Ask the Experts: Teachers Who Hint at Leaving

How can we protect ourselves as owners when talented teachers who know their value hint about leaving if things don’t go exactly their way? Where’s the line on give-and-take?  

Don’t let this attitude and behavior undermine your studio culture. It’s best to address it directly with the teacher in question. While confidence is an admirable trait, it shouldn’t be used as a way for a teacher to bully you.

A regular performance review is an appropriate vehicle for faculty to express areas where they think studio management could improve and, likewise, you can offer them constructive feedback. We recommend you include this in your teacher contract. You may find, for example, that a teacher wants more artistic expression—extra choreography opportunities, a chance to lead an outreach program—but doesn’t know how to broach that subject with you. We also suggest you conduct regular faculty meetings, with an emphasis on individual goals (as well as studio goals) to help you identify where your teachers want to grow personally and professionally.

Be certain your teacher pay rates are competitive, and see if a raise (even a slight one) is called for, based on a teacher’s performance and experience. But remember that in any business, good talent comes and goes. There will be times when, despite your efforts, nothing will change a teacher’s attitude—and in this case, it’s best for you to invite them to move on to other employment opportunities.   

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

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