Childcare centers need a fabulous staff in order to be a thriving program. Good quality teachers lead to happy, engaged children, and happy, confident parents who stay with your program until the children age out of care. Unfortunately, you can’t just hire 20 Marry Poppins clones to run your program. And to be quite honest, the popping through pictures would make keeping up with ratios quite a challenge.
So you have to take your teachers where they are and hope for the best, right? No! You can help them to be better tomorrow than they are today by building their skills & knowledge.
To build the best staff, you have to do 2 things. Just 2.
- Care about people
- Invest in them
That’s it. Shortest blog post ever!
What do I mean by “care about people?” You have to get to know your staff. Find out what their interests are. Where do they see themselves in 3 years? Which Winnie the Pooh character do they most identify with?
By really knowing each individual, you will hear what motivates her/him. You’ll notice when the energy level is down or when something has changed. When this happens, if you genuinely care, you’ll pull the teacher into your office and ask questions.
You will hear that she is just done with hearing no from her class of 2 year olds because her son is a middle schooler & that seems to be the only thing he says to her anymore. Well, that & “whatever.”
Armed with that information you can ask if she would like to change classes for a while, or take a mini vacation, or something else. You can problem-solve together.
With this type of interaction you create a bond. You show that she is valued for who she is not just what she can do. She can go to any center & do what she does, but it is only at your center that she can be comfortable being who she truly is.
We invest in our team members by investing time, money & resources into making them the best version of themselves.
You can automate an awful lot in this business. You can have a new hire go through a packaged 8 hour pre-service & orientation program. That saves you time. At least in the short term. In the long term it might lead to having to hire again in 3 weeks.
Spend part of that 8 hours with this baby early childhood professional. Talk to him about what it means to the kids to see him every day. Explain why you do the boo-boo reports & incident reports the way you do. What does this procedure mean to the parents. Introduce him to the teachers he’ll spend the most time with, adding something about what that teacher is known for. He’ll remember them better that way. You don’t need to spend the whole 8 hours with him, but do invest some time.
The conversation with the mom of the middle school boy was an investment in time. Doing an observation in a classroom is an investment of time. Sending the floater into lend an extra hand on a rough day is investing time. Simple to do & simple to overlook.
You’ll invest money in your team members from before you hire them, in advertising, till after they leave, in unemployment taxes. Much of it feels like you have no choice, but you do. Invest it wisely.
Take the background check fees, for instance. I, for one, don’t want to have to pay those for people who aren’t going to go in or for folks that aren’t going to stay for 6 months. So how do you avoid that? Create systems for on-boarding & integrating the new hire into the community and pay someone to implement them. This is smart money.
Hiring a First Aid & CPR instructor to come to your center twice a year is smart money. Invite everyone who will expire before the next scheduled course take the current one. Yes, they may have had 2 more months to go, but isn’t it easier for your teachers to do the training at their home center than to track down another class & figure out how to get there? Invest in making it easy for your staff to stay in compliance with standards.
Investing in resources is a bit harder to quantify. Resources can be time, money, equipment, supplies, time off or connections. If you have a floater who only works part time because she has a school aged child with ADHD who can’t be left alone after the school bus drops off, what resources do you have that might help? If you have an employee who is having plantar fasciitis pain & having a hard time being as active as you want, what resources can you bring to bear to help? I am not suggesting that you try to fix these issues; I am suggesting that you support your staff. Help the floater find babysitters who she feels comfortable with so she can have more flexibility, or see if her child would enjoy your afterschool program. Offer the teacher a day off to go talk to her doctor & maybe get exercises or supports to ease the pain.
This can all seem like a lot. I get it. So find a mentor or get some training to help.
Getting yourself good training on how to manage staff is a key element of investing your time, money & resources wisely.