Jump to content
About Us

Motivating Staff


Recommended Posts

I have four areas within my nursery and currently one of the areas (1 - 2 year olds) is becoming a real problem :o

There are four members of staff within this room (all qualified), one of them is fantastic, she has only just started and from what i can see perfect in every way! She has a thorough understanding of what her job entails, she interacts with the children at all times providing a secure and entrertaining day.


Onto the others..... from what i can see they lack motivation, enthusiasm, knowledge of childcare and anything which means they break out into a sweat!

Myself and the deputy arranged planning meetings so they could contribute but they only came back with 'cars and garage', 'dolls and dolls house' so we have revamped their planning using the little baby books, each card contains

the activity, resources needed, what the children are learning and how to assess the childs development.

We have written routines, timetables, rotas, checklists...... anything which we felt may enhance their performance, but they will follow them for a couple of days and then completley forget about them, it seems the more we do for them the less they perform.


After talking to the staff they feel they are doing a good job and feel they really enjoy their career, we have expressed that we expect a higher standard but it appears to fall on deaf ears.

Does anyone have any advice on where to start with these staff before my deputy becomes completley disheartened and leaves.

I would like to just sack them and start again but unfortunatley that doesn't go down well with employment law.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i had the same problem with two of my staff..... and the problem is if you dont sort it your new member is likely to become the same.


We did appraisals and talked to our two individually because as you said talking to them as a group only fell on deaf ears.


Explain to them all thier good points (everyone has some if you look hard enough :D 0 and then explain what you expect from them and give them a plan to work towards.


Tell them you will be reviewing it in a month then two then 3 for as long as it takes for them to improve.


it worked with one of our staff the other ended up with a verbal and then written warning..... i have to say bless her she is still with us but still has her moments......... but at the end of the day we have to realise that we are all human and some of our strong/weak points are different to each other so to a point we have to live with it.


I was always told as a leader do as you would like to see your staff do..never have i forgot that.


Good luck if you say that they that they really enjoy thier career there is hope. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My friend who earlier this year took on the management of a nursery, was having the same problems (actually still is). She arranged with me to bring one of the staff to our playgroup for a morning. At the end she asked the girl what she had noticed, and her answer, 'they talk to the children'. 'Exactly' was my friends reply. Apparently she's not the worst one, but like you say 'employment law'!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Hali and Rea


Thanks so much for your replies, although depressing to know there are other childcare staff performing below standard xD ......... it's nice to know i am not alone! :):)


We have drawn up target plans for the staff today to begin using next week and have also booked visits in other areas of the nursery as well as local settings to give the staff an insight into 'good practice'.


If anyone else has any advice i am all ears!! :o



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Lucy -

It sounds like you're doing a lot of the right things, including trying to identify and explain where you think their performance differs from your expectations! :)


I don't know if you've come across our article on Personal Development Planning (PDP)? If not, it's here and might be worth a quick read - mainly because it includes some example forms for recording the regular discussions between staff and management - something that always makes tracking progress (or lack of it) easier.


It's also worth remembering that if people have been behaving in one way for a time, and you decide it's necessary to try to get them to change the way they perform, it can take time and patience to 'turn the ship around'. Expecting immediate results can cause some frustration on both sides. The idea of recording some agreed changes in performance, then re-visiting the documentation at some stage in the future (two months, six months or whatever), and discussing whether the changes have been implemented and kept to, is obviously going to take at least that interval to carry out. And probably longer.


Good luck with it. It's never the easiest role of management! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is 2 months positive and patient?? And having a parent withdraw a child because of an unknown multiple biting incident????


Despite my best efforts, lead by example, pointing out lapses in practice, suppotive approach and positive re-inforcement I am still faced with a staff team that lack motivation and any sort of enthuiasm for the role.


One member has confided in me that my opposite does nothing but belittle any ideas she may have. I have used the positive approach, which I feel is giving rewards. I have been complimented on my style of leadership "whatever has happened and whtever you have to pull us up on, you can always come in and find a positive spin to the department!"


I have tried to speak to my opposite, who is very stuck in her ways, her word is law, and if I try to make any changes to staff rotas to ensure fairness to all she tells me to change things back they will do as she says!!!


How can I work with someone so domineering????

I have spoken to my line manager but as she uses my opposite as the nursery "snitch" I feel that I am out on a limb here!!!!!


Some promotion eh!!!!! Needless to say I don't intend to stay much longer, just waiting for an opportunity to present itself!!!!!!!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

So i'm not allone. after all. I found it really hard to motovate my nursery staff who had managed to get rid of teh 1st teacehr in nursery- after months of snitchig, whisper campagn and rudenss. My nursery assistant actually made herself the teacehr (with the suppirt of the school management) AND COMPLETLY SIDELINED THE TEACHER WHO LEFT CLOSE TO A BRAKDOWN. It was all hundky dory initially when i joinmed but when i started changing things to make the nursery more chikd focusssed and resisted her attempts to introduce the literacy and numeracy hour, things began to change and ther was this non cooperation, sulking or walking out complaining to staff in main school . Keeping on top of all this was ruing my health and i finally hthought no job was worth this stress. so i've resigned.

My asstant is now posed to take over- with no formal qualifications what so ever- having refused to go on any courses she sees herslef on par wit me.

Well she has managed to get rid of 2 teachers in 3 years. I pity the one who gets the job after me-

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I'm so sorry you've been treated in this way; I can only imagine how frustrating that is :o You are doing the right thing, though; once you've tried everything, there has to come a time when you think of your own wellbeing, and start to look elsewhere to use your talents. Good luck with the search :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...



Oh I am so relieved to find I'm not the only one having problems with staff. I have been getting more depressed over the past weeks wondering if I should leave my setting because one member is making life difficult for all.


She came out of a secretarial office environment in January and started with us. She amazed my previous deputy of 4 years (who left to pursue her PGCE) with the things she did; my previous assistant of 4 years left because she could no longer work with her; and my new deputy (who is wonderful) who has only been in post since September cannot believe what she is doing either. She knows more than I do, does her own thing if she doesn't like what I say and is devious enough to go behind my back to my committee about things to do with the nursery instead of coming to me.


She has been in childcare for 9 months, is inexperienced and unqualified, but knows it all and more. However the fundamental issue of playing with all the children seems to be passing her by. Please help with any ideas that I can use to sort this out, otherwise I can see me leaving and my new deputy.


mobbster xD

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh dear! I'd question all of her decisions (nicely) if she disagrees with something, ask her to expalin why she thinks that, and be ready with regulations etc to point out that actualy this is the reason we cant do that or have to do it this way, but thanks for the suggestion, it shows your begining to think about the provision we're offering the children. Smother her with kindness (obviously pillows are out of the question!) Good luck :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, don't really know where to start - what sort of setting are you in?


She needs to understand that we are professionals, with standards to maintain and reach! Easy for me to say, I know, but that's the bottom line here! I had a volunteer some time ago who sounds like this. We parted company, because I suggested she wasn't qualified to hold parent's evenings, and was not receptive to the NVQ I suggested.


Whatever you decide to do, it won't be easy, good luck, and remember, we're all here to provide a safety net!!


Sue :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for the ideas. I think things are going to come to a head this week somehow, but I will certainly try some of your ideas Rea (and won't go for the pillow). My setting is an indepenent pre school situated on a school site, so I have to deal with parental committee who really don't understand, or have to confidence and ability sometimes to deal with things like this.


I will certainly be getting over to her that we are all profesionals, and as yet she is an unqualified one, so should take all the help, guidance and advice she can.


Here goes for tomorrow.


mobbsters :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good luck Mobbsters :D


Since starting this topic i have been amazed at how the staff i was having problems with have changed.


I began by undertaking daily 15 minute observations on them and feeding back my findings at the end of each day. (I used the NDNA Quality Counts manual as a guide for these).

The scoring system is 1 - 5.

5 = saw this behavoiur throughout the observation

1 = never saw this behaviour throughout the observation.

They are marked in 16 diff areas i.e interaction with children, behaviour management, allowing children independance etc.


I gave each member of staff a copy of the scoring sheet i would use so they knew what i was looking at. For the first week each member of staff scored 1 in all 16 areas, of course they were upset but it gave a fantastic opportunity for me to show them how their behaviour was 'bad practice', now three weeks later i don't like to speak to soon but there is a definate improvement, the children are happier and are engaging more in the improved activities that are being planned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Any chance of listing the 16 areas/criteria, I would really find them useful, others may also be able to add their criteria then we could produce a really comprehensive job description :( It is a good idea and obviously is improving practice and the staffs self esteem as their scores get higher for positive interactions etc.


Two of my main ones for improving is for staff to "go down to child level and use eye contact" and "not to call across the room". Just yesterday one of my staff called out to a boy " STOP SHOUTING, .....(name) IT'S GETTING TOO NOISY IN HERE". I walked over to her and whispered "I wonder why" :o


I once did a tracking observation showing the movement of staff and children over a 10 minute period. I used red biro for staff and blue for children.


The result was very visual and showed the staff that when they were sitting the children did and when the staff started moving around the children did. The lines all over the page of children and staff movements became worse than spaghetti junction xD

The visual image showed chaos and when shown to staff reminded them how as a team they affect the mood of the room through their movements and interactions.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Lucy -

Thanks for the thought. If it's proprietary NDNA material and not made available free, then it's almost certainly copyrighted and we can't reproduce it on the Forum.


There are some materials that, for example, Local Authorities make available in training sessions where no copyright is claimed and that's fine - they have usually reproduced this from other non-copyrighted sources.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good point re: copyright. So lets make up our own criteria list shall we.....

I'll start.......... off the top of my head......... linked to PSE Aspect 1,


Disposition and attitude of staff:


Show curiosity about all the childrens thought processes, and actions.

Have a strong exploratory impulse to find out all you can about each of your key children

Have a positive approach to how children respond to you and the environment. Have a positive approach to new work experiences, including changes

Show increasing independence in organising and carrying out your duties

Show confidence in linking up with your team/work mates for support and guidance

Display high levels of involvement with the children, when appropriatte

Persist for extended periods of time at tasks that you have chosen and tasks that have been delegated to you.

Take risks, have fun and explore different teaching methods, activity presentations and ways to communicate with everyone.



Continue to be interested, excited and motivated to teach

Be confident to try new methods, initiate ideas, and communicate with all children, team members and parents.

Maintain attention, concentrate, and sit quietly with children at play or when appropriatte ( ie: when someone else is reading the story to the group :o )


any more ideas?????



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)