I’m a really strong advocate of empowering child care staff members. The more empowered your staff is, the more successful your business can be.
But empowering child care staff is a bit tricky!
- You must empower enough – but not too much.
- You must direct the empowerment – and contain it.
- You must enable empowerment – and encourage it.
So, let’s look at these statements to help you to implement empowerment in your center.
- When I say you must empower, but not too much, I say this as a warning. Some directors could think that it’s OK to just turn over a big responsibility to a staff member without any direction. This could result is an unwanted result.
You’ll have to ask yourself:
- How much “power” do I want this staff member to have? How far can she go in making decisions? How will she or I know when she has exerted too much power?
But let’s look at it in an opposite way. If you don’t tell your staff member how much far she can go, you risk:
- The staff member stops short of your desired hope of acting empowered.
- She only gets the job half-done because she thinks that’s all she should do.
The bottom line: a staff member must be told how much AND how little she is empowered to do.
- You have to direct the empowerment and contain it, because “power” tends to take on a life of its own.
People who are not used to having power (authority) sometimes struggles with how much or how little to exert.
When a staff member is given new levels of power, she sometimes doesn’t know how to exert it, and may appear to be too timid or too forceful. She may stumble with how to communicate direction in a clear manner. She may ask others for too much.
Others may resent the newly empowered staff member, and there will be tentative actions that may impede the progress.
It’s up to you to nurture this new role for your staff member.
- You must enable empowerment, and encourage it if this has not been the normal mode of operation in your center.
Everyone in your center probably knows “their place.” They know who is in charge of what, who makes the rules and the decisions, and who just does what they are told to do.
If you plan to being to empower your staff, all of these “know factors” are about to change. (Yes, I said that scary word – CHANGE.)
This is a process. It will take some trial and error for both of you to perfect these new roles!
What’s the bottom line on empowering staff?
- You’ll have more time to do the things you want and need to do.
- Your staff will be more involved, more dedicated to their work.
- You will be creating more leaders in your center. These leaders will be great role models for your children.
- Everyone will win!
Here is another resource for you: