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Chair/Manager Relationship


C1403
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Hello

 

Brief intro. I am chair of a pre school. Committee run. Charity/Limites by guarantee company. Small setting with manager, deputy and four other part time staff.

 

Our manager (employed by the committee) has worked within the setting over 20 years (when it was first a playgroup) and I have great respect for her and what she knows.

 

As a parent I am not entirely clued up on the EYFS framework but have been looking into it to gain a better understanding.

 

I'm just wondering really what my relationship should be like with the manager, obviously I see her every time I drop my children off and I always ask if all is ok, anything she needs from me. She usually says no all I hand but I'm wondering if we should be more formal?

Should I also be speaking to the staff to check all is ok, I think not as I am a parent too so their line of contact would be the manager first??

 

Our committee meet every six weeks with the manager and staff in attendance so we do meet and discuss any matters. I know she holds monthly staff meetings with the Pre School staff.

 

I guess I just worry that if she doesn't tel me something I could have problems on my hands.

 

How do your similar run settings manage the relationship between chair/committee and manager??

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I can only comment from my experience, I was Manager of a committee run setting and was basically left to run the business - this was my choice and with the agreement of the committee and dealt with all the day to day issues, staff wages, registration, rotas etc etc. I knew the Chair was there if I had any problems and often ran past decisions - mostly about money but didn't have formal scheduled meetings. I attended the committee meetings and kept the committee up to date with the financial status, staffing issues, registration etc. We had an agreed spend limit without authorisation.

It is difficult as ultimately the buck stops with you and not the manager so you need to be happy you can rely on her to be honest with you.

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Your manager should be carrying out regular supervisions on all the staff and if possible a committee representative would attend but at the very least the committee should be completing regular supervisions on the manager.

I would suggest trying to complete an introduction to the EYFS course (these are available online) as well as a good read of the EYFS Statutory requirements.

Try and attend a session every now and again and sit back an observe. Look at the way the children are engaged in play, adult interactions with the children and parents, leadership of staff and how the day runs.

Anything you are unsure of discuss with the manager. The manager should be happy to answer.

Does the manager regularly observe staff practice? does she provide you with an overview of staff supervisions/ training needs?

You can also look at the Ofsted early years inspectors hand book, at the back is the evaluation schedule which outlines things that Ofsted look at to make their grade judgement. Always start with looking at the good judgements.

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Hi we are also trustee/ charity run and one of the things I have recently found is that a chair or committee person should have an awareness or completed a safeguarding course, so that might be something to look in too.

The staff and I run the day to day of the setting, but we have a great working relationship with the committee too.

The chair often comes in to chat to myself and all staff, and is always at the end of the phone. The chair views all completed supervisions by myself and then does mine.

We also hand out a roles and responsibilities trustee welcome pack to all new committee members which clearly defines everything.

Hope this helps.

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Hello

 

Thanks for your replies.

 

Yes the manager does carry out supervisions on the staff, although I haven't asked to see them.

The manger is due their appraisal this month, so something I will need to do. I know communication is sometimes a problem as in she will just get on with things and perhaps not inform me/the committee but I am not concerned too much about her ability to manage the setting.

 

We have had two members of staff resign weeks apart (after working at the setting many many years). Both have said they are simply moving on, although now I am concerned there could be something else now as after all these years they are choosing to leave.

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Hi 1403

 

Are you a member of PSLA, as this sample from one of their publicactions called Charity Essentials might be worth buying. Also found this Role of Chair with a list of what you might need to see.

 

Sample pages of running a preschool.pdf

 

The Role of Chair.docx

 

Are you familiar with the settings policies/procedures esp Safegarding, recruiting/vetting all staff dbs's periodically and Behaviour management? As you and the committee are classed as the 'Employer' there is quite alot of responsibility on knowing how the setting is run, so you are following the legal requirements set out by both the Statutory Frame work and good old Ofsted.

 

Good Luck!

 

 

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I would also ask to see staff meeting minutes if you are not present. We have meeting request forms too for staff. This means they can request a meeting at any point with any manager or, in our case, Director. So, if staff want to talk to you about the manager they can request a private meeting with you, using an agreed channel. Then - you should know if there is an issue with the manager for staff who are thinking of leaving.

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Hi 1403

 

Are you a member of PSLA, as this sample from one of their publicactions called Charity Essentials might be worth buying. Also found this Role of Chair with a list of what you might need to see.

 

attachicon.gifSample pages of running a preschool.pdf

 

attachicon.gifThe Role of Chair.docx

 

Are you familiar with the settings policies/procedures esp Safegarding, recruiting/vetting all staff dbs's periodically and Behaviour management? As you and the committee are classed as the 'Employer' there is quite alot of responsibility on knowing how the setting is run, so you are following the legal requirements set out by both the Statutory Frame work and good old Ofsted.

 

Good Luck!

 

Yes we are a member of the PSLA. I've read all the policies and even drafted some myself.

 

I think my main concern at present is staff and making sure they are able to get their voices heard. The manager has been there donkeys years and it's pretty much her setting, as committees change every few years. I wasn't aware of any potential gripes until now but even then staff aren't coming to us or the manager just between themselves.

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I've seen it from both sides having once been the manager.

 

These days my relationship with staff is as friend as well as anything else.

 

I pop in or text now and then to see if they need anything, but i'm happy to leave them to run the day to day business. They all know their stuff and I have no worries that something wont get done. I also know if anything is amiss they all know they can contact me in confidence if necessary. I aslo go in now and the with an activity I've seen or just because I miss the children. Next week I'm going in with the inserts from chocolate boxes and biscuits and taking weighing scales and chocolate playdough!

 

It helps that I keep up to date as much as possible with the EYFS world and I know they rely on me passing on new ideas and new official stuff.

 

We're lucky we've all worked together over the years and know what each is capable of but we also have 3 committee members who I try to involve as much as possible.

 

I suppose it differs form setting to setting and what relationship you have. As manager my chair was a bit bossy and official, although well meaning she often meddled where meddling wasnt necessary so I try to look objectively at something before commenting on it.

 

If you're new, i'd suggest a get together with each member of staff, find out what they like, what they might like to change maybe. And the manager might have ideas the previous chair didnt agree with that she'd like to run past you. :1b

Edited by Rea
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello

 

Me again.

 

So there IS an issue with the manager and staff. It was bought fully to my attention at an exit interview. Until now nothing has been reported to me just the fact two longstanding members of staff have resigned.

The main issues lie with communication and resources. The manager is not communicating effectively with staff, staff are not able to access resources within the setting (equipment and such) and it appears morale is low.

 

The committee will need to intervene but what steps first?. No complaint has been made except just what has been said at the exit interview (there will be another one next with with another member of staff). I've taken notes from the meeting and they are typed up

 

I intend to buy some of the PLA publications on staff management, charitable settings etc so thanks for suggesting these.

 

As there has been no official complaint I take it it's not quitea grievance? Or is it?

Would you sit down with the manager and explain what has been said and ask their side of the story?

Would all this become part of their appraisal which is due very soon? I don't want to sit down and make it all about what they aren't doing, as the setting is very popular and well known locally. So perhaps the sit down first??

 

Help is always much appreciated.

 

Thank you

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My thoughts on this are: The two staff in question have already decided to leave your employment, so I would be more interested in how any remaining staff are feeling within their roles. Are there already supervisions in place, what do these show if anything. How could the setting and all staff be supported by the committee to enable a positive working environment. Is the Manager finding the workload difficult. Are roles shared out amongst the staff team so everyone feels valued and listened to.

The point about accessing resources. Why is this problematic? Is there ways to make this easier etc.

Sorry lots of questions but without the whole picture it's quite difficult to advise.

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Yes I am definitely concerned about remaining staff. They do have supervisions and appraisals, which I have not seen as always told there is nothing to report (from the manager). I would like to sit down with staff myself but this may upset things with the manager as their point of contact should be through her.....I have sent them meeting request forms as suggested by previous posters, so they at least know they can contact me.

I think we need to sit down with the manager and ask her how she feels. She doesn't seem to delegate or want to delegate. She appears to keep everything to herself and isn't sharing amongst her staff or the committee.

Edited by C1403
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As the chair of the committee ie the employer you are entitled to see them. I think I would be having a friendly chat with the manager and see how to move forward. Our setting does work closely with our committee who are incredibly supportive and the chairperson and other members come in regularly and always go and say hello to all the staff team.

Just to add I have been on both sides as a chairperson on our committee and as a manager for the past 17 years.

Please feel free to pm me if you would like more help.

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I would do your managers supervision asap, you need to hear both sides, she may be the problem but not aware of It or she might just be doing her job and staff have taken umbridge....maybe they don't show respect for resources or are wasteful (my biggest gripe as a manager trying to maintain a healthy budget), maybe they don't take on board what is being shared with them, do they read, sign, return paperwork when asked? maybe not, I've had long standing staff leave over the last few years ....they've just had enough the expectations are huge now to when they started and unfortunately the manager is the 'messenger' :-/

 

You sound like Chair that cares and Is respectful of the managers role which is good, I try and send my chair and treasurer ( sometimes all committee depending on what it is) anything important that they need to be aware of.

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Our LA has training for committee members and they are also entitled to attend some of our management courses, not free unfortunately. Over the past year they have been putting together support in the form of written information (Committee Folder), emails and and committee peer support groups. I believe it is linked to Governor Support Services. I am not sure of the take-up or support for this service. I have been 'encouraging' members of our committee to apply. I'm sure it will become 'use it or lose it!'

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Thanks again. I do care a great deal, my children attend and I fell in love with the place and their ethos, being chair is more work than I thought but I do enjoy most of what I do. I have huge respect for all the staff including the manager as they have worked at the setting many many years so it must be a somewhat happy place. It is very popular with parents.

I will speak to the committee discuss a way forward, firstly speaking with the manager and informing them we need to do their supervision ASAP.

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Are you going to be recruiting to cover the jobs that have become vacant?

If so, perhaps a questionnaire to all remaining members of staff created by committee and to be handed into committee with questions that might give an insight into what's going on eg perhaps asking something along the lines of with 2 members of staff having left this term what 'gaps' should the committee be looking for in prospective employees? - what is the biggest challenge in your job at the moment and how could a new staff member help you?

I did do this when I was committee and it did highlight that actually there was an area that really did need 'looking into' it wasn't anything personnel wise luckily but committee were able to give some funds to enable to make their job slightly easier.

It might not work for you, just suggestions of how to try and get some info without 'rocking the boat' too much!

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Yes we are recruiting for the positions.

 

I have sent alll staff a meeting request form, stating that if they wish to have a chat about anything then myself and the committee are always happy to talk. I did also add this was optional and not a requirement. Their normal point of call is the manager.

So far I've had nothing negative back, just a few things that need doing maintenance wise. Hopefully staff will notice we're trying to help as best we can.

 

I will of course ensure we sit down with the manager to iron out the main areas of concern.

 

Thank you once again for all taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.

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as a new chair could you not have a meeting with each member of staff - just to say you are introducing yourself in your new role and although staff may know you personally you want them to know you are there for them with any problems etc - just a quick catch up asking are they happy etc.,?

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We use SurveyMonkey for committee to set a list of questions about twice per year, all staff are sent the link and as it's optional for it to be anonymous it means staff can feel more empowered to rate honestly as you can ask scaled answers, multiple choice etc. Staff also know the manager does not have access so it's between the employer and employee, it helps build up trust that they know they will be listened too and it can easily be installed as regular practice

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We use SurveyMonkey for committee to set a list of questions about twice per year, all staff are sent the link and as it's optional for it to be anonymous it means staff can feel more empowered to rate honestly as you can ask scaled answers, multiple choice etc. Staff also know the manager does not have access so it's between the employer and employee, it helps build up trust that they know they will be listened too and it can easily be installed as regular practice

That's a great idea - I'd never have thought of that - a really good way of keeping it private! (squirrels idea away in head for future reference)

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  • 1 month later...
  • 4 months later...

Hello Again

It's been a while as things did improve between the manager and staff for a while but relationships appear strained once again.

I really need to get to the bottom of why staff do not speak to the manager with their concerns. They either ignore it and keep working or come to me for things they could bring up with the manager. I always generally refer back to the manager.

 

Just looking for sugestions really to improve communication. Supervisions are carried out (I don't see them and aparantly staff don't mention any problems).

 

Do 'anonomous' surveys work? A previous poster suggested this and perhaps that could be a good idea...or make it worse and they'll being up every minor issue.

 

I've thought about a meeting all together to discuss out any differences but think they would keep quiet and I'm not sure would have the ridge effect.

 

Staff/Committee team building? Have these worked. Any suggestions.

 

Thanks

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I gave my staff (have done it a couple of times and got the idea from someone here) a form to complete

2 stars and a wish.

So they completed it with two things they thought we (as a group) did really well and one thing they would like to change.

Couldnt be personal- so I dont like the way so & so does x, y or z, was out

Could be annonymous but in a small long established staff team, I would have recognized all writing anyway.

Also couldnt be 'business' related so no - I wish I was paid more/could take holiday in term time or any other contractual issues.

 

What it did do was give a couple of younger/quieter staff members a voice without being shouted down.

I have a staff member who is very good but anytime someone/me asks for an opinion doesnt give others a chance to speak- sometimes I actually have to say 'wait a minute- so and so is speaking' Consequently I sometimes get "I agreed/disagreed with you but couldnt be bothered to say as I didnt want an argument etc"

 

This worked well as in addition to the above it made everyone else think, or say no I dont like that either.

However would this work for you as it sounds like that for whatever reason your manager is the issue here- or rather relations between manager and staff have broken down.

 

What sort of issues do they feel they cannot bring up with the manager and do they say why they cant?

Are they personal or work related?

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Ohhh I like that, I'm going to nab the idea, I have a rather opinionated member of staff, other staff are more worried about what and how she wants things done than how I want them done so are reluctant to voice their opinions/suggestions, this could help :-)

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Another committee member suggested an anonymous sugestion/comment box but I'm not sure it would work.

 

I think the staff feel like the manager doesn't listen to them or says they will do something and it never happens and as such have now just to bothered to raise anything during supervisions etc.

 

Although to me they are quite an outspoken bunch. The manager is aware relationships are strained and says they find it difficult to not be seen as 'part of the team' I really think communication is the key, I may suggest a committee member sitting in on staff meetings so there is extra support for both sides. We also have a new deputy which could help as we have been understaffed for one reason or another over the past few years.

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Another committee member suggested an anonymous sugestion/comment box but I'm not sure it would work.

 

I think the staff feel like the manager doesn't listen to them or says they will do something and it never happens and as such have now just to bothered to raise anything during supervisions etc.

 

Although to me they are quite an outspoken bunch. The manager is aware relationships are strained and says they find it difficult to not be seen as 'part of the team' I really think communication is the key, I may suggest a committee member sitting in on staff meetings so there is extra support for both sides. We also have a new deputy which could help as we have been understaffed for one reason or another over the past few years.

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