This week I’m zoning in on why it’s super important for you as a childcare business owner to “know thy staff”. You might think you know them a little already – because you hired them – right? But how well do you really know them? And what do you do to ensure you’re getting the very best out of every single member of your team?
Over the many years that I’ve been running and growing my daycare centers, I am constantly learning that it is a vital part of my role as a business owner. I need to be appreciating the variety of my team members’ backgrounds and embracing all their quirks! Celebrating their unique approach to their work, and supporting them where they need to up their game.
None of this is easy, but I highly recommend taking more notice of your staff. Get to know them and help them flourish! I’m going to explain a bit more about why you need to do this to grow your business, but also how you can do this!
One size doesn’t fit all
When you carry out your interviews for team members, I bet that you look for specific skills, don’t you? You’re not looking for a cookie-cutter childcare worker. You’re hoping to find the team member with the abilities your team are currently missing. So what happens once you’ve found that person? Do you hire them and expect them to be like everyone else?
I implore you to take a look at the staff you’ve recently employed. What training have you offered them? Was it generic training – a one size fits all approach – or did you tailor it to suit their individual needs? This would be a great opportunity to do a skills audit and find out where the gaps are. Professional development is only useful and worth the time and money if there’s learning taking place!
(I just want to point out that it’s funny really, because – as childcare and education specialists – we pride ourselves on our ability to differentiate the learning for the babies in our care…but when it comes to our staff, we rarely do the same. Interesting to note, isn’t it? We should be paving the way for other industries, not doing what they all do!)
All walks of life
I bet that your team are as varied as the plants in your local park! Have you taken time to truly appreciate their backgrounds and unique experiences? Perhaps you could look back over their applications and resumes, or have an informal chat with each team member to figure out how best you can accommodate their needs and demonstrate an appreciation of their individual pathways into childcare.
Get to know your staff and really show them that variety is the spice of life and that you embrace it all! Be inclusive and ensure everyone feels welcome and supported in their journey with you in your business. Valuing your team members for where they’ve come from shows that you truly care about them, and those things shine through to families interested in your services.
Know thy staff to help them
Once you’ve made an effort to get to know your staff you can then help them more. This could be in the simplest form of training opportunities. For example, if you have staff that also happen to be parents, you might want to consider ways you can help them in order that they can be both brilliant parents but also a superstar childcare practitioner in your daycare. What adjustments can you make to help them, which in turn will help you.
Something simple and easily achieved is that you could look into putting all your trainings online. By creating digital training videos, you are saying to those team members with kids (or other caring responsibilities) that you appreciate that they’ve got priorities outside your facility, and that you care, but that you also want to help them grow their skill set. And by making things easier for them to access from home, you’re signalling this to them! They can watch at home, but still ask questions via an app like Slack to clarify things. It truly is the little things that make a difference.
So get to know them, take time to observe them. Be open and flexible. You want them to do their job better, but they won’t get there if you don’t notice what they need first.
Tools for getting the best from your staff
When it comes to enabling your team to their best, there’s three things that immediately pop into my head.
- The directions and instruction they need to get the job done. This is where your leadership matters. Steering your team along the right path, but knowing when to back off and let them shine. Trust is a huge factor here too.
- The physical resources that they need to perform their role well. For example, something as simple as crayons or curriculum sheets, or perhaps iPads for recording observations and notes, or play equipment.
- The soul – how you relate to your teams. Build a reciprocal and valuable relationship with staff.
This third point matters a lot. Because the way we deliver criticism is important. This in itself is a really useful tool. And just like any tool from your garage, you need to utilize it in a way that will get the job done well!
So, when you’re offering a critique, do it in a useful and constructive way so that they can learn from their mistakes. For example, I would point out something they’ve done well first, before highlighting something that needs work. And then cushion the blow with another positive. So you’ve given them a learning point but haven’t totally demoralized them in the process.
You want them to come away from your correction feeling like they understand the point you’re making. It’s all about encouraging and making learning a positive experience – just like we do with the kids, right?! Staff should be able to receive your critique and feel empowered to move forward, not like they should pack up their things and leave.
Finally, by knowing your staff really well, you can really support them in their journey to becoming the rock stars they’re destined to be in your childcare business! And a rock star team = customers who rave about your business! And that’s what we’re all aiming for, right?! When you know thy staff, you can grow your business into the successful vision you know it can be.
I hope you’ve found this blog super helpful. If you have, share it with a friend!
Also, if you liked this, I wonder whether you’ve found the Childcare Ninja Facebook group yet? 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! Interested in becoming a part of the community? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!
When it comes to leadership in your childcare business, it’s really important that you let your team see you leading through service. You’re not just a body in an office, sending them instructions, you’re a human being who cares and wants their team to feel that.
But what does this sort of leadership really look like?
As someone who’s been leading like this for a long time, I wanted to share with you some ideas – about developing your leadership and building your team – that have worked well for me. So read on if you want to help your staff be the best they can be, while also growing your childcare business into the successful, profitable enterprise it deserves to be.
Let’s get started…
Serving your team through leadership
The idea behind this style of leadership is that by serving your team, you’re demonstrating that you care. You’re helping them become the most efficient and effective members of the crew, and that benefits everyone. They want to see you leading in an inclusive and honest way. So give them what they want! Set up systems that welcome their ideas and contributions.
As a leader in the community, don’t pull up the ladder on your way up, pull your team up with you as you grow. Show them that they too can be leaders.
I’m not talking about the displays (y’all know that is important!) because today’s focus is on leadership. But part of this is creating an environment where everyone who works there feels valued, seen and cared for. They want to feel supported by you and their colleagues. Be a role model. If you’re having a hard time, share your struggles (I mean, don’t over share, right?!) so they can watch and learn how to be resilient and handle challenges with grace as I’m sure you do by now.
In my childcare businesses, I’m proud of the fact that my team are pretty much part of my family. We spend so much time together that we support each other through thick and thin. When we have issues, we talk it out instead of muttering under our breath or getting frustrated bottling it all up. All of this is leadership.
Be there for them
A bit like the song in F.R.I.E.N.D.S., demonstrate that you’re always there to support your team. Make sure your communication is tight, so they know if they’ve got a problem, they can come straight to you. There’s nothing worse than when a member of the team doesn’t feel they can ask a question or bring up something that has happened. It brews resentment from both sides. And that’s not good for business.
You want the team to rally round you and your business, so rally round them. Build their loyalty and trust. Talk to them openly about your expectations, and be clear with your boundaries. And don’t be afraid to be human with them. It shows strength in your leadership.
This is a great opportunity for you to show that you respect and value your team. Put an end to meetings for meetings sake. There’s really no need. Fitting in whole team meetings is so tough when you’ve got multiple shift patterns to negotiate. Often the only day that suits some is a Saturday (unless, like me, your business is 24/7…) and that’s a lot to ask your employees, to give up their free time to come into work and sit through a meeting, only to have to go home again.
So why not move them online? We have the technology! Let’s make the most of it! Moving your staff meetings to Zoom or Teams or another platform allows you to conduct meetings and give some flexibility and freedom to your team. By demonstrating courtesy and showing them understanding in your leadership, you’ll build trust. Let them join from wherever they happen to be – comfort of their own home, a cafe, a resources room at the library.
Another plus of online meetings is that you can record them. So if a team member can’t make it – not only do you have a record of who attended – they can catch up on what they missed and your team have the opportunity to re-watch if they want to. Recordings also double up as evidence to show inspectors or any other interested bodies that you have great communication with your staff.
Obviously when it comes to staff training, wherever you are in the world, there’ll be some mandatory guidance around training or qualifications for your staff. Those are not what I’m addressing here, what I want to highlight is that technology has given us another gem for staff training. All of our childcare settings have different specifications and as business owners we want things a certain way.
We often spend a long time figuring out how we’re going to to train up new staff, give them a tour of the day care center, an induction training of what you expect and so on…it can be arduous. But it doesn’t have to be. One of the ways I’ve saved time and energy is by creating welcome training videos set for new team members. I can then use these until they need updating with every person who joins us.
In practical terms, this is essentially me giving the new member a guided tour via video. I’m showing them where things are kept, how displays work, what belongs in each room, checks they need to do each day, and how certain things work. It can be as comprehensive as you like, but this sends a clear message to new staff: she means business.
Create an environment that helps your team thrive.
They’ll become more efficient, effective and they’ll see you role modelling excellent leadership by caring for them. As such, you’ll notice them growing more loyal and that’s how you’ll grow a successful business. They’ll be invested in their future, knowing that you’ve got their backs, so long as they’ve got yours too.
Hopefully some of these will resonate with you and you’ll be nodding along! Was there anything I missed in terms of leadership? Let me know! I’m always learning, even after this long in the game!
If you want to read more about stepping into being the boss, you can read this blog. Or join us over in the Childcare Ninja Facebook group, come and say hi! We’d love to welcome you into the space and find out how you’re getting on.
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! If you’re interested in becoming a part of the community, join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!
Investing in yourself has never been easier, in terms of choice. There’s so many ideas and options floating around the internet, and your inbox is full of people professing to know what a good investment for you will look like.
You want to up-level and reach your goals, but you’re not really sure how to get there.
Well I can tell you, after years of not investing in myself, I only started to see huge growth in my business when I began to see myself as worth the investment.
Putting yourself first
When you put yourself first, you increasingly have more energy to be more productive in your work and you’re more motivated to grow your business. And because you’ve invested in yourself, you’ll find that you’re able to add more value to others. Unlike many other investments you could make – the stock market, real estate, horses – investing in YOU is never a risk, because there’s always a benefit.
People start to notice you
Nely Galán, the author of “Self Made“, describes how, when you choose yourself, “people will notice you, and they will choose you over and over again.” You put an end to passively waiting for things to happen to you, taking a lead and investing in yourself, so you take action and begin to move closer to being the you you’ve always dreamed of.
Here are some ways you could be investing in yourself:
- Improving your health and wellness – by looking after yourself you’re protecting your future.
- Booking a workshop or course – professional development and adding to your skills is vital!
- Watch, listen and read – Women who read, lead – am I right!?
- Attend networking events – surround yourself with other phenomenal women aiming high.
- Hire a business coach – this is a biggy and is a key one for leveling up!
- Prioritize self-care and breaks to increase productivity – you certainly can’t pour from an empty cup.
All of these are opportunities to invest in YOU. Set yourself a challenge to do a few of these each quarter and watch how much progress you make! I know that you’ll be amazed.
Getting into the right mindset
By investing in any of the above list, you’re getting into a childcare business owner mindset. You’re prioritizing yourself and showing leadership. All of the examples are going to demonstrate to your team that this is the way things should be. That when you lead it isn’t all about being at your desk 24/7 and neglecting your well-being. Nor is it about spending your days swanning around the mall with the Amex. Role modelling these to your staff and your family is true leadership.
And once you start investing in your self, it’s like you’re saying to the universe that you’re ready for success. It shows that you’re getting into the mindset for being a childcare business owner.
Investing in your future
I’ve got a Masterclass coming up where I will be covering the 5 foundations I recommend for making childcare ownership simple. After years of experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that owning a childcare business consists of 5 main steps. These steps can be broken down very simply so you’re not overwhelmed in your journey to successful and simple childcare ownership. And although they’re all of equal importance, some of these are overlooked!
In a nutshell, the 5 Foundations for Simple Childcare Ownership are:
- System Building
- Legacy Creation
And these are the simple steps I’ve noticed in my thirteen plus years of being a childcare boss! And when you start investing in yourself and in professional development like this, you’re beginning to think like a successful Childcare Boss.
I would love to see you in the Masterclass! If you have any questions don’t forget that I’m always in the Facebook group and if you haven’t already joined here’s the link The Childcare Ninja Members Group.
When it comes to putting passion into action, I’ve often found childcare business owners don’t do this enough. Yes, of course you’re passionate about your families and the care of the children, but what else lights you up?
Let me tell you a story about why it’s important that we don’t put all our eggs in one basket. And why we should look at our passions when we diversify our incomes.
It was all going so well
Back in the days – about 13 years ago – when I was running my childcare solely from my home, I had no other form of business. I ran my daycare, I looked after my own family. That was that. All was going really well – the children in my care were thriving and their parents were appreciative and kind.
Suddenly the rug was pulled from under my feet. The government had major budget issues. They froze childcare payments to those who needed them. Families in my daycare relied on that so they could send their children to me, in order to go to work. Government subsidies was where a significant amount of my income was coming from. And when they froze the payments, I found myself with less than I needed coming in.
I was facing three months with no pay outs from the government to cover those families. I didn’t know what I was going to do. Around me I could see other childcare businesses shutting down, but I was sure as hell not going to be one of them.
Searching my passion
I needed an additional source of income – STAT. Thinking about all my skills and passions, I began to search for ideas I could implement to supplement the gaping hole in my finances. It needed something that wasn’t dependent on the government or my daycare parents.
There were a couple of events and weddings I went to around this time, and I noticed that there were parents struggling – understandably! – to keep kids quiet and that those babies were bored outta their minds. A light bulb moment occurred!
I could put my passion into action! Soon after the idea came to me, I set up my very own Events and Weddings Childcare Service. I began offering babysitters on and off site for both the organizers of the events and to those attending. All this was in addition to my home childcare. I was serving other families, and it wasn’t focused on those at work so I didn’t need to worry about subsidies.
Where does your passion lie?
What are you passionate about? Is there something you’ve always wanted to experiment with, but you weren’t sure how to incorporate it into your life? Perhaps you pushed it aside to focus on your childcare business.
Well, I want you to learn from my mistakes. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Use your passion to diversify your income. We love what we do but I’ve been taught the importance of speculation! Figuring out a way of getting income from alternative sources is key!
Look at the hobbies and skills you’re excited about. Are you a talented musician? You could be offering musical sessions in your daycare or using the network of parents in your childcare business to spread the work about piano lessons. Or maybe you could play at events and ask parents to tell their friends. Minimize the work by implementing through your business.
Perhaps you’re an artist or amazing craft maker who could offer extra sessions in the daycare, or sessions at the weekend or after school to bored kids or in the evenings to folks who want to learn from your skills. If you’re into something pretty, these are highly sought after for things like bachelorette parties.
Put your passion into action
This isn’t the time to be humble. If you have a skill – outside of being a childcare ninja that is – use it! Whatever it is, it’s necessary to diversify your income streams to protect yourself and your childcare business.
By taking something you enjoy doing in your free time and creating a cash flow from it, you’re putting your passion into action. This sounds exhausting, but it needn’t be. Ensure you utilize word of mouth, making the most of the networks you have available, i.e., your parents!
And I implore you to do it now. There are unstable times upon us and you have a duty to yourself and your family to do what you can to look at other income streams.
Growth and Legacy
This is also an opportunity to think about growth – do you always want to run a childcare business? Or can you see yourself doing different things after you’ve sold it or moved on? Your passion project and side hustle could then become your main source of income instead of just a back up.
And what about the vision for your legacy? What does that look like for you? I like to say that your childcare business can be the catalyst to growing an amazing life, but it doesn’t have to be the only thing. It can be the start of amazing things.
And I see a bright future in you! There’ll be no stopping you once you put your mind to it. Trust me, I’m a ninja!
I hope you found this blog helpful to think about your future. If you enjoyed reading this, and would like to see more like this and chat with other childcare business owners, I wonder whether you’d like to head over here: Childcare Ninja Facebook group! Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be!
While you’re here, are you in the Childcare Ninja membership yet? 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! It’s full of exclusive resources and support to help you grow your Childcare Business.
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!