Working as a childminder, building a team has been an interesting journey. Because not only do we have the structure of a working partnership to create but also, developing trust that the staff are in essence working in my personal space; my family home.
As a childminder developing a team has also had an impact on the financial perspective of the business, sustaining a ratio of children to offset the wages etc of employing staff. Having a reserve of monies to cover wages should a child leave or reduce the childcare needed.
Monies set aside to cover the cost of producing payroll documentations. But also taking into consideration the fact of additional overheads like employment liability insurances. Ensuring that once all the overheads are covered financially that there is enough left for myself to earn a salary. As if this was not a viable option then the expansion of a team is futile to me personally as a childminder.
When I first extended the business, I took the opportunity to work in partnership with the local college to employ an apprenticeship.
That had its challenges, my expectations were higher than those of an apprentice on minimum wage, I expected enthusiasm and commitment to the role whereas the apprentice saw it as a means to an end to receive a qualification to move on to the next job. This partnership only briefly lasted four weeks. I saw this as a disappointment as I have so much passion and drive about my role within the childcare sector so took this as a personal failure.
Then in a passing conversation collecting children from school I was approached by a teenager who said wanted to get into childcare but wasnt a course kind of person and preferred a hands-on approach. After much discussion an apprenticeship agreement was started.
Balancing rotas so that the additional children that now attend have the required staffing as set out by Ofsted, and PACEY the insurance company.
Building on what was already known, and setting a clear description of what the role would entail the apprentice became a valuable team player. Then came the student finishing her second year and wanting some part time temp work before returning to college in the September to complete her extended year. This is when the team really started to take shape.
As a manager and team leader it was important for me to harvest the team to benefit the childcare business. I had to supervise the team and monitor and take into account the levels of understanding regarding the skills, expertise and knowledge each team member had.
As the student had more knowledge than the apprentice is was important that roles and tasks given were able to enhance the practices of the apprentice to allow the develop of her knowledge too.
As they both worked closely together it was important to establish rules and boundaries regarding discussing personal issues during working hours. To ensure that personal difference regarding their personal life did not spill into the daily routine. And the need for confidentiality.
The student became a permanent member of the team and has been with me nearly six years, over this time I have continued to employ apprentices and have student placements from the local college, allowing them to develop necessary skills to complete their qualification and go onto gain employment, within other nursery settings.
The main issues that I have experienced in regard to build the team is a clash of personalities regarding the role expected of the apprentices and students, some have found it difficult to accept that the main member of staff is in essence is their supervisor in my absence. I feel that this has been the case due to the closeness in age and the role that personal friendships have created. To overcome this issue, I have ensured that both the apprentices and students have had the opportunity to develop their leadership skills through my supervision, allowing them to set up the day, give ideas and delegate job roles and then evaluate how the day had gone and what if anything needed to be adapted and changed where needed.
When employing someone to join the team it is also important in consider the impact of employing relatives of others in the team. My experience of this was a few years ago, when I employed an apprentice to help out a family member of a staff member. There was a conflict of interest as the apprentice thought she would get an easy ride due to knowing someone already established within the business. But then the member of staff felt torn between loyalty to her family member and that of the business.
Mediation was required to establish clear job roles and the levels of seniority within the setting. Ensuring that the supervision and direction was given by myself so that an atmosphere was not created that would have a negative impact on the children within my care.
Through appraisals and supervision time I have discussed with the team and individuals what they have experienced both positively and negatively about their role. And implement a programme of development to support training opportunities to enhance or secure their knowledge in a particular area.
Staff meetings are held to discuss the business progression and the job roles. All are encouraged to attend to allow all views to be considered and valued. As a small setting we are well bonded
Where a team member has had a particular interest in an area of child development they are encouraged to research and learn further. And to share this with others to enhance the overall practice of the setting but be beneficial to the children as well.
Establishing a team that is accountable for their own actions, completing given tasks and not shrieking responsibilities. As a team we work together closely and understand each others strengths and weaknesses. Some prefer to work with the older children, where others prefer the younger age group, this is noted when delegating daily tasks. But it is also important that skills are developed to harvest all areas of the childcare sector so that if a team member is absent there is not a shortfall within the skillset of the setting.