I went shopping at 8 o’clock one evening in my local supermarket (one of the German chains) and was chatting to the man on the checkout who was moaning about his job and his employer.
He says he has to work very long hours (tonight he was going to finish at 1:00am) – longer than his contract says he should; he gets paid for the hours he works but only at standard hours. He doesn’t like some of the jobs, they are not really his responsibility but they have to be done. There is a union but they don’t seem to be very helpful. His bosses don’t always seem to consider the consequences of their actions – the manager was leaving as I was being served and commented that he’d left two bags of garbage on a till further along and they would need moving in a bit. The man serving was the only person on the tills and he said that between customers (there weren’t many at this time of the evening) he had to move the garbage and clean all of the tills then when the store closed he needed to work at changing stock and stacking shelves. As the manager left he turned and said, “I asked Matt if he could stay and help you but he gave an unequivocal no!”
It made me think. As a member of SLT do I do things that (presumably) seem reasonable to me but actually are very unhelpful? Do I say things that seem this insensitive? Do I expect people to do the work that is needed without necessary training, resources or support? It is possible, but I hope not but do I always stay and help? When we go back after our half term break I know that many of our teachers will have put in many of hours of extra work. They will get no extra pay – they do it because they want to (to catch up, to prepare, to ensure they have their classrooms looking amazing…), all for the children.
It seems to me that if you talk to people who work anywhere they all have something to moan about – hours, wages, conditions, colleagues, workload, funding – the list is as long as the people you talk to. Those same people are generally not racing to hand in their notice – again the reasons why they don’t are probably as long as the list of moans but they will all have a reason (for many the moans are minor and overall they enjoy their work).
As leaders let us try to make people’s lives easier, try not to be insensitive and not to ask more of the people we lead than is realistic, to be considerate and really think about the consequences of what we ask people to do. In schools, everybody is “doing it for the children” but piling on too much pressure so that our extra request is the straw that breaks the camel’s back will definitely not be good for the children.
This article was originally posted here.