Middle Managers/Educational Leaders Training: Challenging Professional Development Conversations

Education & Training

Middle Managers/Educational Leaders Training: Challenging Professional Development Conversations

Education & Training


An Independent Co-Educational school in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne, established in the late 1800’s has two campuses, with approximately 1700 students, Early Learning Centres (ELC) to Year 12 & 300+ staff within 3 main campuses. Staff comprise 140 teaching staff, 90 professional staff & visiting staff for music & sport.


In Education, teachers identified as “great teachers/practitioners” are often promoted into Department Head roles. Middle Managers/Leaders. Often this promotion comes with no further training. The role originally was to provide educational leadership to a team of colleagues via curriculum framework & assessment processes.

It has become apparent that many great teachers have little experience in managing a team. It is noticeable that these leaders often have no defined method of providing positive & formative feedback to their staff or how to address concerns that may arise. With the current emphasis on wellbeing – this has become increasingly important ‘hot topic’.

At the same time managing poor performance, if done incorrectly, can result in workplace claims which can be costly & time consuming. The focus needs to shift to people management rather than organisational or resource management. Staff wellbeing, staff training, & development are not being addressed. Increasing workplace issues are arising due to poor management.


Synergy Global(SG) Consultant worked with the school to develop a series of workshops focusing on professional conversations that are productive, planned & accountable. The example conversations are structured with ‘coaching’ dialogue in that the manager’s role is to assist a person to clarify their goals & the actions to achieve them.
The goal being to develop a culture of solutions-focussed honest & open conversations within an organisation or team.

Example of two specific workshops for ‘Middle Managers’ (for Teachers, but they are appliable for all industries).

• Constructive Professional Conversations (sometimes on challenging topics like behaviours):
A professional conversation that enables personal & professional growth. Providing clear, positive & formative feedback.

• Escalating Issues/’Managing Upwards’ (understanding with clarity your own role & responsibilities)
It’s not our job to solve everyone’s problems; most people have the answers within them. Sometimes you need ‘clout’!


The workshops were well attended & well received. People welcomed the opportunity to plan & structure conversations & understood the need to do so.

The focus was more on Performance Management & ‘difficult’ conversations (or rather “Development Management” as it is now often & more appropriately called), but the point was made that proactive work in providing positive & formative feedback & addressing concerns regarding performance/conduct very early would potentially reduce the need for more serious management conversations or ‘HR processes’ later. Role playing & role modelling conversations was found to be very useful & a result of the running the sessions lead to more work in this area, along with training in ‘coaching’ skills.

Thanks – really found these workshops to be so helpful – addressing real work issues (without names) & practicing positive ‘state management’, along with ‘seeking to understand before being understood’…withholding judgement whilst using Socratic coaching questions & active listening skills. We all need practice with this, as it helps to build confidence.

Quote from Program Participant
N.B. All SG Change Leadership Workshops (CLW) & Masterclasses are now available as Webinars on Zoom or MS Teams

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