In any career field you choose, you will be faced with the occasional awkward situation with your employer. From differences of opinion to payment disputes, the nanny industry is no exception to that rule. Handling those situations as a private, in-home childcare provider can be a bit trickier than in other jobs, though, because the relationship between a family and the nanny that runs the household in their absence is, by nature, a bit more personal. Tackling the awkward and uncomfortable with your boss might not be the most exciting item on your to-do list, but it’s an inevitable part of mounting a career.
Be Direct and Honest
On the surface, it’s more appealing to beat around the proverbial bush than to dive headlong into an uncomfortable situation with your boss. Whether you’re addressing feelings of burnout, a claim that you’re being unfairly paid or the looming specter of job creep, it’s very important that you come into the conversation with a direct and honest attitude. That’s not to say that you can’t be gentle and understanding, just that you’re doing no favors to yourself or your employers by making vague allusions to the situation or being less than honest. Your boss needs to know if you’re feeling stressed or on the verge of burning out due to job creep, or that you’re thinking of finding another post because you don’t feel that you’re being paid fairly.
Skip the Confrontational Attitude
You absolutely should be direct and honest with your employer, but that doesn’t mean that you should be abrasive or confrontational. It’s entirely possible to handle a prickly situation without being more forceful than is warranted, and it’s important that you find that balance. Regardless of how you feel at the moment, your employer is still the one that signs your check, and it’s best to approach them accordingly. Remember that respect is key, even when you’re taking the bull by the horns.
Keep Your Temper in Check
Feeling angry or hurt when you discover an undisclosed nanny cam or aren’t being paid fairly is a natural reaction to the situation, but it won’t do you any good to approach a conversation with those attitudes apparent. Even if you’re seething, keeping your temper under control is imperative.
Accept Responsibility Gracefully
There may be times over the course of your career when an awkward situation arises over something that you’ve inadvertently done wrong. It’s never easy to hear that your employer is unhappy with your performance, but it’s important that you handle these situations with grace. Remember that it’s probably just as uncomfortable for your employer to approach the situation as it is for you to hear that feedback.
Know When to Keep Quiet
Some of the most uncomfortable situations in a nanny’s career arise when she finds something of a personal nature over the course of her work or overhears a sensitive conversation. Unless you feel that the children under your care are in danger or have proof of illegal activity, it’s usually best to let these situations pass without remark. Learning that your employers are planning to divorce or are dealing with a similarly painful situation is awkward, but ultimately falls under the heading of “none of your business.” Your employers may feel that it’s appropriate to approach you with further explanation if they’re aware that you’ve overheard them, which would be the only acceptable time to discuss it.
Hopefully, you’ll never encounter a situation in which you feel personally threatened or harassed by one of your employers. If you do find that you’re in one of these rare predicaments, it’s usually best to address it as calmly and matter-of-factly as possibly. Don’t be intimidated into accepting such treatment, especially if you know that the other half of your employer team would benefit from being fully apprised of the situation.
Notifying your employers that you’ve chosen not to renew your contract at the end of your term can also be daunting, but this is another awkward situation in which you’ll need to be courageous and proactive. They’ll need ample time to find a replacement, so it’s important that you give them as much notice as possible of your decision. Putting off the unpleasant conversation might buy you a bit of time in which you can act as if nothing has changed, but will ultimately make everything more complicated when your employers feel betrayed by your lack of notice and stressed about the prospect of finding a qualified replacement on short notice.