Tapping technology for the successful integration of a new superintendent
Board members know that hiring a new superintendent is the most important task they will perform in their time on the board. Quite possibly the second most important task, once the new superintendent is hired, is helping them get off to a good start.
This is the third and final article in our series on the new superintendent search, transition and integration. In the first article, we demonstrated that a well-built technological footprint can help a district attract the best applicants. The second article detailed the transition phase and how to onboard the new leader.
This third and final installment will take you through the integration of the new superintendent as you help them get up to speed quickly and set them up for a successful tenure in the district.
Helping your superintendent to hit the ground running
Being new in a district can be overwhelming regardless of your position. Learning names, buildings, traditions and processes (and even where the 'sacred cows' are hidden) can be daunting to anyone, but as the new leader of a district it is especially important to get up to speed quickly.
Using technology to help with the processes, procedures and information frees up cognitive space to focus on mascots, staff names and when to head to the coffee shop.
Using technology for superintendent integration
There are many ways that technology can assist a new administrator as she gets up to speed. Here are a few:
Data and analytics
Clear priorities are the foundation of a strong entry plan. Utilize data analytics tools to provide the new superintendent with insights into student performance, district finances and other key metrics.
Dashboards, goal tracking and reports can help staff and board members make informed decisions. It is important to collect and evaluate as much quantitative and qualitative data as possible to confirm what issues to prioritize.
Examining critical documents such as strategic plans, executive reports, school board meeting minutes, facility plans, policies, procedures and operating budgets all help get a new superintendent off to a good start.
Then, delve into additional sources of district information such as achievement data, demographic data, and survey results; these reports can also be stored in a board portal for easy search and retrieval.
Document management systems to digitize and organize important documents, contracts, and records. This makes information readily accessible to the new superintendent and streamlines administrative tasks.
Use social media, email newsletters, and websites to engage with the community and keep them informed about the new leadership. Be sure to include a link to the board portal so that community members become used to looking there for information regarding the board and leadership team.
In the current environment, newly hired superintendents have a small window of time to set expectations, prioritize needs, form coalitions, and establish common goals, all while managing day-to-day operations. It is impossible to tackle every problem or please everyone, but superintendents can be strategic in how they partner with the community, manage difficult conversations, and build consensus.
A new superintendent is going to want plenty of eyes on information as she is still learning the ropes. Access to collaboration tools like built-in workflows encourage teamwork and idea sharing among district leaders. Managing the day-to-day operations of the district will be more efficient in a situation that capitalizes on robust cooperation and teamwork.
Security and privacy
Robust cybersecurity measures protect sensitive data and maintain privacy standards while also adhering to open record laws. The use of Diligent Community can help keep communications and information from falling into the hands of hackers that have mastered most free communication tools.
Keeping goal tracking and other data current helps maintain a good flow of information as the superintendent kicks off her tenure with the district.
This allows for ongoing feedback before the first evaluation. This type of communication avoids an all-or-nothing feeling for that new superintendent trying to do well in her first year.
A seamless start fosters satisfaction
A successful superintendent transition is not only a testament to the leadership qualities of the incoming superintendent, but also a reflection of how the school board has supported and organized the transition process.
When a superintendent experiences a seamless start in the district — characterized by clear communication, comprehensive onboarding, and a supportive board — they are more likely to be impressed by the commitment of the educational institution and the board's dedication to their success.
This investment in their success not only fosters a sense of belonging and commitment, but also contributes to their job satisfaction and overall engagement. As a result, the likelihood of retaining a highly skilled superintendent increases significantly, ensuring continuity in leadership and a stable, forward-looking trajectory for the school or district.
Technology for success
Succession planning needs to be an ongoing process in a district. Given the nature of the election cycle for board members, there is an ongoing need for historic records — records that can be searched and accessed easily. This applies to superintendents as well. A school district should be poised for dynamic planning and leadership.
Using technology to document and share institutional knowledge and to facilitate a smooth integration is a worthwhile investment of both time and resources as you prepare for a change in leadership.
It is important in the current politically charged environment to quickly build trust and transparency with community members for a new superintendent. Now is not too early to start.
Learn more about Diligent Community and how it can help support your school board as you go about transitioning your superintendent and setting them up for success.