Helping school heads overcome stress

By Kennedy Buhere

Some 52 per cent of school Principals in Kenya experience high levels of stress, an Education Psychologist at Masinde Muliro University of Technology, Dr Ken Otieno told heads gathered in Mombasa for their 2014 annual meeting.


Dr Otieno made these revelations while making a presentation on stress management during the just concluded Kenya Secondary School Heads Association conference in Mombasa.
The modern workplace and obligations present people with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.
Principals of schools are therefore not the only people who work under pressure that is beyond their knowledge, and ability. Classroom teachers, police, doctors, editors and technocrats in government offices face similar challenge.
The various policies the Government has designed have taken into account the reality that work is inherently stressful.
At the disposal of Principals are a deputy head, senior teachers responsible for departments or subject areas and teachers. We also have non-teaching staff who have been employed for administrative functions such as finance/accounting, catering and procurements.
An effective Board of Management creates subcommittees to deal with unique functional areas.
 On management of curriculum delivery the government recommends the creation of three levels of implementation: The principal of the school, the head of the department and the head of the subject.
 If all three ensured that there is functionality at the school, the department and at subject levels, the school will be effectively function and deliver excellent performance with least stress on the  principal, head of department and the subject head.
Some of the stress levels that the research may have revealed regarding school principals are self-inflicted. There is virtually little or no delegation of duties in some of the schools whose heads experience severe stress levels.
 Stress levels beyond acceptable levels come about when an individual is doing things alone without sharing the tasks. The Principal could have little confidence in the people he/she is supposed to work with and therefore never delegates. This is poor leadership, to say the least. A good leader should be able to mentor and coach his/her juniors so that they can take on some of the work he does. Modern management philosophy advises managers to develop people through work and not working through people.
 It is incumbent upon school heads to practice the principles of management to the letter. One of the basic principles of modern management is the need to deal with people with honesty and moral probity. They would guard against some of the stress associated with leadership by practicing effective public communication principles which require that you preach water and take water. There is great temptation to preach water and drink wine.
 Principals must set clear direction—through consensus and not administrative fiat—by charting a clear course that everyone understands, establishing high expectations and using data to track progress and performance.
 They should also develop people under them by providing teachers and others in the system with the necessary support and training to succeed.
 They should also delegate some of the duties and make other teachers share some of the privileges of working in your school. It is an irony of the workplace that while some are stressed by much work, others are stressed because of either too little work or the work they do is far below their abilities.
 The Principal can share duties and tasks and provide the direction and care his/her subordinates needs to perform to their best. But if the Principal is one who manages by stressing people, he/she will, as sure as the rising Sun tomorrow, will experience stress.
 In Exodus 18: 17-23,  Jethro advises Moses—after seeing him sit all day long to settle disputes without interruption—to delegate the job of settling disputes.
 “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and this entire people will also go to their place in peace.”
 Whatever industrial psychologists advise clients, Jethro’s wisdom is the best anti-dote to stress. You share duties, tasks, responsibilities and all that is associated with work.
 If the principals learn to trust and share tasks. If they delegate procurement of goods and services to a Committee, chaired by a member of the BOM, if they delegate the management of curriculum delivery to able and committed teacher, and was able to delegate all other issues, but ultimate responsibility for all these and others, lay with them. If he can account for all these to the members of the Board of Management who are enlightened people in their own, then the stress levels that the 52 per cent are said to suffer from will considerably reduce.
 A good manager is a man who isn’t worried about his own career but rather the careers of those who work for him, Max Burns former president of Shell USA observed.
Managing by developing people, instead of driving them to work for you is the best management advice that can keep unacceptable levels at bay.
Honest dealing (with themselves as individuals and not principals), honest dealing with the men and women fate has placed under them and  honest dealing with their God (which being they individually worship) will make them work without stress and they will not be part of the 52 per cent Dr Otieno talked about.
And they should not manage schools to glorify themselves. That makes for concentration of power and work in their hands. They should work to glorify God and let others within their school share the credit of high achievement.By Kennedy Buhere

Some 52 per cent of school Principals in Kenya experience high levels of stress, an Education Psychologist at Masinde Muliro University of Technology, Dr Ken Otieno told heads gathered in Mombasa for their 2014 annual meeting.
Dr Otieno made these revelations while making a presentation on stress management during the just concluded Kenya Secondary School Heads Association conference in Mombasa.
The modern workplace and obligations present people with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.
Principals of schools are therefore not the only people who work under pressure that is beyond their knowledge, and ability. Classroom teachers, police, doctors, editors and technocrats in government offices face similar challenge.
The various policies the Government has designed have taken into account the reality that work is inherently stressful.
At the disposal of Principals are a deputy head, senior teachers responsible for departments or subject areas and teachers. We also have non-teaching staff who have been employed for administrative functions such as finance/accounting, catering and procurements.
An effective Board of Management creates subcommittees to deal with unique functional areas.
 On management of curriculum delivery the government recommends the creation of three levels of implementation: The principal of the school, the head of the department and the head of the subject.
 If all three ensured that there is functionality at the school, the department and at subject levels, the school will be effectively function and deliver excellent performance with least stress on the  principal, head of department and the subject head.
Some of the stress levels that the research may have revealed regarding school principals are self-inflicted. There is virtually little or no delegation of duties in some of the schools whose heads experience severe stress levels.
 Stress levels beyond acceptable levels come about when an individual is doing things alone without sharing the tasks. The Principal could have little confidence in the people he/she is supposed to work with and therefore never delegates. This is poor leadership, to say the least. A good leader should be able to mentor and coach his/her juniors so that they can take on some of the work he does. Modern management philosophy advises managers to develop people through work and not working through people.
 It is incumbent upon school heads to practice the principles of management to the letter. One of the basic principles of modern management is the need to deal with people with honesty and moral probity. They would guard against some of the stress associated with leadership by practicing effective public communication principles which require that you preach water and take water. There is great temptation to preach water and drink wine.
 Principals must set clear direction—through consensus and not administrative fiat—by charting a clear course that everyone understands, establishing high expectations and using data to track progress and performance.
 They should also develop people under them by providing teachers and others in the system with the necessary support and training to succeed.
 They should also delegate some of the duties and make other teachers share some of the privileges of working in your school. It is an irony of the workplace that while some are stressed by much work, others are stressed because of either too little work or the work they do is far below their abilities.
 The Principal can share duties and tasks and provide the direction and care his/her subordinates needs to perform to their best. But if the Principal is one who manages by stressing people, he/she will, as sure as the rising Sun tomorrow, will experience stress.
 In Exodus 18: 17-23,  Jethro advises Moses—after seeing him sit all day long to settle disputes without interruption—to delegate the job of settling disputes.
 “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and this entire people will also go to their place in peace.”
 Whatever industrial psychologists advise clients, Jethro’s wisdom is the best anti-dote to stress. You share duties, tasks, responsibilities and all that is associated with work.
 If the principals learn to trust and share tasks. If they delegate procurement of goods and services to a Committee, chaired by a member of the BOM, if they delegate the management of curriculum delivery to able and committed teacher, and was able to delegate all other issues, but ultimate responsibility for all these and others, lay with them. If he can account for all these to the members of the Board of Management who are enlightened people in their own, then the stress levels that the 52 per cent are said to suffer from will considerably reduce.
 A good manager is a man who isn’t worried about his own career but rather the careers of those who work for him, Max Burns former president of Shell USA observed.
Managing by developing people, instead of driving them to work for you is the best management advice that can keep unacceptable levels at bay.
Honest dealing (with themselves as individuals and not principals), honest dealing with the men and women fate has placed under them and  honest dealing with their God (which being they individually worship) will make them work without stress and they will not be part of the 52 per cent Dr Otieno talked about.
And they should not manage schools to glorify themselves. That makes for concentration of power and work in their hands. They should work to glorify God and let others within their school share the credit of high achievement.

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