When Sheryl Sandberg was asked what she looks for in an employee, she shared, “Someone who takes feedback well. Because people who can take feedback well are people who can learn and grow quickly.”
Providing open and honest feedback is important, as it is impossible for others to read your mind. When there isn’t an open exchange of expectations and constructive criticism, animosity can build. Unfortunately, we have witnessed the all-too-common scenario of a nanny who is unaware of the areas in which she can improve, or is unaware of the reason a working relationship is coming to an end—all because her employers avoid providing honest feedback. This makes it difficult for nannies to grow as professionals, and for us to support them in that venture.
Many parents are not accustomed to being an employer in a home setting, or are unsure how to structure a formal employer-employee relationship with a nanny while maintaining the compassion that such a personal relationship entails. We understand the challenge of drawing clear boundaries. Giving feedback is often seen as an uncomfortable obligation, and is therefore avoided altogether.
Receiving feedback can be equally difficult. Sometimes we view feedback as a personal attack, especially when given in less than ideal ways. Nannies, you must try your hardest to avoid viewing it that way! Go into the conversation with the positive view that feedback gives you an opportunity to grow. Understand that this might also be difficult for your employer, and give them the benefit of the doubt that their intentions are not malicious.
A good first step in providing AND receiving feedback is to acknowledge that there is a common goal, which is to provide the best care for the children as a collaborative team. While we typically envision feedback as coming from an employer and being directed toward a nanny, remember that the family’s home is the nanny’s workplace. It is important for her to feel comfortable so that she can focus her energy on what she does best—caring for the children! The concept of reviews and constructive criticism is universal, and can be used by nannies to give employers feedback as well.
Hopefully you started off on the right foot by scheduling “check-ins” early and often, and that this has become old hat! If not, here are some helpful suggestions:
- Give feedback in a timely manner. Allowing it to fester creates a higher risk of the message being delivered in a harsh way, due to heightened frustrations.
- Set aside a good time to talk when there are no interruptions or outside stressors.
- Discussions should be collaborative—know when it is your turn to listen by using active listening skills. This includes maintaining positive body language and listening to understand rather than listening to respond!
- Pair negative feedback with possible solutions. This shows that you respect your role as a team member and that the success of the relationship is important to you. (For example: a nanny approaching an employer about repeated miscommunications might offer to create a shared Google Calendar in order to more successfully track schedules and integrate communication).
- Make no assumptions that the other person is aware of your perspective. Help them to see it from your perspective by being sincere and providing examples. Parents—instead of just telling your nanny to do more around the house, explain how important it is to be able to come home and spend your precious time with your children. If it makes you sad to have to clean up from the day’s fun you missed, then tell her about those feelings!
- If emotions do get hard to control, ask the other person for a “time out.” It is better to come back to the conversation later than to say something you will regret that may cause damage to the relationship. Make sure to set a time for the follow-up conversation so that you leave it on a positive note.
In conclusion, a healthy feedback exchange will not only strengthen your working relationship, but it also allows for individual, personal, and professional growth. To learn more about communicating effectively, consider attending our next Nanny Up session with Lora Brawley. For more information and to register, click here.