Do you ever find that you felt like you told someone to do something and they either don’t do it or just can’t seem to get it right? Quite often it’s not their fault. Many times it actually turns out to be your fault. “Who Me?” Yes, you! As leaders we often know what we want done but have trouble communicating it to our staff. The goal is to lthings are getting done efficiently by ensuring they are done correctly the first time.
First you must identify WHO is on your team. Before you can ask them to do something, you must understand who you have to put your plan into action. Understanding who are your A players vs. your D players on your team will give you clarity of what they are capable of doing. While you wouldn’t give your assistant teacher the responsibility of implementing a new curriculum, you do know that she has a theater background and might ask her if she would be interested in putting together a spring recital for families. When you can identify the different strengths and weaknesses that your individual team members have you will be able to delegate tasks and expectations with ease.
Once you know WHO you have on your team and what they are capable of doing you must make sure that WHAT and HOW to do it is clearly defined. Do you have clear policies and procedures for your staff? While it can be time consuming to generate, it is worth having strong written onboarding and training procedures at your center. Staff cannot be at fault if they have never been taught WHAT and HOW things are done at the school. The more time and effort you put into their training, the more confusion and frustration will be alleviated down the road.
Even after appropriate training has been done, it is important to review these tasks and have clearly written procedures for them to reference. Create an operations manual! It is essential to have an operations manual for anyone working at your center to reference when they are in doubt of how something is to be done. Additionally, they will learn to go there first instead of coming to you every time they have a question or even worse not doing it at all!
To truly reinforce your center’s policies and procedures it is important for you team to understand WHY you do it. Does your team truly understand why you do the things the way that you do? Here is an example: How familiar is your team with state licensing guidelines that ensure we are providing the best care for our children and families? Child care providers are governed by state licensing that quite often makes centers operate the way they do because of their rules and regulations. Additionally, each program is unique.
There are additional procedures that may be needed at your location that a new staff member needs to be aware of no matter how many years of experience they have in early childhood. It is your responsibility to check for understanding of the WHY behind what you do.
Lastly and most importantly, REWARD your staff for executing these procedures correctly! Catch them doing something good. It is human nature to look for something wrong, but only pointing out your team’s faults will demotivate them. It is important to give recognition for even the simplest of tasks. Do you have some form of a rewards program at your center for team members? It is equally important to give praise in a meaningful way. Knowing your staff members on a personal level helps you to personalize their reward better.
If you don’t know them very well yet but you still want to show them some personalized praise, a simple hand written thank you note can go far and is more cost friendly than buying a gift card or gift! I recommend reading The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People by Gary Chapman & Paul White. It is a great book that has helped me understand how to provide praise in more meaning full ways.
The bottom line is that you need to know WHO on your team knows WHAT and HOW to implement what you want done. Things will get done if your staff understands WHY you want it done that way and they get REWARDED for it.