Summer Elixir

The healing powers of summer are providing the annual elixir to teachers and school administrators everywhere. No matter how awful the internal politics of their workplaces last spring, August will usher a renewed sense of hope for the fall return to the classroom. Like a bad case of amnesia, the break will successfully numb these professionals from the unresolved violations of healthy organizational culture that exhausted them a few short months ago. 

Schools are great symbols for the cycles of growth occurring in all workplaces. Everyone has the biorhythms of the academic year imprinted in their souls rooted in the first two decades of their lives. Hope springs eternal in the fall as Mother Nature is wrapping up her fiscal year while the world downshifts into neutral in the end of spring and starts planning vacations. Cycles spiral either positively or negatively as we either invest in solving challenges or sanction the continuation of struggle.

The Gallup organization recently published their latest data about dissatisfaction in the workplace illuminating record numbers of disengaged employees wanting to change jobs. This also means the number of passionately engaged employees has shrunk. As one teacher confided last spring, “I will not acknowledge, accept, or embrace the changes that have happened on my team. I am unhappy and all of my energy is going to be spent broadcasting my displeasure until everyone knows how I feel because they now feel the same way.” Unfortunately, this same energy would otherwise be spent on building effective professional learning communities for kids.

Elixirs, by their nature, are panaceas. They cure all ills. They provide remedies for broken relationships and dysfunctional teams. They begin by anchoring an appreciation for difference as a norm. Next, they sponsor respectful conflict so that all voices are managed with dignity. With this as a foundation, they empower ambitious goals and hold everyone accountable for follow-through. Elixirs then promise a better world through exploration, innovation, experimentation, curiosity, and smart risk-taking. Of course, this creates change. Effective elixirs enable teams to manage this change with poise and resilience so that their members can embrace the new circumstances and possibilities that lie ahead.

So, use what remains of your summer wisely. Finish recharging your batteries so you can come into the fall energized and engaged. It’s almost time to evolve the workplace culture to the next level. Will you be ready?