SOURCE: Siksika Board of Education

July 17, 2015 02:00 ET

Siksika Education Adopts New Model of Excellence

First Nation Implements Performance System -- Saves Tens of Thousands of Dollars in First 90 Days

SIKSIKA NATION, AB--(Marketwired - July 17, 2015) - The Siksika Board of Education (SBE), which oversees primary and secondary schooling in the Siksika Nation in Alberta, today announced the results of a new Human Performance Management (HPM) system they implemented this year: The system has enabled SBE to realize productivity gains and cost savings in the tens of thousands of dollars in the first ninety days since its launch.

Originally, funding from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) was made available to implement a Human Resource (HR) package, but SBE soon realized that conventional HR software wouldn't meet their objectives. They weren't looking for another "administrative software package"; they were after the tools and processes that would enable everyone to accomplish more with available resources.

SBE enlisted the help of Mark Cheadle, a consultant from Cochrane Alberta, to review their objectives and help set out a course of action with some pretty ambitious goals: To implement the necessary systems, processes and training that would instill a culture of achievement throughout the organization and yield productivity gains through improved organizational alignment, execution of work activity and greater accountability.

Foundation of a Performance Culture
The way to increase performance across an organization can be counter-intuitive; as Mark Cheadle states, "Rather than addressing productivity as a project that's outside of regular operations, the HPM program integrates the building blocks of high performance into everyone's daily work activity, and in doing so, impacts every task and project that's undertaken in the normal course of the work week. It has key features needed for sustainability and enables every person to contribute more and contribute at a higher level."

Instead of focusing on productivity gains or dollar savings, the HPM program "redefines people's approach to work -- how projects are managed, the level of individual planning, the degree of collaboration, and above all, the execution of vital tasks. Productivity gains and savings are a natural result of the program. They are substantial, they begin to accrue quickly and continue month after month -- so the payoff is huge. It's a professional approach to work, geared to achieving tangible results that can be applied to any organization," according to Cheadle.

"This performance program involves every person in our organization -- Admin staff, teachers, principals, maintenance… everyone," said Lenora Rabbit Carrier, Acting Superintendent of SBE. "It's all-encompassing and I'm seeing positive changes at every level. I can be out of town and still scroll through individual work plans for the coming week. I know what the priorities are, who's working on what, the status of projects, and I'm able to add recommendations to each work plan."

The Board of Directors reviewed the program outline, saw the benefits immediately and gave full support. Both the Board and Lenora could see how this strengthened organizational culture would translate into improvements in delivery of classroom instruction.

Annual Savings in the Hundreds of Thousands
Return on investment for the program is substantial. According to Darren Pietrobono, Treasurer for the Siksika Board of Education, "Salaries and benefits typically represent 75+ % of operating expenses for organizations like ours. Given this level of spending, a program like HPM that achieves real, measurable gains through human performance can return hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual savings even within a single department."

"This performance program is an incredible boost to our organization. Going forward we'll be able to undertake new initiatives by leveraging productivity gains achieved through our investment in HPM. And beyond the annual dollar savings, we're developing the capacity to plan better, assign resources and execute tasks quickly. We're accomplishing a lot more," said Darren Pietrobono.

The HPM project is now into the final phase. "The parts we've completed to date seem to have unleashed a renewed energy to achieve more and accomplish things faster," said Cheadle. "People are executing better. They're knocking off one project after another, there's more collaboration and everyone has a better sense of what's expected and how each can contribute. It's really something to see this program unfold. With continued leadership support and strong management, there's no limit to what Siksika Education can achieve."

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