Staff reflections from September, 2011:
The big news, for staff and the institution, is the “change in guard” of the principal. In the time period between this Central Council meeting and the last, we have said goodbye to Charlotte Caron who, in a trying time, offered steady and gracious leadership as Acting Principal, and we have said hello, with great excitement, to Maylanne Maybee, our new Principal. Transition continues to be an on-going theme for the staff team; we are embracing the newness with a sense of possibility and enthusiasm.
On August 30th the staff team gathered for a day of staff team development. With a brand new principal, and a couple of newer staff members, this day provided an opportunity for getting to know one another and clarifying assumptions about working relationships. The Human Resources Committee had arranged for an outside facilitator, Barb Gemmel, to guide us through the day. Unfortunately, Barb had a nasty fall the week before the event and was unable to be with us. The staff rallied round and divvyed up the tasks of designing and leading sections of the day. In the end, the time together proved to be creative, fun, informative, revealing and helpful. That we were able to share the responsibility in such a competent fashion demonstrated the maturity and gifts of the group. This report will highlight the insights from that day and also from a regular Wednesday morning staff worship that also focussed on the theme of teaming.
Opening worship set the prayerful, reflective tone for the staff development day as we considered the Body of Christ imagery from 1 Corinthians 12. The morning continued with extensive check in and sharing of hopes and concerns, values and principles, self-awareness and working styles. Some input on change theory and transition management was offered. A section of the afternoon was devoted to collecting images and visions for teaming together. In our process, certain words and ideas emerged: commitment, reflection, encouragement, support and trust. We took a run at drafting vision statements for our staff team. These statements have been gathered, and we agreed that at subsequent staff meetings we will re-visit and hone the many into one clear vision statement. We also spent time articulating the resources and roadblocks to reaching our vision. We felt that we have an enormous pool of talent, commitment and good will on the staff team and we are supported by a willing community of volunteers and great students but we are also faced with financial concerns and the danger of staff fatigue. By the end of the day, we quickly named some concrete dreams for our staff team for the coming year. These, too, will be pulled together and re-examined in the coming weeks.
The central theme of our faith is love, and consequently, love is connected to staff team relationships in this faith-based organization. Love your neighbour is clearly related to the person in the next office. The golden rule, do unto others, needs to guide our actions and behaviour. The directive might not just include doing unto others “as you would yourself”, but it might involve doing unto others “as they would have for themselves.” In Hebrews 10:24, one translation encourages “let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” This evocative use of the image of provocation suggests unsentimental and active ways of being in relationship. In all our interactions we must discern with compassion and understanding. This will enable us to be a model for others and other workplace cultures marked by competition and control. In whatever we do, we want to remember the radical faith principles of journeying together: encouraging those who are falling behind and “hearing into speech” those whose voices are not heard.
Because staff fatigue remains a concern, we desire to find ways to energize ourselves. Some literature suggests this concern is best addressed by developing a climate of servant leadership where encouragement and support are central characteristics of the work environment. Stepping up to the plate for one another and helping each other go a long way toward ensuring this goal. Reading the biblical story of Moses’ father-in-law insisting Moses get assistance reminded us to share the burden. Jesus’ words “Come unto me, all you who are heavy laden” also put the workload in appropriate perspective. It remains a privilege that we work in a place where calling on the spiritual resources of prayer and reflection are not just tolerated but encouraged and expected. Also, in addressing staff tiredness, it probably would do us good to have some fun and laugh together more frequently!