Trust. It’s one of those reciprocal things in life isn’t it? We’ve got to give it to receive it. Often, as childcare owners, we think about the trust parents give us when they leave their babies in our care. They entrust us with their most precious ones and then when they leave us testimonials, that builds the confidence in our business within the community.
In this blog, however, I want to focus on the trust we have in our childcare employees, not just the customers. It’s a huge area to dive into, but one we have got to truly understand if we want to grow our businesses!
And you can’t build confidence in your business and expect them employees to have faith in you and your leadership if you don’t totally trust the team you’re working with. So how can we, as childcare business owners, develop our capacity to trust? How can we create a culture in the workplace that encourages trust? I hope this article will help you find some answers…
Watch out for kids playing your team
Recently, one of the children came up to me when I came out of my office and asked me to go to the bathroom, despite there being 3 other adults in the room. I looked around. They were all there, all available. So I asked her, “why are you asking me, there’s three other teacher in here?” The little girl looked me in the eye and said, “because you’re the boss.” I was honestly quite shocked but I told her, “honey, you need to go and ask one of the other teachers because they are in charge of this room right now.” So she did…
But this got me thinking. If I had said “yes, go on”, I could have easily undermined the other adults in the room who may have already said no. Perhaps the child in question had already been several times and was playing around with the taps. Or this could be an issue their parents are concerned about and my staff know more specifics around the issue at this moment…but whatever it is, I trust my team.
Whatever the kids try and sneak around, it’s always good to remind them that the other adults who care for them are important and they deserve respect.
Parents jumping the authority line
And the same goes if there’s an issue with parents. Encourage families to stay within the chain of command, per se, and not skip straight to you as the owner. Going straight to the top – that presumptuous “I want to see your manager” superiority – seems like something that is becoming more prevalent in society, and that’s dripping into the kids attitudes as well.
Let’s work together with our teams to do things systematically, because actually your team have got the creativity and problem solving skills to cope. They just need the opportunity to flex that muscle! Demonstrate your trust in your team. Politely point out that the staff are well-qualified to support their needs. Unless there is a problem beyond their capabilities, you have confidence in your team to do their best for your business and the families you work with.
Undermining your team members is a way to build distrust and a bad atmosphere in your childcare business. You want to create a morale within your team, to build them up. Show them appreciation and respect by pointing out their skills and directing children (and parents!) to them as figures of authority.
Build trust with your team
You’re trying to grow your business, but to do this it’s incredibly important that you build trust with your team. This can come in various forms! Some of which I can briefly cover here: responsibility, giving feedback, providing support, offering training, communication.
Making other people aware of the responsibilities and delegation you’re giving to individual team members is essential. It shows how much you trust them, and it models to other staff that there’s something to aim for. It keeps them accountable but also helps remind you that you’ve got a fantastic team around you to lean on!
Trust comes from being honest and open, so ensure that you give constructive feedback to your team when you’ve given them a new responsibility or challenge. Tell them how impressed you are with aspects of it, and ask them if they can suggest ways of doing better next time. Put the onus for change on them. You know where they went wrong, so do they. We can all learn here.
Offer support and training wherever you can. Doing in-house professional development training in areas you have expertise, but then getting in a guest expert for other things so you can participate too demonstrates trust on another level.
Be a role model
I’ve previously talked about how I communicate with my teams, we use Slack and WhatsApp to keep us all in the loop, and to motivate each other. Communication is super important.
Part of communication – particularly as educators – is modelling making mistakes and being resilient. This builds trust too. When I own up to something I’ve done wrong – for example if I’ve lost something and blame someone else for tidying it away…then later find it’s actually me who moved it; or if an order went in late and I’m annoyed at the delivery guy…because it’s actually still sat in my outbox because the internet blipped! Whatever it is – I take ownership of my hiccups and I tell the team about them. What have I learned here? (Put things in their place, breathe before getting annoyed, etc…)
The benefits that come with this are that your team feel they can own up to mistakes they might make and know that you’re a safe person to talk to. They can trust you to help them. So I urge you to be a good role model. Don’t put yourself on a pedestal or patronize them. Show them you respect and value them!
How do you build trust with your team?
Over the years, I’ve learned the ins and outs of running a childcare business and I love what I do. I love it so much that I’ve developed a program to support other childcare business owners in building their empires! Women supporting other women is so powerful! And we ought to be raising each other up, right? Sound good? Come and join us over on the Facebook group!
And if you’d like to find out more about becoming a Childcare Ninja, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup!