Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Teacher retention - does the answer lie with senior leadership teams and procedural and interactional justice

Given increasing concerns about teacher workload, recruitment crises and the retention of newly qualified teachers in this post I will be examining the role of procedural and interactional justice on staff and school well-being.  In other words, do fair procedures and communicating those procedures in a fair manner enhance both individual staff and school outcomes.  If so, what are the implications for the leadership and management of staff within schools.  To help do this I will be using evidence-based management and the work of Greenberg (2009) , which is included in Edwin Locke's Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behaviour: Indispensable Knowledge for Evidence-Based Management (Second Edition).

Background

Greenberg argues that individuals 'in the workplace expect to be treated fairly and respond negatively when this expectations appears to have been violated.' p255.  Given individuals concerns to be treated fairly it is not surprising that that this has led to an interest on organisational justice- and the individual perceptions of fairness within organisations.  Greenberg goes to argue that organizational justice can be seen as having three distinct types: distributive justice, procedural justice, and interactional justice.

Distributive justice

This relates to individual's perceptions of the relative fairness of the distribution of the outcomes (rewards) and inputs (workload or contribution) between themselves and others .  In other words, if the rewards and inputs within an organisation are perceived to be distributed unfairly this will lead to inequity distress.

Procedural justice

This relates to individual's perceptions of the perceived fairness of the of the manner in which outcomes (or inputs) are determined.  In order to address this - Leventhal came up with six rules of fair procedure:
  • Certainty - Procedures should be consistent across time and persons
  • Bias suppression - Procedures should not be affected by personal self-interest or blind allegiance to existing preconceptions
  • Accuracy - Procedures should be based on completely accurate and valid information
  • Correctability - Procedures should include opportunities to modify and reverse decisions (appeals and grievances)
  • Representativeness - Procedures should reflect the basic concerns, values, and outlooks of the individuals who are effected by them
  • Ethicality - Procedures should be in keeping with the moral and ethical values held by the individuals involved. (Greenberg p 256-257)
Initial research into procedural justice found two important findings
  • Perceptions of fairness of procedures used in and organisation predicted  key job outcomes (eg job satisfaction) independent of the effects of perceptions of distributive justice.  Distributive justice impacted upon perceptions of fairness of pay increases, whereas procedural justice was the predictor of peoples' feelings of personalcommitment and trust.
  • Procedural justice accounted for significantly more variation than distributive justice in people's assessments of fairness in organisations.  In other words, procedures matter more than outcomes.
Interactional justice

This relates to people's perceptions of not just the distribution of outcomes or the fairness of procedures, but also consider the way in which those outcomes and procedures are communicated.  Individual's expect to have things explained to them in a way which is both adequate and respectful.  If this has not occurred then they perceive that they have been unfairly treated.

Greenberg argues that interactional justice remains of interest today for two reasons:
  • Procedural justice has a major effect on who people respond to negative or undesirable outcomes
  • Managers are in a good positions to bring about the benefits of interactional justice by how they go about treating colleagues in the work place.
So what are the implications for school leaders and managers

Greenberg identifies two things that managers must do if they are going to demonstrate high levels of interactional justice (and hopefully increase teaching staff well-being ).
  • Treat people with dignity and respect, showing that you can about a direct report's personal feelings and welfare, where there is a lack of dignity and respect they feel as if there interpersonal justice has been violated.
  • Provide people with clear and thorough explanations about the processes used to determine outcomes - again when individuals feel they have been kept in in the dark about things they feel they should know about - again they feel unfairly treated.
In other words, if school leaders are serious about trying to reduce teacher turnover and withdrawal from the profession, the place to start is how they treat staff on a day to day basis - is it done with dignity, respect, benevolence and transparency or does the normal way of working with colleagues involve bad manners, disrespect, a lack of care and secrecy.

Reference

Greenberg, J. (2009). Promote Procedudural and Interactional Justice to Enhance Individual and Organisational Outcomes. In Locke, E.  Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behaviour: Indispensable Knowledge for Evidence-Based Management (Second Edition).  Chichester. John Wiley and Sons.

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