok­ing if not slightly frustrating.

In the US 7000 high school stu­dents dropout every day

Are you shocked? I have never brought this up here before because I
gen­er­ally blog about the HR side of my job not the work­force
devel­op­ment side. Get ready for a ride with me.…… Here’s my
hypoth­e­sis (same as pro­fes­sional 2 cents), I think the rea­sons
stu­dents drop out of school and employ­ees leave jobs are the same.

Employee dis­en­gage­ment &
stu­dent dis­en­gage­ment have the same root. Employ­ees leave man­agers
and stu­dents leave teach­ers. They are bored, feel dis­re­spected,
treated unfairly, unchal­lenged, patron­ized, lack rap­port and have
per­son­al­ity con­flicts.  Both quit when they have seem­ingly
insur­mount­able prob­lems with peers or when the envi­ron­men­tal drama
is overwhelming.

Peo­ple quit jobs when life gets in the way and they can’t fig­ure
out how to stop it from inter­fer­ing with atten­dance poli­cies,
com­pet­ing with  men­tal and emo­tional real estate, fam­ily
oblig­a­tions, etc. Stu­dents have the very same prob­lems. They
some­times have to assume the role of sib­ling or parental care­taker
and income earner. They have abu­sive fam­i­lies and sig­nif­i­cant
oth­ers and they become par­ents them­selves sometimes.

Employ­ees check out on the job and col­lect the check doing the
min­i­mum to get by until they stop show­ing up phys­i­cally too…
Oth­ers are per­for­mance man­aged out.  it’s the same form many
students.

So what’s the lesson?

We know that good
great com­pa­nies, the ones with the hot employer brand, the ones
peo­ple line up for at the career fairs and and try to net­work with on
social media to get an “in” and have a can­di­date advan­tage — have
great reten­tion, career paths and pres­tige. They have rep­u­ta­tions
as inno­v­a­tive, fair, flex­i­ble and trans­par­ent. They give their
employ­ees auton­omy and account­abil­ity, do employee sat­is­fac­tion
sur­veys and are pre­pared to hear the feed­back — and act on it. They
treat their employ­ees as inter­nal customers.

What if schools did that?

What if schools were more HR like? What if their orga­ni­za­tional
struc­ture more closely mir­rored (not that it does at all right now)
cor­po­rate train­ing depart­ments? What if high school kids were
treated a lit­tle more like adult learners?

Where are the work plans and clear expec­ta­tions, team work and goal
attain­ment as an indi­ca­tor of per­for­mance met­rics? If stu­dents
have per­sonal prob­lems can’t they have some­thing like per­sonal LOA
or FMLA that doesn’t cause them to be held back?

Does it make sense to have dis­ci­pli­nary action that hurts
stu­dents by out of school sus­pen­sion that puts them fur­ther behind?
Should school employ­ees be allowed to ver­bally abuse stu­dents,
belit­tle and berate them?

Moti­va­tion is unique to the indi­vid­ual. That’s another thing top
employ­ers under­stand. It’s not one size fits all.. shouldn’t
moti­va­tors be assessed, rec­og­nized and devel­oped in ele­men­tary
school? It might be help­ful to chart their learn­ing and moti­va­tional
style in their records. The next teacher that gets them wouldn’t have
to rein­vent the wheel.

Where is the S Sat Q12 sur­vey? What forum or vehi­cle so stu­dents
really have to pro­vide feed­back about their expe­ri­ence? Where’s the
360? Report cards are a one dimen­sional per­for­mance review.

We all hate super­vi­sors and sys­tems that oper­ate like that… They
never make employer of choice lists..

What’s your take?

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Focus on Retention Not Dropout Re-engagement

The more I think about it the more I am convinced that the management principles of education and employment should be strategically aligned. From the LMS to motivation, acknowledgment of learning styles to flexibility and accountability to disciplinary action, school is preparation for the rest of life which is in large part WORK so what’s the deal? Why is it so different and wouldn’t a more seamless approach to the transition be a heck of a lot better?
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