Change management skills are important for any leader to have, and this has perhaps never been more the case in light of all of the adjustments resulting from COVID-19. For early childhood educators, who have such demanding and exhausting schedules every day, even one small change can be enough to cause a lot of anxiety — so when everything has changed, leaders need to approach the situation with careful thought and planning.
In this article, we’ll go over 6 essential skills child care directors and owners will need to lead their teams through change. By following these tips, you’ll turn anxiety into excitement!
1. Have a Vision
People will only embrace change if they feel that it is being made for a good reason. Before you can expect your team to get on board with whatever changes are happening, you must have a clear vision of where you are taking your organization and why these improvements are necessary. Only then will you be able to earn your staff’s trust and willingness to embrace the new processes that you are implementing.
2. Build Relationships
If your closest friend and a stranger both asked you for a favor, who would you choose? Similarly, a boss who has a close relationship with an employee will have a much easier time getting buy-in than one who they only hear from once every few months.
Never take your relationships with your staff for granted. Saying hello, asking about their family, hosting team-building events and recognizing their hard work will go a long way towards earning their trust and getting them on your side when you need them. Plus, with all of the stressful things that come along with the job, being friendly isn’t exactly the hardest thing in the world to do!
3. Communicate Effectively
You could have the greatest plan in the world, but if it is not communicated properly then it will be destined to fail. Be thoughtful about how you present these changes to your team. A 100-page essay will be information overload, and a two-sentence email will be missing crucial information. Figure out what works best for your team and share information in a way that they are most likely to understand everything you need to share. If you have a great plan, your staff should have no problem getting on-board if they fully understand what is happening.
4. Be a Great Listener
Communication is a two-way street. Just as you expect your team to listen to what you have to say, you need to give them a chance to share their thoughts with you. This doesn’t mean filling out a form and placing it in a box; they need to know that you have actually heard them and are taking their feedback seriously. This will show that you truly value what they have to say, and can often be an opportunity to address obstacles that are in the way of getting their buy-in.
5. Set an Example
Be a role model for your staff. If you want your team to behave a certain way, it is only fair to ask of them if you do the same yourself. Things have a way of trickling down an organization from the top; if you are negative and don’t like the changes that are happening, so too will your staff, but if you are excited about them, your staff will be more likely to start feeling this way as well.
Think of any sports movie where the team is in the locker room at half time after losing in the first half of the big game. Just when it seems like all hope is lost, the coach comes into the middle of the room, gives a passionate speech that pumps up the players, who then run back out onto the field and win the championship! While this example is quite different than a child care setting, the principles are the same: a leader needs to get his or her team excited about what’s to come and give them the confidence to get there.
What are some of the qualities of great leaders that you admire? Let us know in the comments!