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Leading or Managing the Childcare Workforce

The field of childcare continues to face significant challenges, characterized by labor shortages and a high rate of turnover. Directors find themselves occupied with managing their current staff while striving to fill vacancies. While effective management is crucial in the recruitment process, it is leadership that plays a pivotal role in retaining a strong workforce. To grasp this concept, we must first understand the distinction between managing and leading.

In simple terms, managing is focused on doing things correctly, while leading centers on doing the right things. As a center director in her managerial role, she may undertake the right steps, such as creating a position description and advertising the vacancy online. Subsequently, she will assess candidates to find the best match for the position through interviews. The ultimate goal is to retain the newly hired teacher for an extended period.

On the other hand, in her leadership role, a center director should focus on doing the right things. For instance, she may contemplate the following questions and issues:

1) Why are staff members leaving? Would the same reasons apply to new recruits? What changes should I implement, if necessary? The director may discover that the daycare’s culture is contributing to the turnover. Establishing a strong culture requires acts of leadership, including providing appropriate rewards and fostering meaningful rituals.

2) Am I consistently using the same methods and techniques for hiring? Embracing the role of a leader might prompt the director to develop an alternative to online advertising. Building a robust network of partnerships with early childhood educators in local colleges or high schools can lead to referrals of competent students.

In conclusion, directors undoubtedly need to manage the recruitment process by effectively executing necessary tasks. However, becoming a leader is of utmost importance as it involves contemplating essential questions and discovering new strategies to enhance the effectiveness and longevity of recruitment and retention efforts.

For more information and training opportunities, please contact Dr. Hamid Akbari, Director of ECE Workforce Servant Leader Teachers Academy at hamid@sayyestochildcare.org

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