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Hi. I have been in my setting for almost 2 weeks and in that time, I have been trying to build good working relationships with my colleagues. I am the baby unit leader, responsible for 4 other members of staff.


Yesterday, my manager was on annual leave and the deputy was in charge. She hung around the baby unit a bit more than usual (ie, when my manager is there) and was very rude to one of the girls, resulting in her bursting into tears and unable to do any work for half an hour.


I took her into the kitchen and asked what was wrong and she told me what had happened. I had already heard the deputy be rude to this girl once but somehow missed the second incident. She was very upset, so I asked her what she would like me to do? Did she want me to keep quiet, or go to my manager with her complaint. She said she was worried about the implications of me speaking to my manager as her and the deupty are very friendly, and the deputy would find out she had been talking about her and would get some kind of backlash from her.


I told her that I would write down what she said, and then leave her to think about what she wanted to do over the weekend. I personally think my manager should know what happened but obviously I don't want to go against her wishes.


I feel she came to me in an attempt to have me resolve the situation, but to be honest, I am really not sure what to do. I think it is disgusting that a deputy manager can act so appaullingly when left in charge of the nursery. I have noticed with her that she says and does things when she thinks I am not around, or that I can't hear. She has also, in my opinion, targeted this one girl, as I did the same thing as her in the morning, and nothing was said to me.


What do you think I should do? Did I handle it well or could I have done more?

Edited by Clare
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Clare, I think the fact that you have only been in the setting for a short time you need to tread a little carefully until you really get to know of any 'hidden agenda's' so to speak.

There may be a long standing personality clash between these two people. However, I think as it stands you did what you could do given the circumstances, to me there is a fine balance of a deputy supervising staff in the managers absence to actually resorting to bullying behaviour.


If I were you I would concentrate on giving the member of staff who was upset, to the point that she couldn't function, some support in developing her own coping strategies for dealing with people like the deputy. Find ways to help her build her confidence to stand up to unnacceptable behaviour. I know this is difficult, I was bullied in my teens and know how hard it is, but on the other hand when working in this profession we need to have strength to be able to stand up for what is right. As advocates for the children, for example. All my staff as part of their job description are, for example expected to challenge racist or prejudiced comments from anyone, this is a skill that we discuss at staff meetings, how to challenge adults for innappropriate behaviour be it other staff, parents, or other visitors to the setting.


Maybe if you start at this angle you can then give some time to observe and record the deputy's future behaviour and take this information yourself to the owner, if needed.


The deputy shouldn't be enabled to behave this way but concrete evidence, of more than one occasion will enable you to make clear to the owners that this is not a one off incident and therefore really does need to be addressed.


good luck



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Thanks Peggy. I think this is why I am struggling to find a suitable way of dealing with the situation, I have only been there a short time and I don't really know if things I am being told are 'genuine'. However, I did hear the way the deputy spoke to the NN in the morning, and I have, as promised to the NN, written it down, times, dates, who said what etc. I thought if this was likely to be an ongoing thing, at least I had evidence to present to the manager if necessary. If there's one thing I've learnt from the FSF, that's to write everything down!


From my FD experience, I have also learnt to bite my tongue at most things. I think this is partly due to the number of 'unsuitable' places I have worked, and the trouble I have had, being an outspoken member of the team :o . I tend to speak first, think later, particularly when I see things that I just do not agree with. Now, I am trying to keep quiet, go home and consider what has happened and nine times out of ten, I realise that the situation wasn't as major as first thought. Hindsight is a wonderful thing...


This is what I tried to say to the NN yesterday. Just rise above it, ignore her nasty comments and just meet her with a smile and do as she asks. That way, it cannot be misconstrued that she has said or done anything to warrant such behaviour from the deputy. She is very sensitive and commutes everyday from Kent (not too far from you actually, but have to be careful what I write in case it gets seen by others xD ) so I suggested that maybe she was feeling the strain of long days in the nursery and the constant travelling, and that once she got used to it, she would perhaps feel less tired and less sensitive.


I think I understand what you mean about encouraging her to develop skills to stand up for herself. I know she feels a bit threatened by change, so I have kept change to the absolute minimum. The only thing I have asked of them so far is to make sure the toys/equipment are put away in the right boxes, that things are cleaned/sterilised (toys in mouth etc. We have chciken pox going around at the moment) and I have also asked them all to make sure their observations are in date order.


I know she was concerned about changes to planning (we currently do FS where we should be doing BTTM) and observations, but all I have asked them to do, is to 'practice' observations, by writing down 'little' things the children do. She is the only one who has done any of these things and I have congratualted her for this, and am trying to encourage her in these areas. I have said that if we can practice until Christmas, we can go into the new year with new plans, appropriate to the needs of the children and we will be doing everything we should.

Am I along the right lines here?


It's just really hard to know what to do for the best, being that I have been there for so little time. So, sorry for rambling, but I was trying to answer your post with my interpretation of how I am/should be doing as you have said.


Thanks again, Peggy!

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Great advice already from Peggy. As she says, take your time, observe, record and support your colleague as you might be seeing the full picture yet.


My initial thought was, shouldn't the deputy have made her comments through you as you are in charge of the baby room, but then you might be in the firing line.


I was bullied at work in my last job, not in childcare, by my line manager who could not cope with the stress of her job so took it out on people around her. My colleague was off work for a month because of the stress of being bullied by her just after I joined the place. I was not taken seriously by the management, even though they had a responsibility to their employees. In the end I decided to leave and persue a more worthwhile career. Their loss, I was well thought of by my colleagues.


I did eventually confront her but only after it got so bad that I couldn't sleep. I found a website about bullying at work which gave me the courage to do something.


So I have an issue with bullys, I hate to see it. As Peggy says help your colleague have the confidence to stand up for herself in an assertive manner (without getting too emotional). Might be some tips on the web.


With regard to BTTM, think you're doing the right thing. Should be doing BTTM, good idea to wait to new year to introduce change. Can you show your staff the BTTM dvd, give them a little presentation as a group of the leaflets?


Good luck.

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That's a good idea Deb. I have ordered BTTM packs for all the girls and they have been on training so hopefully, going through it all with them should refresh their memories!

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Clare, I think you've got it spot on, you are learning the staffs strengths and areas to develop ( including the deputys communication skills-or lack of). Taking things one step at a time. You have also reflected on your own past experiences and developed your own strategies for best ways for you to deal with things, well done.


Deb, It is a shame when people are affected by bullies, and thanks for sharing your experience. I was a bit reluctant to suggest that a person 'should be able to stand up for themselves' because I know it is easier said than done, and I didn't want anyone else who is reading this post who is in a similar situation to feel any worse because they can't at this point stand up to a bully. The last thing I wanted to do was let someone feel even more inadequate. Your experience shows that dealing with the situation even if it seems that the bully has won ( decision to leave) actually shows that positives can come out of bad experiences. And quite right too, their loss.

Management however do have a serious responsibility to ensure bullying is dealt with within the workplace and one way to start ( amongst others) is to offer assertiveness training for staff.


Best of luck Clare, looks like you are in for a good 2007. :D



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