Written By: - Date published: 12:05 pm, February 14th, 2014 - 79 comments
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“Rewarding excellent Teachers”, on the face of it looks like a good idea. Who doesn’t think those who achieve results at a higher level, take on more responsibility or go the “extra mile” should not be paid more.
Unfortunately, performance pay, and rewarding the “top” does not even work effectively in business.
When we think about it a little more, the concept, as embodied in Nationals education policy is not as simple or as useful as it may seem. it is simply performance pay and “running schools like a business” in disguise.
Individual performance pay has been abandoned in top performing business, because it doesn’t work in anything more complex than a direct sales role.
Solid Energy is a recent local example of the “success” of individual performance pay.
National is continuing the idea that success, in education, business, or Government, is dependant on a very few “high performing” individuals. An idea which authoritarians are happy to have persist.
The idea that things work because of a very few “talents”, “wealth creators” or exceptional individuals justifies both the obscenely high salaries for “exceptional” managers and authoritarian styles of leadership.
The idea that society depends on a few individual supermen, suits those who want to justify excessive wealth/pay. It gives those responsible a moral justification for million dollar executive salaries, and authoritarians for abrogating co-operative work and/or democracy.
If you watch the movies, in military units, merchant ships and on civil aircraft, the “boss” is shown as this gung ho authoritarian, barking orders.
In reality, at least in the top/elite end, this is far from true.
A ships Captain who needed to reinforce his ego in this way would be regarded with contempt. In the military they are likely to get a bullet in the back, before they get everyone killed. Plane crash investigations show how many “pilot error” crashes are due to overly authoritarian and overly confident pilots, who don’t listen to their co-pilot, or ground staff..
High performing units where failure means immediate life or death, work as highly trained professional teams where the leader trains, co-ordinates and facilitates, not controls.
Managing, committed, qualified and competent professionals is often likened to “herding cats”.
It is noticeably easier to manage a bunch of people who prefer to “park” their brains at the door and leave the difficult task of thinking to others. Authoritarian followers.
However, if you want to have the best people, doing their best, to ensure a really high performing business you have to learn to, “herd cats”. Which means you have to give up some of your own power to facilitate and empower the “cats” to do their best.
You ensure that your staff are trained to the level of professionalism where orders, micro-management and authority are unnecessary.
Mediocre Authoritarians, obviously, would rather accept mediocrity than lose power or have to extend themselves to lead caring, thinking and competent people.
Hence the pressing need National have to corporatise, manage and dumb down “mass” education.
Anyone who has spent any time on a Marae knows that the power really lies with the “Aunties”, who keep everyone working together, not with the bloke with the big walking stick.
In business, the old guy in the workshop or the person typing in the back office, usually a middle aged woman, is the one who really runs the place.
Not the bright young man who has to be paid a million dollars to come to work. The new broom, who fixes what ain’t broke, cost cuts, asset strips, takes his share options, and leaves.
Just what schools, and the country, need. More of this approach.
Since tomorrows schools we have had a business model of authoritarian leadership. The “great man” idea.
We have seen how well this works, in reality. Schools broken because too much power and control rests on the principal.
Nationals education policy extends this idea.
BUT. In reality, there has never been a “great Captain”, without a “great crew”.