Line management meetings are often the first thing to be cut in busy school environments but senior managers underestimate their importance at their peril. (376 words)
What are the top three day- to- day roles of a senior manager?
I won’t list mine here but it’s worth a think. I wonder how many of us have put line management meetings on the list?
Over time I have learnt that line management meetings are an essential and often overlooked part of being a manager of others. It’s also an area that we get no training in- despite their importance.
Poor line management meetings are very top down. ‘Do this.’ ‘Do That.’ ‘Have you done what I asked you to do since last meeting?’
The best line management meetings are an exchange of ideas and a sources of ongoing CPD.
I’ve experienced both kinds from the point of view of the manager and the member of staff.
Line management meetings are where the real relationships are made. Where you find out the vision of the person you are line managing (and vice versa) and help them to shape it and help their teams to achieve it. As a manager, it’s easy to cancel or move line management meetings because other things feel more pressing. In general, they aren’t, especially long term. We wouldn’t cancel a lesson to write a report or similar and line management meetings are as important. They aren’t an extra. They are an entitlement.
For those of us who line manage middle mangers, we need to remember it’s a difficult job but one where the key work of the school is done and how our strategic vision becomes reality via smaller teams. Middle leaders deserve space to think and play with ideas in a non judgmental way as well as somewhere they can discuss any issues (personal and professional) that they are bothering them. Line management can provide this as well as necessary constructive challenge.
Senior leaders need good line management too and I’d suggest anything less than once a fortnight on a regular basis is probably inadequate.
A chat in the corridor is good for day to day discussions but it should be an extra to a real sit down. Let’s make those we manage feel valued.