Tags:EducationBehaviourTheoryResearchPrincipal

News
03/02/2020
4 min read

How long does it take to change your work habits?

Leading a school means leading change.  

That change might be your strategic plan, an initiative that sees people use new apps and tools, or even something as simple as a daily check-in with your team.  

But as anyone who has tried to affect change in a work environment will know, it takes time. In many cases, changes put forward in a plan can up-end habits that people have maintained for years, even decades.  

To truly understand managing change, particularly in a school, you need to understand habits – and how long it takes to adjust them. 

The average time to form a habit is...

66 days - just over two months.  

However, the research that gives us this number notes that the time taken to form a habit habits, the type of activity and how significant repetition of a task influences their automaticity (how quickly they pick something up without thinking).  

This also only applies to people who are willing to change. The research that gives us 66 days also notes that nearly half the participants in the study didn’t repeat their chosen activity enough to form a habit.  

And finally, the habits that research participants picked up were quite simple – drinking water, eating a specific item or doing some minor exercise in a morning period just after breakfast. Hardly organisational change at a school.  

All of which is to say that while 66 days is a good benchmark backed up by research, principals shouldn’t expect automatic habit changes after this period of time just because a paper said it would.  

So what can you do to help and maintain that change?  

Maintaining change in a school environment 

The University of Oregon’s Elliot Berkman has some good ideas on ensuring that an individual maintains change that apply nicely in an organisational context. To wit:  

  1. Have a replacement action or habit 

The example Berkman uses is nicotine gum, an active consumable, being more effective than the passive patches.  

In the workplace, it’s a little more simple. When your change is to stop people from doing one thing, ensure there is a practical alternative. Want everyone to stop using wall planners? Make sure you provide a clear spreadsheet, calendar or Trello board as a replacement!  

2. Bring the why 

Always, always bring the why. Berkman’s argument is that people will affect change more significantly if the change aligns with their personal values.  

That’s where all your hard work on a strategic plan comes in. With strong stakeholder communication and by involving your whole team in a long-term plan, you hopefully already have the buy-in on why you want things to change.  

If not, it’s time to consult, listen and understand.  

3. Visibility and motivation 

Berkman’s final piece of advice is that everyone has the capacity to change. Shining a light on the behaviour or action you want to change and providing clear motivation can go a long way, especially for people who have a deeply ingrained way of doing things.  

It might not happen in 66 days – but it will happen 

This may seem like a negative way to look at change in a school, using comparisons to addiction models. But at its core, implementing change through a strategic plan operates on the same principles. You are helping people move from one set of behaviours to another, and need to do so respectfully and with clear context.  

Perhaps most importantly - and this is backed up in the research – missing an opportunity to perform the changed behaviour or action doesn’t mess up the automaticity.

Basically – if you or anyone in your team makes a mistake, it will still become a habit. Power in persistence, everyone!

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Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme (SLPP)

A free 10-month development programme for New Zealand principals. The Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme (SLPP) brings New Zealand principals together with strategic experts to develop your leadership and support clear, insightful planning for our schools - free of charge. Strategic leadership is a pivotal element for improved school performance. The ability to plan, manage and report as the fulcrum of your community ensures healthy relationships and the right conditions for everyone to thrive.   But too often, school leaders lack the time, knowledge or resources to learn strategic planning and put it into action.   How does SLPP work?   1. Expression of interest  We can’t help you develop your leadership if we don’t know you’re there! All New Zealand principals are welcome to participate in the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme. You can get in touch with us here, and one of our Programme Managers will get back to you on availability for our next set of cohorts.   Our Programme Managers are some of the most experienced members of the Springboard Team and will be on hand to guide you through the SLPP journey, answering any and all questions you have. They’ll also be your main point of contact for post-SLPP programmes and services!   Please note that our journeys begin in Term One of each year, so getting in touch with us by the end of Term Two the year before is a good idea.   While we aim to give everyone an opportunity to take part in SLPP, our resourcing only allows for limited places, with schools in greatest need of our assistance given priority.   For volunteers interested in SLPP, please see our Volunteer Support page.   2. Finding your partner   In SLPP, you work extensively with a Capacity Partner – a volunteer from the business world who brings knowledge, trust and curiosity to the relationship.   Having run nearly 100 cohorts in the last decade, the Springboard Team is adept at finding people who work well together.   3. The workshops begin   Over 10 months, you and your Capacity Partner will meet as part of a ‘cohort’, with five to six other principal-capacity partner pairings and one volunteer facilitator (also from one of our major or strategic partners).   This peer-to-peer, cross-sector work means you get insight and understanding of strategic leadership that often isn’t possible on your own.   As a cohort, your progress through nine workshops, each focused on a core element of strategic planning.   4. Present and Celebrate  The final workshop is more of a celebration and reflection. You and the other principals in your cohort will present your strategic plans to everyone, before celebrating the progress you’ve made together alongside your partners and the Springboard Team.   While this ends the formal meetings of your group, many of our cohorts stick together long after the SLPP is complete – meeting quarterly, sharing advice on their strategic plans and continuously evolving their leadership skills.   Most principals who have completed SLPP will also want to continue their leadership development – for example, sharpening their annual planning skills or involving their leadership team in the same professional development. This is where our Alumni Services begin.   Why take on SLPP?   At Springboard, we believe we’re better together. By sharing tools, frameworks and expertise across sectors, principals and business leaders develop much greater understanding of each others’ roles and the common challenges and opportunities that they face as leaders.   This is reflected in New Zealand Council of Educational Research (NZCER) reporting we commissioned on the impacts of SLPP. Some 93 per cent of principals said this programme had a high or medium impact on their leadership.   In turn, this has a positive impact on leadership teams, teachers, and student opportunities.   What comes after SLPP?   The Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme is the first step on your development journey with Springboard Trust. Once you understand and apply strategic planning tools and frameworks yourself, it’s time to move on to areas like implementation, community engagement and distributing leadership across your teams.  Typically, we recommend the Kickstart Your Strategy workshop as an excellent follow-up to SLPP in Term One the following year. However, alumni principals (those who have completed SLPP) are able to pursue any of the programmes and services we offer.   To find our more about SLPP or join our next cohort, click here.  

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Talent Management Workshop

With a New Zealand teaching workforce of 70,000 and counting, principals have a huge variety of people on their teams. Yet it is becoming more challenging to recruit and retain the right people at the right time.    Schools that don’t pay close attention to how their people are feeling, developing and responding to change will likely face higher turnover, and more issues implementing their strategic plans.   Springboard Trust’s Talent Management Workshop gives school leaders an insight into a framework for good talent management, supports schools to develop a people strategy, and gives you the tools to ensure everyone in your school can bring their best.   How does the Talent Management Workshop work? Talent management isn’t a set-and-forget action – it's a constantly evolving process, and one that needs a holistic focus at all times. As with everything, it’s all about the people.   In our Talent Management Workshop, you work with a facilitator and one of the Springboard Programme Managers to develop your school’s own view of talent management, where your team fits in the cycle, what is a priority area for you to start and what you need to do to ensure a healthy, happy team in the future.   The workshop is broken down into five stages, each representing a part of the talent management cycle: onboarding, development, retention, planning and attraction.   We will help you align a talent strategy to your strategic plan, helping you work with the right people for your vision and values. That may include identifying  solutions to address your talent gaps, where your team’s strengths lie, and how the talent management process never stops – even when you’re not actively looking for new people.   It is a half-day workshop, and takes approximately four hours.   What do you get out of the Talent Management Workshop?   Understand the talent management cycle and all its different stages.   Have a framework and tools to get the best out of your people.   Be able to develop a talent management/people strategy for your school.   Apply the GROW coaching model to support your existing and potential people.   Who is the Talent Management Workshop for? The Talent Management workshop is open to all alumni principals (those who have completed the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme) and works best when the leadership team attend the workshop together  To find out more about our next Talent Management workshop, contact your Programme Manager or head on over to our contact page.  

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High Performing Leaders (HPL)

High Performing Leaders (HPL) is a service designed to support principals, senior and middle school leaders to understand their strengths and how these can be leveraged in existing or future roles.  How does High Performing Leaders work?  HPL is a process of reflection, introspection and then connection. The Springboard team – along with our volunteers – provide a principal, senior or middle leader with coaching and guidance to help them decipher their strengths, areas for development and where they should focus their efforts.  This is supported by a comprehensive 360 degree feedback process involving up to 15 people the leader works or engages with.   Fully confidential, HPL provides a safe and supportive environment for all the feedback you need to thrive.   You will work through HPL in five one-on-one sessions alongside an expert volunteer coach, who will support you to unpack the feedback, set a goal and work on a plan to achieve your goal.  What do principals get out of High Performing Leaders? Springboard Trust’s leadership framework is a tried and tested model for not just strong school leadership, but the flow-on impacts of that leadership to the rest of the school and wider community. It correlates with the Education Council’s Leadership Framework, as well as the Mental Health Foundation’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing model.   Through 360 feedback and coaching in HPL, principals will:  Foster trust, safety, creativity and exploratory thinking in themselves and their team.   Develop strengths-based leadership with clear, practical next steps.   Get unique insight into their own leadership style.   Create positive leadership practices that impact the whole school and community.   Understand and apply the GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Way Forward) coaching framework.   Finally, High Performing Leaders gives you the starting point for developing your own skills and bringing the rest of your leadership team on this journey with you.   Who can take on High Performing Leaders? The HPL programme is open to all Springboard Trust alumni principals (those who have completed the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme), their senior leaders and middle leaders.  This service runs over one school term and requires committed input from up to 15 key people, including coaches, leadership team members, direct reports and peers. To find out more about High Performing Leaders or to register your interest, contact your Programme Manager or head over to our contact page. 

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