Including in schools, leadership and communication are critical factors, in light of the prevailing organizational culture. Al Qemma School is the organization of focus for the analysis in terms of the organizational goals, leadership, communication and cultural agents that are in play within the organisation. To achieve the objective of analysing the effectiveness of leadership and communication within the school, the first section is an analysis of the goals of the organisation, looking into those that have been met and those that are yet to be achieved. Two of the goals have been met while another two have not been met. There are important metaphors discussed that explain the understanding of the school as an organisation, the organisation as a machine and the organisation as an organism. The strengths and weaknesses of each view are discussed in details. Distributive and transformational leadership are evident in the school, with their own strengths and drawbacks. Communication and work process are critical parts of the working of the organisation, with several channels being in place all of which apply technology (Waldron, & Kassing, 2011). The cultural agents that influence the working of the school are also discussed. The areas for change and the plan for the change are identified.
Al Qemma School has met two of its objectives while another two are yet to be met. The first goal, and one that has not been met, is the development of an assessment plan for monitoring and tracking the performance and progress of the students. The second goal, and one that has been met, is the involvement of the wider community in the processes of teaching and learning. The third goal, another which is yet to be met, is building/developing the knowledge and understanding of the teachers concerning successful strategies for teaching and learning. The last goal that has been met is the development of targeted continuing support for the students with special learning needs.
An assessment of the school indicates some critical factors that underlie the success or failure to meet the goals of the school. Failure to have an assessment system that is targeted to the needs of the school, reflecting failure in leadership, is one of the reasons for the failure to achieve the objectives. Inadequacy in leadership is also reflected in the system of assessment failing to reflect the actual performance of the students. A communication failure is evident in the lack of willingness by the parents to take part in the process of teaching and learning. Therefore, this has affected the achievement of the goal through engaging the wider community in the process. While there are students with special learning needs, the management of the school has not provide adequate number of teachers with the knowledge on addressing these needs. Development of the teachers with the knowledge has been affected by the failure to have a well-resources English faculty in the school. Hence, any efforts to achieve the goals should be focused on filling the identified gaps.
Metaphors are critical communication devices to support the understanding of the world (Buono & Jamieson, 2010). They are the conceptual devices emanating from our mental models for making sense of our world. They are the most effective way of understanding how the organisation works (Suchman, 2011). Mental models, as proposed by Senge (2014), indicates the acutely entrenched assumptions and mental images influencing the understanding of the world. According to Hussain and Hafeez (2009), they play a role in comprehending the style of leadership, organizational structure, behaviours adopted in the management and control by assigning meanings to the entire organization.
One of the ways of understanding the organisation is as a machine. The strengths and weaknesses of the view are discussed in details. The view is such that the organisation is seen as working mechanically to produce outputs from the input (Grint & Woolgar, 2013). Al Qemma School operates, to some extent, according to the metaphor. The administrators and principals are expected to operate like managers, while the teachers are expected to have some knowledge and qualifications to provide the required results. The schools operate according to some rules that regulate all the operations including when the instructions sessions and break times should be. They have targets that they have to meet (outputs) from the input) training and development and the teaching and learning process. The main strength in this view is that it capitalizes on people operating in such a way that they are achieving the goals of the organization. The main weakness is that viewing people like machines make them lose their control as they are controlled (Grint & Woolgar, 2013). It is possible for the people to lose morale and commitment to the organisation because their needs are not put into consideration in this view.
The view of the organization as an organism views it as a place where the people should operate as living organisms (Morgan, 2006). The primary concern is the needs of the members of the organisation to make them capable of meeting the objectives. The working of the parts affects the working of the whole system (Gallistel, 2013). At Al Qemma School, the structures within the school are created like an organism. For instance, the administration is the head of the school because it is where the policies emanate. The teachers also play an important role because they are parts of the system that implement the policies. The needs of the students are met because they are also an important part of the system. The main strength of the metaphor is that the people have to operate in a way that needs are being met in order to survive. Therefore, the survival of those in the organization means that it will survive as a whole. However, the view has a weakness in that only the fittest will survive because they are most capable of meeting the needs.
Leadership style has a critical impact on organizational learning, including in complex organizations such as schools (Vera & Crossan, 2004; Waldman, Keller & Berson, 2006). In Al Qemma School, the style of leadership in place is distributive leadership. To differing extent, the five disciplines of a learning organization as proposed by Senge (2014) are evident in the school. Under the distributive leadership all the members of the organisation have specialised roles that they have to play to accomplish the objectives of the school. Team learning is the organizational learning discipline that is practiced within the school. Under this model, there is a dialogue allowing the team members to work together through shared assumptions and thinking (Senge et al., 2000). The roles are distributed among the different teams, which comprise of committees of teachers and administrators.
The main strength of this leadership is in the accountability to ensure that all the roles are adequately shared for more convenience in performance. The roles are also adequately performed because each of the teams works hard to ensure that the tasks assigned are adequately done (Harris, 2013). Distribution of the roles also ensures that none of the teams or members has a lot of tasks than they can handle. However, the style has a drawback in that some teams or committees drag others behind, especially in an environment where the roles are not clearly defined. Some of the teams work on their own without sharing knowledge or collaborating.
The school has some element of transformational leadership where the head identifies and rewards good performance by the teachers making them more effective in their work. Transformational leadership is implemented through development of the teachers to be leaders by themselves (Scheerens, 2012). This has allowed the possibility of developing differentiated learning because the teachers lead their classrooms and are in control over their curriculum. The model has the strength in developing leaders in all the teachers, making the system to run more effectively. However, the administrator should be careful in rewarding performance because those teachers who are left out can lack motivation to work towards success. The impact is evident where there is feeling of inadequate involvement in the process of decision making, particularly where only tasks are allocated. Thus, the weakness of the model is the possibility of causing reduced motivation because the rewards and development of the employees cannot be on the same level.
Within the school, the administrators and the teachers have different personal mastery, indicating the reality in achievement of the goals of the school. It is through meeting personal objectives that the objectives of the system as a whole can be achieved. The school indicate a need to continue developing personal vision to align them to those of the school. The failure is evident in the fact that there are goals that are yet to be met. The strength of this discipline is that it can be used by the leaders to develop personal and professional learning and development. The weakness is in the potential to achieve personal goals and ignore the goals of the whole (school).
The importance of building a shared vision for the school is an area that the leaders seek to achieve, though success is questionable. The reality is reflected in the efforts to establish the goals of the school that the members seek to work to achieve. The administration of the school, at the administration block, seeks to create the shared image of the future that the teachers should work towards achieving. The discipline has the strength of enhancing commitment of the teachers, in line with transformational leadership, where the commitment is adequately rewarded. However, there is a weakness in that some cases occur where the teachers do not share in the vision and the decisions that are made at the top and passed down on them.
Communication and Work Process
Al Qemma School use technology in enhancing communications. For example, the school has a website used as an information exchange tool between various stakeholders. The website remains an important tool for sharing information between the different members of the organisation. Some of the information posted on the website includes progress reports, meeting agendas, calendars, and instructional plans. Technology in the form of cell phones and social media also plays an important communicative role (Hunt, 2007). The modes of communication have become popular in the school because they provide fast and convenient means of communicating. Communication, especially through the use of technology, has an impact in allowing sharing of knowledge and information (García-Morales, Jiménez-Barrionuevo, & Gutiérrez-Gutiérrez, 2012). Professional development information is available at the schools because of access to the Internet and social media. Teachers are learning from each other, the Internet and through the information provided by the administration through the website. Online surveys are playing a critical role in improving the organizational learning process as they provide information on the areas requiring improvement (Nair, 2012). The strength of the mode of communication is founded on the informal nature, allowing relaxation. However, it should be noted that applications can distract the communication process. Regular updates on the mobile phones allow the teachers to keep track of all information. Also, the excessive use of the applications interferes with the need for physical meetings. In fact, this can have a negative impact given the reality that the use of the platform relies on the internet and availability of devices, something that is not necessary in physical meetings (Nestor-Harper, 2013). Therefore, teamwork is greatly hampered in the process with some negative ramifications.
In the school, work progress is not well organized. Therefore, decisions are not well planned, hence reducing the understanding member’s expectations in the organization. Communications are not working in the same direction, with the members of staff assuming their schedules and breaks. It has proven difficult to hold meetings during the school day. It has also hampered personal interactions, affecting overall relationships within the school.
Cultural Agents in the School
The cultural agents have a role in influencing organizational learning. Some of the agents at Al Qemma School include reward and other ceremonies, desks/workplaces, school announcements, absenteeism and time among others. If well managed, the agents can have an impact through motivating and promoting operations towards achieving the vision of the school. The reality is that the cultural agents are the defining factors of the school. For instance, the factors, including ceremony, define the level of unity between the teachers (Alas & Vadi, 2006). Such events require them to come together and come up with creative ideas. They are also the determinants of motivation, especially with the use of rewards. These are the factors behind improved learning and productivity.
The agents can also be the basis for effective communication; for instance, with the culture of social media enhancing information exchange (Mistry, 2010). Enhanced learning capabilities are the basis for improved learning. The agents are also charged with the responsibility of defining the mission and vision of the school. The culture is the basis for the work towards achievement of the objectives of the organization (Senge et al., 2012). The agents determine the level of discipline and adherence to the mission (Somprach, Prasertcharoensuk, & Ngang, 2015). The rules and regulations allow for improved discipline by teachers and students. Efforts to address some agents such as absenteeism assist towards improved productivity.
Factors That Facilitate or Inhibit Organizational Learning
One of the factors that facilitate organizational learning is the leadership style. Distributed leadership and transformational leadership have played a role in improving learning in the school. In fact, this has been achieved through sharing of leadership roles and developing leadership from the teachers to ensure effective performance of tasks. Diagonal and quick communication through the social media has also allowed effective learning within the organization since communication is the basis for successful information sharing, and hence learning (Shockley-Zalabak, 2011). Mental models enhance learning because they are the elements that allow a better understanding of the organization and the environment within which the firm is performing.
Hierarchical leadership is an inhibiting factor for organizational learning as it hinders adequate flow of information. It makes the members lower in the hierarchy into simply receptors of tasks while decisions are made at the top, hence hindering motivation. The school culture can inhibit organizational learning, such as the culture of separating grade levels. The culture hinders learning through reduced motivation from some of the teachers at some levels. Individual planning and practice can hamper organizational learning at the school based on the lack of collaborative and team efforts. Use of social media for communication, hindering physical communication, can have a negative impact on learning at the school. Top-down communication hinders learning by inhibiting creativity and sharing of information and ideas.
As it is palpable from the analysis of Al Qemma School, it is evident that the school is working, but not as it should be based on the inhibitors of organizational learning. The school has achieved only two out of its four goals, which means that more work is necessary. The problem in communication, leadership, and the culture of the organization should be addressed for success to be attained, which entails the achievement of the vision and the goals of the school.
Alas, R. & Vadi, M. (2006). The impact of organizational culture on organizational learning and attitudes concerning change from an institutional perspective. International Journal of Strategic Change Management, 1(1/2), 155. doi:10.1504/ijscm.2006.011109
Buono, A., & Jamieson, D. (2010). Consultation for organizational change. North Carolina: IAP Publishing.
Gallistel, C. R. (2013). The organization of action: A new synthesis. Psychology Press.
García-Morales, V. J., Jiménez-Barrionuevo, M. M., & Gutiérrez-Gutiérrez, L. (2012). Transformational leadership influence on organizational performance through organizational learning and innovation. Journal of business research, 65(7), 1040-1050.
Grint, K., & Woolgar, S. (2013). The machine at work: Technology, work and organization. John Wiley & Sons.
Harris, A. (2013). Distributed school leadership: Developing tomorrow’s leaders. Routledge.
Hunt, F. (2007). Communication in Education. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED501789.pdf
Hussain, Z., & Hafeez, K. (2009). Using metaphors for making sense of end-user attitudes and behavior during Information Systems Development. Journal of Organizational and End User Computing, Vol. 21, No. 2, 1–27.
Mistry, V. (2010). Collaborative learning and development: critical success factors from the experience of four UK universities. Development And Learning In Organizations: An International Journal, 24(2), 14-16. doi:10.1108/14777281011019461
Morgan, G. (2006). Images of Organization. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers & Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Moufarrige, M. (2012). Managing the challenges technology creates in the workplace. Dynamicbusiness.com. Retrieved from http://www.dynamicbusiness.com.au/business-tech-blogs/managing-the-challenges- technology-creates-in-the-workplace-08062012.html
Nair, B. (2012). The role of effective communication in school achievement. Journal Of Humanities And Social Science, 1(6). http://dx.doi.org/10.9790/0837-0160102
Nestor-Harper,M. (2013). The disadvantages of technology in the workplace. Huston Chronicle. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/disadvantages-technology-workplace-20157.html
Senge, P. M. (2014). The fifth discipline fieldbook: Strategies and tools for building a learning organization. Crown Business.
Senge, P., Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B., Dutton, J., & Kleiner, A. (2000). A fifth discipline resource: Schools that learn. A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education.
Senge, P., Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., & Smith, B. (2012).Schools that learn (Updated and Revised): A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education (1st ed., pp. 1-608). New York: Crown Publishing Group.
Scheerens, J. (2012). Summary and conclusion: Instructional leadership in schools as loosely coupled organizations. In School Leadership Effects Revisited (pp. 131-152). Springer Netherlands.
Shockley-Zalabak, P. (2011). Fundamentals of organizational communication. Allyn & Bacon.
Somprach, K., Prasertcharoensuk, T., &Ngang, T. (2015).The Impact of organizational culture on teacher learning. .Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 186, 1038-1044. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.020
Suchman, A. L. (2011). Organizations as machines, organizations as conversations: two core metaphors and their consequences. Medical Care, 49, S43-S48.
Vera, D., & Crossan, M. (2004). Strategic leadership and organizational learning. Academy of management review, 29(2), 222-240.
Waldman, D. A., Keller, R., & Berson, Y. (2006). Leadership and organizational learning. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(1), 110-111.
Waldron, V.R. & Kassing, J.W. (2011). Managing Risk in Communion Encounters. London, UK: Sage Publication, Inc.