There is nothing that can help your daycare more than good caregivers. But there’s also nothing that can be more detrimental to its progress than difficult daycare staff.

While some employees are great caregivers, working in daycare means creating healthy workplace culture, as well. And if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to people in your collective, we’ve assembled a guide that will help you improve cooperation with difficult daycare staff.

Mind the boundaries

First of all, you need to become a good leader. There are many roles you will have to play as a daycare owner, but this is the one you can’t delegate to anyone else.

One part of that role is setting clear boundaries. Your door may be open for feedback and comments, but when it comes to job descriptions and fixed policies, every employee should be on the same page as you.

Make sure you emphasize that, no matter if it comes to parent-teacher conflict or staff gossip. There is a place for conflict resolution, but it’s not in the classroom or in the corridors.

Whatever happens, give your staff enough guidance. And make them aware that breaking the rules has consequences.

For example, a caregiver may feel that they know better than you when it comes to resolving a conflict with the parent. This may be true but if they go off on their own without consulting you, it can cause permanent damage to your daycare.

A way to improve cooperation with difficult daycare staff in this case would be to set clear boundaries between feedback time, and time for concrete steps they have to take according to the policies you set.

This helps them assume less responsibility by using the solution you prescribed, while knowing that they will get the chance to speak their mind later.

Similarly, in case of dissatisfaction with another staff member, help the difficult employee compartmentalize. Their work should be the priority, and they can discuss conflict resolution with you later.

Visible on the inside shouldn’t be visible on the outside

Being the leader and owner of your daycare center means being a mentor, too.

There are many things that can cause job dissatisfaction – from limited resources to poor relationships in the workplace. The difference between a good and difficult staff member here means that a good staff member won’t let it show, while a difficult one may resort to gossip and acts of passive aggression.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are someone you can’t work with. You may just have to show them a better way of dealing with problems.

If there is a problem in your daycare, the kids and parents shouldn’t feel it in the way caregivers do their jobs and/or talk to them. Every daycare’s operations are confidential, which is best mentioned when the caregivers start working in the center.

A way to improve cooperation with difficult daycare staff is to, once again, set clear boundaries and rules, but give them a chance to talk about what is bothering them.

If the problem is lack of resources, you can take a look at how Hopping In helps you fill your daycare’s vacant spots, and make use of absences to make more money and boost enrollment.

Your staff member might just be suffering from burnout. Work on solutions with them while emphasizing that this is an internal matter you can solve together.Daycare center staff gossip can be a big issue that gets in the way of productivity and creates workplace tension.

No matter what the core problem is (and always try to find it; what you see is only 5% of the real issue), help your staff members understand that bad-mouthing their workplace isn’t a good way to solve the problem. It’s just a way to make things worse.

Aligning with the vision

Cooperation with difficult daycare staff is easier when everyone aligns with your mission and vision.

However, this can slip an employee’s mind as time passes, so it’s good to work on various strategies and goals as a collective.

Don’t make your staff feel alienated from decision-making. They are the most important part of your daycare, so help them see that in more than just the hours they put in.

Make staff meetings short and productive, and emphasize achieved goals. You can also celebrate success with your staff, which is an excellent way of keeping them motivated.

Make successes and cooperation a part of your daycare’s mission and vision. Positive reinforcement isn’t just for the kids – it’s easier to handle problems if you keep your mind on all the good things you have achieved, and will achieve.

Focus on the behavior, not the person

No one is perfect but that doesn’t mean that a difficult staff member can’t become a perfect one.

Everyone can develop bad behaviors, so make sure you focus on the display of bad behavior, and not the person behind it.

Like with kids, if you define people by their bad behavior, they can internalize it and let it become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

No matter how hard it may be to improve cooperation with difficult daycare staff, have patience.

Remember that you are there to help them resolve a problem, and not take the person out of the equation completely. Give them guidelines and advice, but teach them how to deal with it – don’t deal with it yourself unless the situation absolutely calls for it.

A leader, not a referee

When improving cooperation with difficult daycare staff, remember that you are a leader and a mentor – not a referee.

Assess the situation clearly, and allow them to express their opinion. Help them come to a solution, instead of always offering one. While this can be time-consuming, it’s better in the long run.

This doesn’t just go for when a conflict occurs; you can implement strategies that allow staff to have a larger role in your daycare, and make them feel valued.

Some problems just can’t be helped easily, though. If you are lacking resources in your daycare and the staff feel it, don’t blame them.

Don’t blame yourself, either. Running a daycare is a big task, so keep an eye out for options that can help you do it better.

For example, Hopping In allows you to utilize absences in your daycare and offer daycare-on-demand by letting part-timers and drop-in families book more time. It displays your calendar to parents who need more care for their kids, and gets you one step closer to running your daycare at full capacity.

While running a successful daycare is the main goal of every owner, remember that your employees are a part of that success, too. Don’t be afraid to show it, and keep improving, no matter what.

Author: Hopping In Blog

Sholom Strick is an expert on the business of running daycare centers and founder of Hopping In, a tool that helps childcare centers and family daycare providers fill unused spots.

To contact him or for media inquiries email

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