Talent Strategy & Org Culture

Public education systems, agencies and nonprofits can only meet their goals and aspirations—and implement their ambitious strategies for improving education systems—if their team members are thriving. The employee experience and the organizational structures in place are what allow meaningful work to happen—or get in its way.

Organizations must put the conditions in place internally that lead to staff feeling fulfilled, engaged, challenged and supported—and ensure an organization’s external vision for change in the world aligns with its internal commitments, policies and practices to staff members. Without tending to the key factors that define thriving organizations, (e.g., staff perceptions of leadership, how they experience communication at the organization, whether they feel valued and heard and connected to the mission of the organization) even the smartest, most-responsive and well-researched strategic plans can only take an organization so far. Creating the conditions for its people to thrive is as important as defining an organization’s strategy, designing programs and defining policy stances.

As one of our primary focus areas, Education First helps public sector, education and nonprofit organizations articulate and execute their organizational talent and culture strategy to achieve their mission and convene their stakeholders to design solutions. We also support nonprofits and school districts to develop talent strategies that include a culture-building approach to how they do their work more effectively. We know education-focused organization leaders need (and want) data to inform their people priorities, and need support to focus on talent and culture to make their organizations more effective. This is a moment in time where organizational leaders can and should harness the energy to re-engage staff and reimagine the potential for equitable and inclusive environments for their people to thrive.

Our core expertise within Talent Strategy and Culture includes:

  • Educator talent strategy
  • Organizational development and talent systems, tools and processes
  • Talent, culture and connections: assessing and understanding organizational health and strategies to grow talent and build an inclusive, equitable culture

Some of the recent ways we have helped organizational leaders improve their talent strategy and culture include:

  • We offer a tool—our Thriving Organizational Profile (TOP)—that measures the research-based factors that define thriving organizations; with results from the TOP assessment in hand, we have helped  leaders (clients include California Department of Education, Committee for Children, EdReports, SEAL and the Los Angeles County of Education) translate the findings into action and what to do next to create the right conditions.
  • We helped one organization define with its staff what excellent professional practice looks like, aligned to the organization’s overall theory of action, core values and the DEI commitments they had made as an organization. We combined our expertise in building competency models with intensive staff engagement to arrive at a shared, relevant definition of excellence for staff. In addition, we built a learning agenda for the organization that prioritizes skill-building related to the new competency model, and are supporting the organization to align its other talent systems to these new tools.
  • We have supported multiple organizations to create relevant, values-aligned and inclusive competency models.
  • We have worked with Buffalo Public Schools, Indianapolis Public Schools and other school systems to identify a comprehensive, systemwide approach to educator talent and communicate it to key stakeholders.