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Advise Needed On All Things 'nursery'


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HI all,

 

this may get long. i would really appreciate the advice / experience of the more experienced members here.

 

bit of background, i manage a 53 place day nursery, have done for two and a half years now. longest member of staff has been there 8 years, shortest is 4 months, and most others averaging 4 plus years... so not a bad staff record. ofsted last year was good, although near to outstanding. (believe me we would not be here at present and it sadness me!)

 

I have had one week off work on my lovely hols. prior to leaving for hols i was very dispondant with regards to my own manager (owner of nursery) i had a chat with her before hols and we will see how this unfolds. however in my own tangle of feelings i feel i have lost sight of some of the overall issues in the nursery.

 

being away has given me time to think and also from talking with another staff member (as a friend and not as staff if that makes sense) there is lots to deal with. will list...

 

whilst i have been away:-

 

my deputy felt fit to have some children playing in the hall whilst other children were sleeping

 

my senior nursery officer commented to other staff that she could not be bothered to make beans on toast for the children's snack tea so they could have something else instead.

 

despite all staff being told that i expect all children to be offered milk at breakfast and snacks, my deputy has been heard to say "we are not bothering it is too much of a fafh" so has not been offering it.

 

two members of staff that work together are by all accounts ready to kill each other. (i have spoken with both these staff seperatly about there working relationship.) i am now thinking i need to talk with them together, what do you think? (they don't communicate together well).

 

one member of staff has an ultimate jaquel and hyde personallity and changes mood frequently, leaving others unaware of where they stand with her and my friend today told me that this staff member was heard shouting with rage in her voice at a one year old child. my friend is telling me this 'officially' on monday, so it will be logged and discussed with person concerned... where would you go with that one?, warning?, or just discussion.

 

team work does not happen.... any tips on gelling my team really appreciated.....

 

some staff feel unmotivated and like the only things that are being picked on are negative.. This was commented on when i was away and was linked to an action made by another staff member.. (plus points are always commented on in nursery, so i am not sure where the feeling of only negatives being picked up upon have come from.. but nethertheless at least one member of staff feels this, so i need to deal with it, any pointers.

 

my deputy is not working with me, despite me asking her too. however she only ever works against me behind my back and i have no 'evidence' if you like of this, other than feedback from some staff.

 

my other deputy (i have two that have a job share) and my senior do not work well together... i feel like none of the senior team is helping me help the staff achieve the aims of nursery and provide good quality care.

 

so questions.....

 

how do you manage sleep time when some children wake early (we do not have seperate sleep room, and obviously children can not be sent to play in the hall)

 

how do you motivate your team.... what can i do with mine please

 

how do you deal with bitchiness, and lack of communication?

 

I am thinking of shadowing each of my deputies for a period of time, and my senior to see them working in their role and help pick up areas for development... how long would you reccomend me to shadow each of them for?.... my only 'concern' is that they will 'act' how they think i want them to act just for my benefit,

 

we are having a staff meeting thursday, i need to address some issues. but primarily want to focus on motivating them all and teamwork. please let me know what i could try, i.e team work activities etc......we have star of the month and this works short term,. but i want commitment and enthusiasm from the team and right now out of fifteen staff the only committed and enthusastic ones number about four staff.....

 

help please.....

 

Dawn....

 

p.s despite all this nursery is nice (just realised my account makes the nursery sound rubbish) the care is faltless, it is mainy staff i have issues with.

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anyone shouting at the children needs a formal written warning that if it happens again, they will lose their job.

The two who are at loggerheads need to be told to get their acts together, or get out, you will not tolerate infantile behaviour in the setting and if there is one more incident, each will receive a written warning;

staff who 'can't be bothered' to stick to agreed routines for feeding the children shouldn't be working there either, and again, i'd be giving them warnings, even if only informally, taht it won't be tolerated;

 

children who are awake while others need to sleep can be taken out to play(assuming adequate staff ratios), or given quieter games, puzzles, sticking, stories.

 

I'd call a full staff meeting where you can get all these points across and give a (virtual) kick up the bum to all those who need it.tell them you are proud of the Ofsted inspection results from last time, but you want to strive for excellence,which means everyone pulling together and in the same direction,with the same goals.laziness leads to a drop in standards, which then leads to neglect and possible injuries,illness etc and you can't have that.Ask them if they share those ideals with you, and if not, what do they see as a way forward from where you are now??

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l have the same problem with my DM, gave her loads of informal warnings, behaves for about 2 weeks then back to form again. l have a disciplinary hearing with her on Friday, behaviour has changed a bit, but hearing is still going ahead. she does not take instructions and no clear boundaries with other staff. We have Ofsted next year, it is important to have DM you can rely and have confidence in. Will let you know how meeting goes on friday. :o

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Hi Dawn

 

I really feel for you, i have encountered or am encountering all the situations you mention!

 

As the nursery owner, i have all of these types of problems passed to me, so well done for dealing with them yourself, something my senior staff team either dont have the confidence or capability to do!

 

I will try and answer your questions as best as i can, however, i am not suggesting it should be the way for you to deal with them, just my opinions!

 

how do you manage sleep time when some children wake early (we do not have seperate sleep room, and obviously children can not be sent to play in the hall)

We managed this by putting up a curtain rail in the corner of the room, so drew the curtains just during sleep time so awake children could continue with quieter activities in the same room. Is this an option for you?

 

how do you motivate your team.... what can i do with mine please

I have been asking myself this for the past 7 years! The best ways i have found is employee of the month(we give a scratch card to the winner), general praise as i walk around the nursery, regular one to one meetings. Sometimes it can be quite hard to find something positive to say and sometimes i feel like i just don't want to praise certain members of staff, but if i look hard enough there is normally one thing!

 

how do you deal with bitchiness, and lack of communication?

This has always been a continual problem for me, i have changed staff's working areas / partners frequently and have recently found that having each team made up from different age ranges has helped alot, although with 28 women working together it is a constant headache for me!

 

I am thinking of shadowing each of my deputies for a period of time, and my senior to see them working in their role and help pick up areas for development... how long would you reccomend me to shadow each of them for?.... my only 'concern' is that they will 'act' how they think i want them to act just for my benefit,

This works well for me, i dont announce that i will be shadowing, i literally take some time out from the paperwork and spend a bit of time with them, hopefully showing good practice and providing a good role model, which they do pick up on and copy my lead, this needs to happen frequently for them to stick at it.

 

my senior nursery officer commented to other staff that she could not be bothered to make beans on toast for the children's snack tea so they could have something else instead.

 

despite all staff being told that i expect all children to be offered milk at breakfast and snacks, my deputy has been heard to say "we are not bothering it is too much of a fafh" so has not been offering it.

 

two members of staff that work together are by all accounts ready to kill each other. (i have spoken with both these staff seperatly about there working relationship.) i am now thinking i need to talk with them together, what do you think? (they don't communicate together well).

 

one member of staff has an ultimate jaquel and hyde personallity and changes mood frequently, leaving others unaware of where they stand with her and my friend today told me that this staff member was heard shouting with rage in her voice at a one year old child. my friend is telling me this 'officially' on monday, so it will be logged and discussed with person concerned... where would you go with that one?, warning?, or just discussion.

 

All of the above would receive a formal written warning from me, there are no excuses for staff to not fulfill their job description.

 

Hope some of that was helpful!!

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Thanks for advice everyone.

 

Lucy, some great advice.

 

A verbal warning was given to the two staff that do not work well together at all. the meeting/discussion cleared the air lots.

 

did not get to speak to the staff member about her attitude regarding tea, since she is on annual leave will chat with her when she is back.

 

sleep time ~ no option of a curtain but the issue has been tackled and now provision is made for non sleeping children, although i am sure i will need to monitor the standard of this provision at sleep time. :o

 

Have spoken with both deputies and explained more what i want from them.

 

the biggest change i think at the moment is that i am having to accept that in some respects office and paper work may have to wait whilst i get a handle on all the rooms and the way they are working. i need to be 100% sure good practice is happening all round and in order to do that i think i need to be in the rooms for a while.

 

Dawn

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Hi Dawn

Hope things are a little better for you there is nothing harder that your staff working against you when all you reslly want to achieve is a positive and happy environment for everyone at the nursery

 

We have children from 3 rooms sleeping so we have 1 sleep room and 1 room for none sleepers as children wake up we use the third room.

 

Motivating staff is difficult at times i do it by making sure i praise the little things they do we also go out socially we go to a lot of gigs or for a meal and giving them a voice everything that is implemented within the nursery is run by the staff first so they can add their views the staff know i will uphold the rights for our children and their parents to recieve good quality childcare but they also know the have a say in shaping and bettering our provision we are all equal we just do different things that fit together like pieces of a puzzle and each is important in completing that puzzle

 

shouting at the children is not acceptable in any way and i would outline this to the member of staff and if it happens again disapline them

jojom

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Dawn,

 

I know that the relationships with senior members of staff has been a constant problem for you. To me this is the area you need to work on immediately and with great gusto! Make it clear to your senior team what your expectations are - be firm and authoritative, speaking confidently and knowledgeably (good preparation is the key to this). Stress to them what key roles they play and ask them for help to improve standards across the board. The more time you spend with them, thrashing out ideas and communicating, the less likely they are to work against you behind your back. If there are issues then get them out in the open (I'm not talking about angry recriminations though!) but then make sure that they understand that a line is to be drawn under these issues and everyone must move on. Once they feel they have a crucial role to play, hopefully they will feel more self motivated and positive about their jobs.

 

In terms of general staff morale and motivation, again you really need everyone working as a team. Give them ownership of certain areas where they can demonstrate their abilities and have a chance to feel pride in their work. Lucy's suggestion of mixing everyone up is a very good one. What you can't afford is for groups to form within the nursery as this will then lead to negativity. Everyone needs to be part of the same group working together!

 

I know that your friend may mean well but to be honest I don't think she is doing you any favours. The other staff members may begin to feel 'spied upon' and this will only increase hostility and cause further divisions. Accept the fact that the most senior member of staff is not always the most popular and people will complain about some things behind your back. This is part of life and goes with the job description. Also accept the fact that with the best will in the world sometimes, people will 'slack off' when they think no one is looking - it is human nature. The best way of ensuring that staff are carrying out policies and procedures is through good training - once someone has a full understanding of why you do something they are more likely to take it on board and carry it out without question. Look carefully at the training and skills your staff have and identify who may need refresher courses or further training. Also use those staff members who already have the knowledge to mentor those that don't.

 

Good luck. :o

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when I first read your post I had to smile and thought Gosh you need to come and work at my nursery for just one day and you will probably see every single issue that you listed :o

I run a 120plc nursery with 40 staff so you can imagine!!! as with you they are all long serving so I must be doing something right xD

We have all felt how you are feeling at some point and it is ALWAYS worse when you have been off. One thing I always remind myself is that each member of staff has just you as the "BAD GUY" so has only one person to moan about. You on the other hand have all 15 staff members to worry about and people dont realise how much it buildsup. You'll feel better soon I'm sure xx

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