Self-confessed process-improvement nerd and speaker Beth Cannon reveals how establishing the right tools in your early childhood centre can lead to profound changes in you as a leader, and your people.
“When we know better, we do better. When we level up our business or our leadership, it’s because we’ve made mistakes along the way and we realise the error of our ways,” says Beth.
Nobody wants to be an overwhelmed, scattered leader. In order to do the things you want to do as a leader, Beth says your processes and procedures in the backend must be organised.
Improved processes eliminate paper fatigue
Paper is a common cause for overwhelm among early education settings as it becomes an avalanche of forms to be completed, signed, copied and filed, sticky note reminders to manage, and clunky manuals to read.
“It is exhausting to deal with that much paper,” says Beth.
And it becomes costly, in terms of reputation, licensing and your time when things start to fall through the cracks.
“It falls apart from the beginning,” she says, citing how for many directors, being people pleasers, anxiety runs high when they feel they’ve disappointed their paying clients.
While it’s rarely intentional, Beth says it happens because these leaders are overwhelmed, and “that creates almost a mental health crisis.”
Having robust back-end processes in place gives directors that all-important peace of mind and freedom from getting bogged down.
“If you do not have a repeatable and consistent sequence, you will miss something every time,” says Beth.
1Place Childcare automates backend processes by helping leaders, owners, and directors keep on top of the things they expect to happen are actually happening.
Beth sees 1Place as a framework where leaders choose from a list of things they need so their team knows what they need to know, think and do.
“ 1Place Childcare helps automate, delegate and eliminate.”
Nail your onboarding process to retain staff
Attracting and retaining staff is essential to the success of every early education organization. If an employee is going to leave, it is in the first 90 days, so being onboarded well is critical.
As more and more new hires enter the industry – having learned online rather than in classrooms or with textbooks – directors must rethink how they’re communicating processes and procedures.
“People are not going to read that big thick paper manual,” says Beth. Rather, you should think in terms of instructional design;
– what are the outcomes (to know, think and do)?
– how can I design this instruction so they know what their job looks and feels like?
With consistent processes in place and trust in your dashboards to monitor the compliance side, you as a manager can focus on investing in the employee – “because that is what is going to keep them”.
“Your job is to retain, motivate and develop that employee so they become your culture warriors, lead teachers and brand ambassadors,” says Beth.
The Secret Sauce
While compliance may not be the most fun part of the job, it has to be done.
Beth calls it the ‘secret sauce’ because once you get it all out of your head and off post-it notes and organized into a system like 1Place Childcare, directors can focus on embedding best practice into culture.
With 1Place Childcare, you can set clear expectations to create a culture of accountability and feedback – where you’re building each other up and each team member knows exactly what is expected – when, where and how.
The data allows staff to see opportunities for growth and that someone cares about what they’re doing, says Beth.
It allows you to think about how you can show that you value them so they know they’re supported, they’re heard, and that you’ve got their backs.
When people feel motivated and engaged, they will be empowered to “go into the classroom and have a great time with the children”, says Beth.
What’s more, online processes can consistently be implemented so you can replicate your secret sauce as your centers grow or adapt to new policies.
“One of the things that 2020 taught us is that nothing stays the same. No-one has been immune – we’ve all had to update our policies and procedures.”
While you may have a fantastic team culture, Beth says directors must also be conscious that staff won’t always be there and must think as business owners – “you will be hiring new people”.
So plan for the future, set goals and look ahead.