Talking point

9th October 2015 at 00:00
1-2-1s: mentoring or micromanagement?

Whether they take place in the bustle of the corridor or in the (relative) calm of the headteacher’s office, informal one-to-one meetings can play a big part in leadership.

These meetings may take the form of coaching sessions, direct instruction or even light mentoring. Supporters of such a personal approach to management say that it helps to unite staff, not only by challenging the stiff formality of the staffroom hierarchy but also by allowing for a shared understanding and approach to issues that arise daily.

But could frequent one-to-ones be regarded as undue micromanagement? And is there really a place for such meetings in the busy schedule of the school leadership team? We asked three senior leaders.

Deirdre Fitzpatrick, head, Uplands School, Swindon

Time spent one-to-one with a member of the senior leadership team is rarely wasted: staff are the most important asset in any school.

I take a personal interest in the growth of individual leaders through one-to-ones. We usually meet fortnightly, often to develop an aspect of leadership considered at SLT meetings. Outside of formal appraisal and supervision, I have an open-door policy. I like to adapt my style to whatever’s appropriate: coaching, mentoring or direct instruction.

However, I definitely do not micromanage; one-to-ones are used to empower the individual and support their growth.

Adam Cooper, deputy head, Abingdon Primary School, Middlesbrough

I find these meetings with the headteacher crucial for communication, organisation and understanding, on a strategic and operational level. They have also been crucial in my preparation for headship.

We have daily one-to-one meetings in the office or as we walk around the school: it’s a two-way process in which the headteacher can share ideas, issues and scenarios.

It’s also a chance to make sure we are united in our drive to raise attainment across the school. It wouldn’t be beneficial to have one-to-one meetings with such a large SLT; a weekly meeting suffices to ensure the school’s smooth running.

Sam Northwood, head, the Nelson Thomlinson School, Wigton, Cumbria

I hold weekly one-to-one meetings with my senior team and with other staff I line-manage. My deputies hold them fortnightly with those whom they line-manage. As well as discussing key tasks, performance, challenges and deadlines, we can “offload” and share concerns.

The style of one’s approach can get people’s backs up. But provided that one adopts a “coaching” approach and remains “human” throughout, staff seem to welcome the support. My team are very self-motivated and do not really need me to line-manage them, but they do use me as a sounding board.

Have something you want to debate?

Email jon.severs@tesglobal.com

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now