Question: Some of my staff members treat each other poorly and I have talked to them many times without success. What else can I do to encourage a positive work environment?
Answer: The first step in resolving the problem is addressing it. You will need to let the team members that are not treating others with respect know that their behavior is inappropriate, and if the behavior continues, disciplinary action will result. No one should have to work in a toxic work environment.
Additionally, you will want to work with all of your staff members on creating a positive and more functional work environment.
Here are some links to encourage staff to start working as a team:
Always be sure that you are modeling appropriate behavior in your center as well.
Question: I have a lead teacher that comes from a different background and always feels like she is being picked on by other staff members. She is unhappy but will not listen to my suggestions, what do you recommend?
Answer: There will undoubtedly be conflict that arises with people coming from different backgrounds and experiences and I am happy to offer suggestions for working with challenging staff members.
The biggest thing to understand is that communication is key! If there is a communication obstacle or challenge then there will eventually be bigger problems. Do what you can to alleviate these challenges in a respectful and meaningful way. In addition to this, give your staff communication strategies to use with everyone in the center, not just with this lead teacher. Maybe set up a teacher mailbox system or help align meetings and prep time to assist in this.
For more information about communication between staff:
Question: What do you do if a parent does not like one of the staff members?
Answer: Unfortunately, there will be times when parents do not get along with teachers and vice versa. I think it is important to understand where the tension comes from before you can try to remedy the situation. It may boil down to a simple difference in expectations or something that was miscommunicated. If you can have a lead or support teacher assist with any communication with the parents this may help to smooth things over.
Another thing that has always worked well for me in the past is to remain calm and kind and to always invite the parents to come and speak with the teacher whenever they feel they should. If the parents are aggressive and rude then it is the director’s job to step in and help. This can range between being present for teacher-parent conversations as a support or taking over communications directly.
There is no one correct answer for this type of situation and it will take a lot of work to get to the root of the problem but it is completely necessary to do so.
Question: I am a new director and the center I am at is having financial difficulties, how do I encourage the staff without coming off as threatening and unsupportive?
Answer: The biggest suggestion I give to directors is to know their team and build relationships with them. This does take time but I think you will find that by investing the time and effort into really getting to know each individual will give you a great start. The second suggestion I usually give is to communicate! Communication breakdowns are the biggest source of stress due to misinterpretations. These misinterpretations can make directors seem more threatening and much less supportive. This is the opposite of what you want for an effective team.
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