Periodic performance evaluation are par for the course in most professions in some form or another, but isn’t always carried over to the private childcare sector. If you’re the employer of a nanny, the success of your relationship and ability to avoid disputes that lead to turnover rests largely upon your ability to clearly and respectfully communicate with one another. Conducting regular reviews and evaluations will not only afford the two of you the opportunity to discuss areas in which she excels and those in which she could stand some improvement, but also your mutual expectations and vision for the upcoming year or quarter.
If you’ve recently hired a new nanny and instituted a trial period policy in your work agreement, preparing for the end of that trial period with a realistic, fair and honest assessment of her performance can help both of you determine whether or not the fit and working relationship is one that works best for everyone involved. While you should absolutely address any serious concerns you have before offering a more permanent working arrangement, there are some things you should consider overlooking at the end of a trial period. Depending on how long that trial period is, she may still be struggling to acclimate herself with where things belong or how to properly navigate your complicated home-security system. Indicators that she’s simply not a good nanny definitely shouldn’t be ignored, but a bit of lenience if she clearly means well may not be cause for lengthy discussion. You should, however, make it very clear that there will be a thorough evaluation at the end of the trial period, so that she’s not surprised and unnecessarily anxious when it’s announced.
Setting Up a Regular Evaluation Schedule
If you plan you use your nanny’s annual or quarterly evaluation to determine any salary increases or performance bonuses, it’s best to make sure that the evaluations are regularly scheduled and take place near the time you’ll be making your decision regarding compensation. It’s easier to get a clear, accurate picture of your nanny’s day-to-day habits when evaluations are regularly spaced and a normal part of your working relationship.
What to Look For During an Evaluation
In addition to the normal aspects of work performance like punctuality, attendance and enthusiasm, you should make an effort to examine your nanny’s general mood and behavior. If she seems more withdrawn, frustrated or less patient than normal, she may be suffering from the early stages of burnout and could need a bit of vacation time to recuperate. Pay careful attention to how your children greet her each morning, and how they react when she leaves, as their behavior will give you the most accurate picture of how she treats them when you aren’t observing. Consider school-aged kids’ academic performance and behavior to determine whether or not they’re getting the attention they need. Consider her performance as a whole, rather than making a sweeping generalization based on a few aspects.
While your nanny should never argue or become confrontational with you, she should be allowed the chance to speak for herself and address any concerns you bring to her attention after an evaluation. Making the decision to simply terminate her contract or refuse a scheduled salary increase based on a few factors without giving her the opportunity to explain them not only makes your behavior a bit unfair, but also opens the door for your nanny to become hurt and resentful.
Confront Concerns in a Calm, Professional Manner
Unless your nanny actually is the embodiment of Mary Poppins, you will invariably have concerns that you’ll need to discuss with her and situations that will need to be addressed over the course of your working relationship. Ensuring that you do so calmly and respectfully, in a thoroughly professional manner, will allow her to not only understand that your concerns are valid, but can encourage her to address them, rather than feeling hurt or angry at an assessment that she feels is unfair.
Evaluate Yourself, As Well as Your Nanny
Before you approach your nanny with things that you see as problematic or indicative of future trouble, take a moment to evaluate yourself as an employer and your home as a work environment. In the time since your last evaluation, have you increased your nanny’s hours or added to her responsibilities without increasing her salary? If so, any frustration that you’ve observed could be the very warranted result of feeling that she’s being taken advantage of. Carefully consider how you’ve behaved and conducted the business of employing your nanny, and determine whether or not you would want to do her job for her current salary. You should naturally address behavior that’s unacceptable or that worries you, but you should preface it with an acknowledgment of her increased duties and stress level.