The district is considering contracting-out services, and your position is on the line. You have data – both hard and soft – demonstrating the negative side of such a move. But wouldn't presentation of your case just be an obvious attempt to look out for yourself?
There's more talk about budget cuts, and the need to combine positions. Personnel will inevitably be on the chopping block. This is the time to sing your own praises – and, in fact, you're more versatile and adaptable than others in the department. Although your self-interest meshes with the company's interests, won't you just look like an opportunist if you speak up?
Many of us engage in a year-round search for balance between wanting to be anonymous and wanting to be noticed, wanting to give and hoping to receive, wanting to appear humble and needing to represent your strengths in a forthright manner. This drive for reconciliation of opposing emotions was at the foundation of my obsession yesterday about an article sent to me by my co-consultant with Education Compliance Group, good friend, and most respected HR professional Mark Hinson. His cover email stated "Interesting article making the case for sexual harassment training in person." Mark had recognized an opportunity for us to publicize the valuable training and consultation services we offer via Education Compliance Group on employee-employee sexual harassment.
The Dec. 9, 2013 article, by a respected consultant/trainer in Mark's region strongly implies that recent court opinions on a particular workplace sexual harassment case had blasted the use of a training video, shown to both employees and management alike, which provided "no opportunity for interactive dialog with a professional trainer." In fact, the case that triggered the article is nearly two years old. While inferences could be drawn about the courts' preferences for in-person training, the judicial opinions involved were far more vague about the necessity for specific training methods.
The article's author knew a good publicity angle when she saw it. I found it somewhat self-serving, but was – and am – absolutely ready to get on the bandwagon with a Legal Routes article about the value of our in-services about employee-to-employee sexual harassment. You see, I have the guts to self-serve if it's in my readers' and colleagues' best interests. I'll segue into discussion about my initial forays into using Skype and other methods to provide cost-effective front-row, interactive training to school transporters without my ever having to get on a plane. I believe completely in the absolute benefits an entity can gain by having customized training programs with an instructor at the site who can help personnel understand what the issues mean to them. I soundly buy into in the comparative value of a "real" person, available to tailor training to the needs of a particular state, region, company, or district over a generic video product – let alone, one that may be stale or not directly relevant to the industry.
The question is not the value of the service available, but the motive of the person advocating use of the service. With mixed motives, should the potential to be seen as too obvious, too opportunistic water down my approach.
It's a broader question, if you'll follow me down the crossroads of my mind and tie these questions into the scenarios at the beginning of this blog. What if you have an idea that will benefit students but also show off your talents and strategies? What if you see the value of creation of a new position that you're just the person to fill? Are you hesitant to advance your ideas – especially if you stand to gain from adoption? How do you feel about shameless self-promotion. . . .if it would be good for your organization and its mission?
Well, I'm going to push ahead with my article. I'm banking on Legal Routes subscribers focusing more on the points I'll make about training concerns and less on the fact that I'm shamelessly marketing my company's services. I think it comes down to this: If the people you serve will be better off because you spoke up, then speak up. What do you think?
Peggy Burns is the former in-house counsel for Adams 12 Five Star Schools in Thornton, Colo., and currently owns and operates Education Compliance Group, Inc., a legal consultancy specializing in education and transportation issues. She is also a frequent speaker at national and state conferences and is the editor of the publication Legal Routes that covers pupil transportation law and compliance.