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Difficult Staff Member


Nimatel
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I don't really know where to start with this one! Buti'm going to make an attempt. I am a leader of a small pre school setting. I have a deputy and one other key worker who work with me on a permanent basis, as well as variuos other casual and volunteer staff.

 

My issue is with my permanent key worker, who does her job and only her job. That's fair enough i hear you say, but we all know that we don't work in an environment in which this really works for anyone.

 

There has been variuos issues harping back to my previuos deputy who rather than support me used her position to stir up trouble between myself and this member of staff. I take some blame for this, but i was voicing my concerns to somone as my deputy i felt could be a sounding board and another pair of eyes and how would eb able to give me here views. She abused this and therfore both i and this member of staff feel burnt.

 

My new deputy is amazing and works in a very similar way to myself, we share workload and run the room well. However i still feel this member of stafc isn't performing as she should and i need very soon to do an appraisal. She works well with her key children, although on a down side she is almost stuck to them taking them off to do things not initiated by them, spend hours doing their learning journeys and always complains that she doen't get enough time to do them even though she is the only one who gets regular time out to do so. She has responsibiltiy for health and safety within the setting which inculdes a daily risk assesment and on two occasions recently she has not done it properly as things have been found during the session that she should have checked.

 

It all came to a head last week where i confronted her about her attitude that morning whilst a parent was visiting (she had a face like thuinder all morning due to issues at home), she listened to what i had to say with only mono sylabic responses and when i'd left called another staff member in bursting itno tears claiming she felt like a "punch bag!" On going in to find out what was happening i was greeted by an onslaught of accusations, i didn't appreciate her work, she could do nothing right, she was sick of being everyone's punchbag!

 

This week she's upset my deputy my inflicting her personal opinion on her about her aprentling style.

 

She is a very confrontational lady and i now find myslef almost scraed to deal with issues as they arise.

 

Any ideas on how to deal with this one. I don't feel like she is treating me like a leader and i do understand that it is a difficult situation in such a small setting where we are working in the same way for the majority of the time but i don't think she should be speaking to either meself or my deputy in this way. I want to do the right thing by everybody as i feel if this goes really wromd she could try and take it further.

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Gosh, so many issues to try to unpick! :o

 

My main advice to you would be to sit down and think very carefully about what the issues are exactly and treat them separately. Typing them out here was a good start! That way you can make sure you're dealing with them in an appropriate manner.

 

Your first issue seems to be more of a feeling that this lady isn't pulling her weight in the setting generally. I know it can be tough working in childcare, and in a small preschool there is so much to do. I too worked many hours unpaid and if everyone does their bit what can be overwhelming for one is manageable with a few. However, as the Playleader of the setting I never expected any of my staff to do more than they were paid to do. If they did take on extra responsibilities I was grateful, but I didn't hold it against them if they chose not to. I don't know what you and your staff are paid, but for my setting most were paid minimum wage and most of us had families to care for. You don't say if the setting is private or committee run. Is there anyone else who could share the workload, so that it is more manageable for you? Any way of earning/raising more money to pay for extra hours worked?

 

In terms of the key worker role, perhaps you need to have a meeting to discuss exactly what the role entails. Has she had up to date training in planning, observation and assessment? Could you arrange a short training session amongst yourselves to look at your learning journeys - how they should be filled in and updated, how to do this effectively and efficiently. Make sure this lady knows that you are aware of the time she spends and are trying to help her by making this process less onerous for her.

 

For the daily risk assessment, do you have some sort of tick list that needs to be filled in before each session? It is easy to forget something if time is limited and there is a lot to do before the session starts. In my setting the daily risk assessment was a shared responsibility - this ensured that even if one person had a 'forgetful' moment, others were also double or triple checking! The checklist we had was on a laminated sheet which was easily visible - you could tell at a glance what had and what hadn't been done.

 

You say you 'confronted' her about her attitude - can you reflect upon this incident and think about how you stood, what tone of voice you had, what language you used? Were you perhaps harsher than you intended to be? Did you unwittingly come across as negative and judgmental? If issues and resentments against her are building up inside you, this may influence how and what you say without you realising. I find its always useful to go back over any incident such as this and think about how I would feel if our places were swapped. When I was training to be an assessor, giving feedback - particularly negative feedback - was a huge part of what we had to learn. Have you heard of the feedback sandwich? Always start on a positive note (find something good to say about the session!), then give the feedback but try to do so in a neutral way to soften what you're saying. What you don't want is for the person to become hurt and defensive. Then end on an upbeat tone - praise them again for something they do well. If she is having issues outside the setting try to remain understanding and supportive.

 

Regarding her own confrontational behaviour, the only way to deal with this is calmly and rationally. If she is having a 'rant' then let her finish but don't get drawn into responding. Tell her she is entitled to her opinion, perhaps agree to disagree or, if it is regarding an issue in the setting, tell her that you'll speak to her another day once everyone is feeling a little calmer and have had chance to reflect upon the issue. This will give you time to think about what exactly you want to say and take control of the situation.

 

I'm assuming the conversation she had with the deputy about her parenting style was a private issue, rather than regarding the setting. In this case its really up to your deputy to deal with it. She can either ignore it or take the lady aside and explain how she found what she said upsetting. It is probably better for you not to get involved in this, as otherwise it may seem as though the two of you are 'ganging up' against her.

 

Finally you seem to be having a few jitters about your own leadership. It can be pretty tough to be in charge, particularly when there are issues to be faced. By dealing with situations calmly and rationally you can start to feel you have control. Try not to let situations develop so that you are always left reacting and feeling as if you are on the back foot. If you feel that something might develop into a situation step in immediately to divert or calm things down. Don't let behaviours develop over long periods of time but rather deal with things in a timely fashion before it becomes a much bigger issue than it ought to be.

 

Good luck! xD

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Thanks Carol that was really helpful. You're right i feel totally out of my depth sometimes as this is my first leadership job. As for the lady in question she has had plenty of training on observation etc and i realsie it's something she finds difficult and she does do them very well (I have of course told her this) but this is why she is the one in the setting that always without fail gets time out to do them. Both myself and the deputy do ours in our own time and generally at home!

 

I suppose i don't feel like she is pulling her weight but as far as i'm concerned she is paid a very good wage for her role (£8.50 an hour) any extras are always paid. As you say you should never expect someone to do more than they are being paid for but i do feel as i said that she does just enough and if it's not being paid she doesn't want to do it or makes a fuss. I think as a committee run pre school we are very lucky that we get paid for all our training outside of our normal hours as well as parent consultations home visits etc that we do out side of tyhem too!

 

Our daily risk assesment is as you say a tick sheet but i find she goes into the office where it is kept and just merryily ticks away she doesn't actually physically pick it up and take it around each thing to check that it's ok. A child found a piece of glass in the garden this week and when i looked i found another piece, now that has happened she is going out and looking but it could have been too late. We don't laminate it as then all eveidence of it being done is wiped away and we keep them all in a file so a termly report can be done and Ofsted can see them.

 

She's alwasy been confrontational and has put many people's backs up and i've had several comments about this. I do think you are right and that's just her way it's a defence but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

 

The deputy issue i left the deputy to deal with. The only advice i gave was that she should leave it for now to allow her to cool down and approach her about it later, then backed out.

 

I'm hoping that the more i deal with issues like this the better i will get and i just need to get over the discomfort of approaching her, but i suppose from her view point it may seem like i'm always getting at her. I did when i apporached her say a good thing as well as the not so good thing. I think what annoyed her most is that i said that we had to leave our personal issues at the door rather than letting them drag throughout the working session. I've always told all my staff to talk to me about anything and i'm always the first to comment in the morning if they don't seem themselves which often opens the floodgates and clears the air. I think this lady has many other issues and is being greatly put upon by her famil in particular her 18 and 24 year old children!

 

Thanks for all your advice and i'll let you know how it goes!

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I always hated having to talk to someone about a negative incident when I was Playleader and in the early days I have to admit I sometimes chickened out, rather than face it! It did get a little easier as time went on but it was always my least favourite part of the job. If I had my time again I would definitely go on some sort of 'management' course, particularly one which included dealing with people (whether they be staff or parents). Having training to fall back on is a real confidence booster.

 

It sounds like you're doing a lot to support this lady already. As much as we might like for all our staff to act impeccably and professionally, unfortunately this often isn't the case. As long as you and your deputy continue to do so though, there is a chance that this attitude may start to rub off on her.

 

Do you have appraisals coming up any time soon? Perhaps if she were given the opportunity to state which parts of the job she is struggling with or doesn't like it would be an easy way for you to address some of the issues without her feeling she is being 'got at'.

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Hi, sorry for quick reply, but I am doing a distance learning management course just to help build my confidence too. I find whenever I have worked on a unit, I deal with issues much better. I am hoping by the time I have finished the course, I will have made enough changes to staffing procedures to then carry on dealing with them confidently. I also didn't deal with things sometimes, just hoped they would go away, but now I am being more confident and proactive, I feel I am getting somewhere more long term.

 

Hope that helps, let me know if you are interested in the course, I am sure there are lots out there, am not saying it is the best course in the world, but it helped me with my confidence and CPD

 

Clarex

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Hi, sorry for quick reply, but I am doing a distance learning management course just to help build my confidence too. I find whenever I have worked on a unit, I deal with issues much better. I am hoping by the time I have finished the course, I will have made enough changes to staffing procedures to then carry on dealing with them confidently. I also didn't deal with things sometimes, just hoped they would go away, but now I am being more confident and proactive, I feel I am getting somewhere more long term.

 

Hope that helps, let me know if you are interested in the course, I am sure there are lots out there, am not saying it is the best course in the world, but it helped me with my confidence and CPD

 

Clarex

Hi, I wonder if you could let me know a little about the course please, I could do with gaining more confidence in this area too.

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Hi, I wonder if you could let me know a little about the course please, I could do with gaining more confidence in this area too.

 

Hiya, the link is saved on my laptop which is currently broken, I will do some googling tonight and find it for you, am on husbands MAC and still finding my way around!!

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Hi

 

we just overhauled our learning journey's as well as I think my staff probably were doing too much and were struggling and all felt they didn't have enough time. There were staff who were not confident with them and this meant it took them a long time to complete although they were all of a high standard they just couldn't see it. I have run some internal training on how much to put in what I think it should look like and done some examples with them and they have said they find this useful, also everyone is then producing the same amount (one of my staff felt she didn't want to cut back unless everyone did otherwise she felt her files, children and parents would be cheated compared to others).

 

Also making sure I write everything down, staff meetings are not so informal have proper records of all things discussed and agreed and if someone is struggling action plans that we work on together and sign with dates to do things etc... at least this way she will feel that you are supporting her (or you will at least have the evidence that you are trying to support her) and you may find this opens up a dialogue that helps you get to the bottom of why she is so unhappy. Has she done health and safety training?

 

My role was the first leadership role I had had and to be honest for a while I found it hard not to take things personally, but the truth is they really aren't personal. As leader you will not always make everyone happy but you can be fair and put the children first which is sounds like you are doing. When staff are unhappy it may be nothing you can help with it could be something from home they have to sort out, and some times it might even mean they have to move on essentially all you can do is your best and sometimes if you can have confidence in yourself everyone else suddenly has confidence in you too. I don't think there is anything wrong with saying that it is not ok for her to talk to you badly, as her manager she does need to respect you and you her, maybe if you feel you can a heart to heart about what might be going on for her would be in order. Have you got anyone to support you? (committee??)

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Hi, sorry for quick reply, but I am doing a distance learning management course just to help build my confidence too. I find whenever I have worked on a unit, I deal with issues much better. I am hoping by the time I have finished the course, I will have made enough changes to staffing procedures to then carry on dealing with them confidently. I also didn't deal with things sometimes, just hoped they would go away, but now I am being more confident and proactive, I feel I am getting somewhere more long term.

 

This would be really helpful if you don't mind sharing

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I am doing this one http://www.study-house.org/cartv3/Details.asp?ProductID=9 There are others on there, a level 2 supervisory one for example. The first 2 units made me really think about my role and the preschool as a business, and the things we just do, as projects. They weren't strictly relevant as such, but I still applied lots of principles from them directly to the preschool. If you have done an NVQ or A level, then it really is not a hard course, I have found it refreshingly enjoyable as the focus is not on writing an essay, simply on answering the question. When I put my mind to it, it really doesn't take me longer than an evening to complete the assignment once I have read the unit.

 

HTH

 

Clare

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I am doing this one http://www.study-house.org/cartv3/Details.asp?ProductID=9 There are others on there, a level 2 supervisory one for example. The first 2 units made me really think about my role and the preschool as a business, and the things we just do, as projects. They weren't strictly relevant as such, but I still applied lots of principles from them directly to the preschool. If you have done an NVQ or A level, then it really is not a hard course, I have found it refreshingly enjoyable as the focus is not on writing an essay, simply on answering the question. When I put my mind to it, it really doesn't take me longer than an evening to complete the assignment once I have read the unit.

 

HTH

 

Clare

 

Looks good, thank you for the info.

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Hi not alot to add just wanted to say your not alone with this problem

 

I've got a worker who I have alot of issues with and I've tried all kinds of ways to nurture her and keep the peace with the deputy who cannt stand her so I'm pulling my hair out.

 

What i am doing which i would recommend is keep a diary, so any issues you raise are based on factual evidence and she cannt say you picking on her,

 

I find challenging staff so hard I don't know anyone who would say it's an easy part of the job.

 

Hang in there things normally have a way of working out

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