The superintendent search from a PR perspective (part 3)

If you want people to participate in an activity that requires some serious thought, set the stage by getting folks thinking about the goal early.

If the goal is to hire a superintendent who is a good fit for the district and the community, it’s smart to start people thinking about what qualities are essential for that person to have demonstrated in other settings.

Such preparation is good management, and its good public relations.

2. Set the stage for stakeholder input

One way to set the stage is by surveying all the in-school stakeholders (other than students) and all the non-employee parents/guardians. Technology makes it relatively easy to conduct the surveys digitally, with people responding by smartphone, tablet, or compute

If a school district doesn’t have an instrument available, it might use a list of qualities often associated with executive job holders as the basis for two-question survey.

The first question would ask stakeholders to (1) pick from a list the five qualities they think are most important to be sure a candidate for superintendent has and (2) to rank those qualities in order of importance from 1 to 5.

The second question would ask respondents to select the stakeholder group to which they belong.

Stakeholders should be encouraged to share their ideas with others in their interest group after they’ve submitted their personal responses. The wider the discussion, the greater the likelihood that individuals from the stakeholder group who are chosen to participate in the interview process will represent the group rather than just their individual interests.

Value of a written survey

The survey would accomplish several things. It would:

  • give each member of the non-student school groups an opportunity to participate in the selection process.
  • help individual stakeholders evaluate whether they could, if asked, represent the thinking of their entire group.
  • give the school board a rough idea of the issues each stakeholder group would probably wish to discuss with each candidate.
  • give members of the various stakeholder groups some specific topics around which they may wish to focus questions for the candidates.
  • give all the stakeholders a rough idea of the kinds of topics that are suitable to ask questions about at an interview.
  • begin to create a public impression that the hiring process is fair, open, and transparent.

When the school board thanks the stakeholders for completing the survey, it would be appropriate to tell the groups how people to participate in the actual interviews will be chosen.

Tomorrow : Part 4

All the posts in this series:

  • Part 1: Introduction
  • Part 2: Identify stakeholders
  • Part 3: Set stage for stakeholder participation
  • Part 4:  Prepare the invitation to apply and  give potential interviewers resources
  • Part 5:  Keep good interview records
  • Part 6:  Check references following interviews
  • Part 7:  Explain your choice & archive paperwork