Boost Teacher Retention with Performance Management Design

Nicole Pratt| June 2024

I love performance management. This declaration often draws a confused look from whomever I’m talking to, but it’s true. At its heart, performance management, when done well, is all about coaching and development. I know that is not everyone’s, or even most people’s experience, but it can and should be. A strong performance management system can boost retention by providing regular opportunities to have feedback conversations with staff to provide positive and constructive feedback and let your top teachers know that they are high-performers and that you value them as a part of the team now and into the future. TNTP’s Instructional Culture Insight Survey  highlights that regular positive feedback and recognizing high-performing teachers significantly enhance retention. As reported in a recent Harvard Business Review article, “coaching culture is the practice that’s most highly correlated with business performance, employee engagement, and overall retention.”

Whether you have a current performance management system or not, summer is a great time to step back and reflect on what worked and what can be improved in feedback and development practices using the steps outlined below:

  1. Define Your Purpose
  2. Audit Your Existing Practices
  3. Plan for Inclusive Stakeholder Engagement

Define Your Purpose

I’m a firm believer in starting with why (thanks Simon Sinek!). Defining and aligning on the purpose helps us stay grounded in the goals and purpose when making decisions along the way. In performance management, there are various reasons why an organization might implement a system—from formalizing feedback and development conversations to rewarding top performers. The purposes aren’t right or wrong but should reflect the unique context of the organization and drive decision-making. For example, if the purpose of your performance management system is feedback, does providing ratings or scores support that goal?

Audit Your Existing Practices

Many schools and organizations have some type of performance management system in place at varying degrees of formality and fidelity of implementation. Once you define your purpose, you can then review your current systems to gauge where there is alignment to that purpose,  where there is conflict, and what is missing. This audit should include feedback from diverse stakeholders to ensure the system supports all teachers equitably by understanding a variety of perspectives. 

Plan for Inclusive Stakeholder Engagement

At EdFuel, we work to integrate an equity lens into all our work, and one of the key ways we do this is by encouraging organizations to include input and feedback from the people most impacted by the system or change. These stakeholder groups provide powerful insight in both design and ongoing monitoring of the impact of a performance management system. 

  • What voices need to be represented in conversations about designing a performance management system? 
  • What structures and routines do we have or can we create to support gathering input and feedback from these groups? 

This How-to-Guide is specific to redesigning a compensation system, but the framework could be helpful in thinking about how to engage a variety of stakeholders in any initiative with large organizational culture implications.

What Now? 

During the summer, most school and system leaders reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. How are you thinking about supporting the growth and development of your teachers and staff through performance management? Consider how an equitable performance management system can enhance retention and foster a more inclusive school culture. Let us know how we can support you in designing or refining a system that aligns with your organizational culture and vision.

Looking for support to design an equitable performance management system for your organization aligned to TIA requirements or your organizational culture and vision? Reach out and let’s talk!