Once teachers are employed, they then have to be managed. At Modern English, we provide a structure under which teachers can work, but also give them freedom to implement their own ideas. This comes in the form of a curriculum and admin system that take a lot of the duller tasks – admin, lesson planning, progress tracking – out of the daily work, and allows teachers to be creative. I am a great believer in systems: systems that take the drudgery and guesswork out of often repeated tasks, but not systems that overrule what a creative employee would do.

We often use the analogy that the curriculum and our systems are the skeleton, or the framework, and it is the teacher’s job to implement these, then add colour to the black and white, or flesh to the bones.

My preference is not to micro-manage – in fact, I want to be as hands-off as possible, though this is both a gradual process and a two-way street as far as trust is concerned. The manager has to trust the employee and the employee has to feel trust in the system, the support and the freedom the school is giving them to carry out their work. One simple, oft-quoted example of the level of management used is the difference in instructions to solve the same problem:

  1. The manager gives detailed, step-by-step instructions to Employee A, watches him carry them out, checks completion and gives further instruction to ensure the job is done satisfactorily.
  2. The manager instructs Employee B to assess the situation and propose three solutions. The manager then chooses which action to take and gives any necessary instructions.
  3. The manager calls Employee C into his office and simply asks her to take care of the problem.

The manager knows Employee C can do the job, trusts them to do it and lets them get on with it. With Employee B, the manager is somewhat sure, but also uses this for appraisal and feedback. As for Employee A, the manager knows the employee needs detailed instructions, at least this time.

All employees should know what is expected of them, in terms of job performance and conduct in the workplace, and need to have access to people and systems that will allow them to fulfill these expectations. Company structure charts, job descriptions detailing tasks to be performed and to whom to report, operations manuals, regular meetings, feedback, training and appraisal sessions, not to mention sound employment contracts, are all essential parts of good employee recruitment, training and management.

There is a lot of advice on this site, and we’ve also had luck recruiting from there: https://jobsinjapan.com/

Next time: Job satisfaction.