Happy May! As the last six weeks of the school year come racing toward us, I notice stress increases and some of us aren’t as present when it comes to our interpersonal communication. "Just gotta get through the end of the year. Anything big can wait until August" becomes the mental frame. We lose precious time thinking these end of the year conversations don’t matter. What can we do to use our celebrations and goodbyes as important times to witness, connect and appreciate? Here are a few thoughts to keep us positive and purposeful during these interactions.
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
May List of To Dos
Many folks are finishing up contracts come June. Their job obligations are done. They will be moving on. Different opportunities await. I am always amazed at the variety of ways people end experiences. Some decide to let it all spill out at the end – "I never liked it here anyway...". Some decide to end with no mention of the end. "Just want a quiet goodbye. No frills. No acknowledgement." And yet, I have also seen beautiful emails where those leaving share their thanks and appreciation and one secretary actually threw her own goodbye party by doing an ice cream sundae event at lunch so she could express her gratitude in person. I always admire those who stay present at endings – who keep interactions gracious and generous. With so many emotions swirling around during a time of departure, we remember those who are elegant with their closing gestures.
Share Your Thanks
There are many of us who do not like big flourishes at the end of the school year. We will see each other in a few months, right? We need to remind ourselves to use this month not as just a time to chat about summer plans, but to share with others thanks for what we have received from them this past year. Do it face to face. Personally thank people with whom you have worked closely over the past ten months and tell them how they supported you in your work. Tell them what they did that was of impact and importance. If their comments in meetings helped you focus more, share that. If their hellos in the hallway all year made you feel you belonged, thank them for their greetings. If their jokes at the end of a hard week brightened your spirit, thank them. Be specific. Be direct. Be clear as to how they helped you and made a difference in your life. These last comments to someone will be remembered with such sweetness as a moment in the present as we all dash toward summer break.
Show Up for the Celebration
There is so much going on at the end of the year. Too many things to juggle and finish up and in our rush to finish, we sometimes skimp on the celebrations. We end up not being there for the good things. As I try to do each May, I will attend the retirement celebration at a school district in which I work. I sit amongst the flowers in the garden and drink punch and appreciate those who gave their careers and time in service to students and colleagues. The event is a reminder to me of how we all make choices in how we spend our days, how we spend our careers, and thus our lives. We need to honor transitions and celebrate and acknowledge amazing contributions made by others. I urge you to buy some daffodils and share your thanks with others face to face this month. It’ll be much appreciated.
As I begin thinking about ideas in the realm of organizational development and political savvy for possible upcoming publications, I have been doing some research. Check out these great resources.
Bay Area Society for Organizational Learning http://www.solonline.org/public_pages/comm_BayAreaSoL/ Offering workshops and forums in San Francisco, the Bay Area SoL Community (BASoL) is made up of a diverse group of practitioners, consultants and researchers dedicated to improving our knowledge and effectiveness in practicing organizational and societal learning.
Art Kleiner’s The Age of Heretics: A History of the Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management As Kleiner writes in his newsletter, “The most valuable management principles and practices often started as countercultural, including high-performance management, group dynamics, team leadership, quality, and diversity.” The book is heady and historical, but gets at “the nature of corporations and the role of the heretics, the people who raise difficult questions on behalf of the organizations they work for.
Each month I will share with you information about a few of my upcoming trainings.
If I am going to be in your area, contact me so we can say hello, hopefully in person!
Having Hard Conversations
Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies Cohort
Equity=Excellence Training Team Retreat
Equity=Excellence Trainers Planning Day
Palo Alto Unified School District
Palo Alto, CA
SFUSD BTSA End of The Year Planning Day
San Francisco Unified School District
San Francisco, CA
For additional upcoming events, please visit my Web site.
Until next time,
Feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and colleague. You may reprint this newsletter in whole or quote with attribution to Jennifer Abrams and a link to www.jenniferabrams.com