H2M Senior Architect Joseph Flynn Presents on Leadership at NJ Trade Show

H2M Senior Architect Joseph Flynn Presents on Leadership at NJ Trade Show

On Tuesday, March 19, H2M’s Senior Architect and Senior Associate Joseph Flynn, Ed.D., RA presented to an audience of buildings and grounds directors, supervisors, and head custodians at the 2024 New Jersey School Buildings & Grounds Association Conference/Expo. His 45-minute presentation, titled “Leading Your Team to Success,” coached school leaders in management styles and best practices for staff engagement.

The role of a buildings and grounds supervisor has changed over the last few decades. Twenty years ago, supervisors may not have needed to prioritize school safety or environmental sustainability. Now, the New Jersey Department of Education has new compliance requirements, such as documenting how much of each building is covered by sprinklers or other fire suppression systems. On top of that, trying to fill custodial staff positions has become increasingly challenging. Supervisors must manage their staff under unusual circumstances and become experts in conflict resolution. Dr. Flynn helped attendees develop the skills to meet the new responsibilities of this evolving role.

Dr. Flynn began by asking the crowd, what is the difference between a manager and a leader? According to him, a manager takes control and ensures that operations are executed to the expected standard; They focus on the process and its outcomes. A leader shares these responsibilities, but they also define a vision for the group and inspire other to achieve it; They focus on their people. Dr. Flynn asked attendees to vote on their most important responsibility as a facility director. More than 84% of the crowd agreed that “ensuring the safety and functionality of the physical environment for employees and visitors” was their top priority. “Sometimes you have to be a manager,” Dr. Flynn admitted, “but it shouldn’t be your daily operation.” He challenged the audience to self-reflect and ask which sounded one sounded more like their day-to-day style

Dr. Flynn’s top recommendation for his audience was to talk to their teams outside of strictly business operations. “It’s easy to just give orders,” he claimed. “It’s much harder to know your staff.” Engaged staff members care about the team vision and feel motivated to work towards it. Does everyone share the same definitions of common terms? Does everyone understand the standards expected from them? Are expectations being met and tracked? Are future leaders being built up? Connecting with the administrators higher in the hierarchy is also critical. Principals, business administrators, and superintendents need to understand and agree to a vision in order to help facilitate its success.

Dr. Flynn closed by sharing his preferred leadership style: “No one can know everything, do everything. Surround yourself with people who know what you don’t know. Focus on the people who like what you’re doing and support you.”

To connect with Dr. Flynn and ask how the design of a school district’s buildings and ground can support team engagement, email him at JFlynn@H2M.com.