How to manage different personalities among your educators

Published on Tuesday, 23 July 2019
Last updated on Tuesday, 31 December 2019

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One of the most challenging, time consuming, and subsequently costly elements of running an early childhood centre is the recruitment, training, and retention of quality staff members.

Ensuring staff are happy is the key to preventing high turnover, however a recent study, showed that only 31 per cent of childcare workers are 'highly satisfied' in their current centre.

The solution? Identifying the different personalities of your educators and what motivates them, to ensure you're meeting their goals and managing them effectively as a team.

There are typically several different personality types you'll find in early childhood educators. Let's have a look at some of these and how best to manage them.

Ambitious and independent

Always ready for a challenge and keen to progress, this person is usually organised, reliable, strives for excellence and is probably already working towards a leadership role within your service. Their strong personality means they might work better independently, but only once trust has been established.

The best way to support these teachers is to ensure there is opportunity for growth available to enable them to progress. Encouraging these educators to speak up during staff meetings, giving them extra responsibilities and other staff to mentor will help them feel valued, challenged and develop self-confidence and self-management skills.

High energy but overwhelmed

This is the teacher who children probably rave most about to their parents. They're tons of fun, highly creative and spontaneous – however they're also usually scattered, disorganised, overwhelmed and struggle to get everything done.

What they need from you is help with time management and prioritisation. Understanding why they have so much anxious energy can also help reduce the amount of stress they're feeling and let them creatively flourish. Work out ways together to help them overcome their challenges, while also letting them know how much you love their energy and rapport with the kids.

The quiet achiever

Many introverts in early childcare education are overlooked yet are highly effective at their job and a great asset to a service. This type of teacher is very nurturing, dependable and comfortable. They've probably been with you for a while, are experienced and understand the team culture well. However, they're not one to seek out praise or let you know when there is an issue.

The best way to manage these quiet achievers is to establish an environment where they feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, ideas and feelings. Give praise and feedback in reviews, and make sure you check in regularly at other times to make sure they're happy, inspired and respected.

Opinionated and intense

This teacher is often the hardest to manage. They have a strong personality; are outspoken, don't agree, and have their own perception about how things should be done. They're also prone to gossip and arguing when they're dissatisfied.

The key thing here is find out why they're acting out or being irrational and look for a way to have a constructive open conversation. Listen to what they have to say without bias and offer solutions. It might turn out that poor management or environment is the root of their negative behaviour, so once you understand the problem, work with them on what techniques suit them best and develop a plan to help improve the situation. Being heard by management is the first step in boosting staff morale and job satisfaction.

Reflect on your own personality

Managing a team of different personalities effectively also requires looking at oneself and how you may be handling leadership. Perhaps there are areas for improvement. Here are some core principles to work with:

  • Be consistent with your goals – Having a clear and consistent vision for your centre will ensure each team member is aligned and working towards the same goal, which helps minimise team conflict and increase motivation.
  • Build trust and autonomy – Don't dictate the actions of your team, as a leader you need to build up the people around you to create independent thinkers and problem solvers. When teachers are able to flourish in the workplace it creates a stable environment for children and their families, which in turn improves the quality of your programs and service offering.
  • Walk the talk – Lead by example if you want to earn the respect and trust of your educators. Creating an environment of transparency and supportiveness will go a long way in motivating staff to operate in the same manner.

What makes a great early childhood educator?

While we're talking about different personalities and traits, here's a reminder of what five key characteristics are essential for great early childhood educators:

  • Passion
  • Patience
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Dedication

So regardless of what personality type you're managing, keep these characteristics in mind and help foster them in all your staff members. You'll then be well on your way to having a quality team of inspired educators that will help you improve the quality of your service to create the best outcomes for children and their families.

Thanks to HiMama for this information.

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