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When someone enters the world of ESL business they often are all about offering quality to the student. This is a great place to start and end and should always be on the mind of the school, but before students are to get the best treatment out there, the school has to treat the staff even better.
Why is this?
It makes sense because the school owner is most likely not going to be the one who going to directly deal with the students, they simply don’t have time. However, the rest of the staff will be. The rest of the staff, not just the teachers, but everyone has to feel appreciated by the school itself, if they aren’t how are they going to treat their students well? They do represent the school, and if they don’t feel good about the school, no matter how professional they are with the students, the likelihood is that they won’t stay long at the school.
One of the problems in this area is that often ESL schools in non-native speaking countries are owned by people who are most often culturally very different from their own staff. Many school owners want teachers from the western world and multi-lingual customer service staff who are often also not from their own cultural origin. Truth is that often different cultures value different things when it comes to professionalism. A white face on the staff just isn’t enough to keep the western happy, they require intelligent insightful professional dialogues to make them feel they are part of something international, not just local. This is where things can often fall apart.
Sometimes cultural differences come in the form of owners thinking that:
- Staff must be seen to be at their desk at all times
- Staff must not be talking with other staff
- Staff must not question their supervisors
- Staff must do as they are told with no variation
- Staff get paid for the hours they work so that is all they need to worry about
If ESL school owners have a problem retaining international staff, they need to know that this doesn’t have to be so. The problem is probably cultural differences and the sooner you can sort out these issues the better your school will be for both staff and students.