What qualities are we looking for in Early Years practitioners?
As leaders we have our own picture of what the perfect childcare practitioner looks like, they are reliable, cheery, possess good written skills, communicate well and have a passion for seeing children grow and develop. Take a second to close your eyes and picture that person, what are their unique characteristics, behaviours, mannerisms and skills? Get a piece of paper and write those things down (obviously opening your eyes for that part!) Forget qualification levels because we all know that at times this is just a piece of paper.
Now consider yourself as a practitioner, again close your eyes and consider your skills, behaviours and characteristics and the beliefs you brought with you when you began your leadership journey. Write these down on a separate piece of paper.
How closely do the two lists compare? Are we expecting our staff to display the same characteristics, behaviours and skills we did as a practitioner? As we ask ourselves ‘is there only one way to peel an orange?’ we should consider if our expectations are realistic.
Looking back on your two lists, decide on your priorities, if we try to do everything yesterday, which some of us do, we will fail at it all. At the top of your priority list put the thing which is most important, and the next, and so on, then decide which of your requirements you are not prepared to compromise on. I imagine your list does not compare to the job description or person specification your staff considered when applying for the job, but these are things that matter to you and you are going to wear them like a badge, repeat them as a mantra, look out for them in all your staff and communicate to your team “these are my expectations of you”.
Each member of your team will have their own personalities; they may do things slightly differently to how you would do something, but is the orange still peeled? Try to see past the behaviour and measure against the outcome. Give yourself a break and don’t sweat the small stuff.