Creating staff harmony

Written by Laney Paulson

Building and balancing staff morale is not an easy task. On the Musket staff at Orange Glen High School in Escondido, Calif., we spent a few years trying different activities, strategies and processes, and hit upon a blend of these that assisted in creating a positive, productive environment.

Many small aspects of the staff culture made class and deadlines enjoyable, but these five specific parts to our staff operation made hard work and long, frustrating hours pleasant.

1. Food. Food during deadlines helped our staff tremendously. While editors were expected to stay after school to complete their tasks, providing small snacks increased the amount of time they stayed. Besides encouraging editors, other staff members stayed during deadlines and helped complete tasks. In fact, more students were willing to complete even small and tedious tasks knowing food was available. Offering nourishment increased staff morale and occasionally worked as a bribe to get things done.

2. Awards. After every deadline, members filled out an evaluation form on personal performance and the performance of editors, the editor-in-chief and managing editor.  The form also asked staff members to recognize one of their colleagues who they felt did an exemplary job on that deadline. During the next class period, we read aloud what was written about the nominees, and the person receiving the most mentions received a special prize and a certificate to hang in the classroom. Winners of the “Best Story” and “Best Picture” of the deadline also were chosen. Recognizing students for each deadline showed that editors appreciate all the staff did.

3. Respect. Staff members respected their editors and our adviser, our adviser respected editors’ decisions, and most importantly, our principal respected us.  As a staff, we understood the importance of maintaining a good relationship with the principal.  We were lucky that he supports the First Amendment and understood our duty as a publication.  Also, staff members knew the large amount of work put into creating a publication and because of this, they respected deadlines and took them seriously, working to complete everything to their best ability.

4. Student run. Our adviser allowed students to take the reins of the class. During class, students helped each other and monitored progress of the work.  As a student, it is so much easier to take instruction from someone your age and your equal rather than having a teacher tell you what to do.

5. Relationships. Taking time to build friendships helped our staff by allowing students to learn things about each other that they typically wouldn’t learn in a classroom setting. Playing games and icebreakers helped our staff to bond and develop a trusting working relationship.

Implementing these guidelines will improve communication and work ethic among your staff.

Laney Paulson