How coaching is helping this big district overhaul workplace culture

By: Matt Zalaznick | Originally published by District Administration

Custodians and maintenance workers at Dallas ISD had built up a reputation for poor service over the years. In fact, the entire facilities department consistently ranked near the bottom on the district’s annual climate and culture surveys. “We weren’t friendly and we weren’t timely filling out work orders,” says Assitant Superintendent David Bates, who now leads the department.

But the facilities department now ranks near the top, thanks to a commitment to establishing a more positive culture in the 22,000-employee district.

Three years ago, Bates volunteered his department to be the first to participate in the pilot of a new professional development initiative anchored by Dallas ISD’s “core four” principles: “focused, fast, flexible and friendly.” The work began with training and coaching department leaders in climate strategies that they then spread to employees at each school.

As a result of the culture shift, productivity has skyrocketed. In the past, it was taking facilities staff two months or more to respond to a work order. Now it generally takes less than 10 days, Bates says.

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