I am relatively new to the Child Care Marketing Solutions Staff, but am a long time fan and client of the company. In fact, I have spent the last five years learning from “the amazing” Kris Murray and have been a member of several of her programs. You see, I am ALSO a super busy child care center owner and director! I was once lost and struggling with pulling it all off until I met Kris Murray. I’ve grown my business from 32 to 120+ children with Kris’s help. And currently, I am in the process of selling my center and transitioning into the next phase of my career on the Child Care Marketing Solutions team.
But right now, in this present moment, I am still in the trenches, managing my center right there with you. I have a lot on my plate, and to top it all off, my Assistant Director, my right hand girl, one of the few people that can just read my mind, is on maternity leave! So not only, am I in the midst of a business sale, starting an amazing new job, AND am down my most important staff member, I am also getting ready to LEAVE MY CENTER for a WHOLE WEEK to attend the Child Care Success Summit. Many of you might think I am completely nuts! This combination of issues is enough to make any owner or director re-think whether or not they should attend. How can I possibly LEAVE MY CENTER at a time like this?
Really, for you, it could be any number of things: your paperwork is piling up, you are short staffed, you are expecting a licensing visit, your house is a mess…..It doesn’t matter what the excuse or distraction might be, but SOMETHING is going to happen that might make you think, “I can’t go this year…Maybe next year….I just can’t get away right now.”
I am here to tell you, you owe it to yourself to push through these thoughts and figure out how to get there. The Summit is always a life changing event for me and my staff. For some of you, it could be the difference between closing your doors OR finally achieving the success you set out for.
Here are a few things I do to get ready to leave my center. It’s my hope that sharing these tips will help more directors make it to the Summit with peace of mind, knowing that things at your center will be OK without you for a few days!
- Beef up your MINDSET! Have a strong, positive belief in your staff. Trust them. They can do it. They are competent, and they want to do their best. If you give them a few extra duties while you are away, they will most likely feel trusted, empowered, and important…which can be great for overall staff morale. If your company culture isn’t the greatest right now, believe it or not, they still will most likely step it up and pull together while you are gone (and you will learn some amazing things about boosting morale and improving company culture at the Summit.)
- Have SYSTEMS in place for smooth operation of your center. If you don’t already have these in place, it might take a little more time to implement, but you can get started by just writing out some basic instructions (including the exact steps to accomplish the tasks) for what needs to get done while you are away. If you don’t already have written systems for your center, make creating an “Operations Manual” a goal for this year.
- DELEGATE! Have a short meeting with each staff member that will be taking on extra duties while you are out and go over what is expected. You can walk through any unfamiliar tasks with them and answer questions on the spot. If there is enough time, you can even let them give these things a trial run “for real” before you leave so you are both more comfortable with the process. They will feel prepared and excited to be assigned this new responsibility, and you can rest easy knowing that stuff is getting done (without you!)
- COMMUNICATE clear expectations. Clearly define who is your person or persons in charge, and who is responsible for which tasks. Maybe even let parents know that you will be at a conference for a few days, and let them know who to contact for any minor issues that come up.
- Check in for SUPPORT while you are gone, if you need to. But if you follow these procedures enough times, you’ll get to the point that you won’t feel need to check in constantly when you are away. You will just know that everything back home is ok. They’ve got it, and they will call if there is a true emergency.
Bottom line, realize that even if it doesn’t go perfectly, it will be OK. Does it really go perfectly when YOU are there? Your staff will do their best, just like you do. But after attending the Child Care Success Summit, you will have recharged your soul and come back to the center a better leader with a clearer vision, and next year you will be more prepared to leave.