Starting With the End in Mind

Do you remember your very first day in your job? I remember my first day of work at 4C. I was nervous. I wondered what the people would be like. I wondered who I would eat lunch with. I wondered if I had the knowledge to do the job well and live up to my supervisor’s expectations. My mind raced as I drove from home to the coffee shop, and then pulled into the office parking lot.

Now many years later I am on the other side, and here I sit, awaiting the arrival of a new employee. I conducted a thorough interview process with help from staff and guided by Human Resources. I narrowed the pool of applicants to those that possessed the skills, experience and qualities that would suit them for the work of the position and to complement the existing team. I knew before the first interview exactly what I was looking for.

Turnover is frequent in child care, and directors often find themselves in the position to advertise, interview and provide orientation for new staff. It is not uncommon to want to rush the process, to think, “I have so many administrative responsibilities; I need to get out of the classroom.” But as sure as the sky is blue, if you hire the wrong person because you rushed, you will be right back where you started, in the classroom. Putting together a careful plan can save you from sleepless nights and a “to do” list that just won’t quit.

There are countless resources and tips on interviewing and orientation. Two tried and true resources for directors in the areas of staffing, orientation, and staff development are Blueprint for Action and Developing and Administering a Child Care and Education Program.

Once my recent interview process was complete and the candidate had accepted the job offer, the real work began to put together a meaningful and thorough orientation. The orientation I have developed includes a balance of company procedures and expectations, talking, reading, reflection time, meetings with staff, community visits and observing. Adults have diverse learning styles, so it is important to plan for a variety of activities to appeal to all types of learners. The other thing to remember is that the orientation process takes time, and ninety days is a typical introductory period in most organizations. It is that length of time and more that a supervisor should be accessible, providing feedback and actively supporting the new staff member.

4C offers several training opportunities to provide directors and administrators with staff management, like “Human Resources: The Pitfalls” at our Northern Kentucky office, “Strength-Based Supervision: Building Staff One Strength at a Time” in the Miami Valley, and “Getting Them Off to a Great Start: The Orientation Process” in Cincinnati and Lebanon.