Ongoing and honest communication is crucial to having a successful nanny/family relationship and a big part of that communication puzzle is giving your nanny feedback on her performance. Letting her know all the ways she’s doing a great job is the easy part. Showing your appreciation for her hard work and devotion is the feel good part of giving feedback. However, she also needs to hear about the things you’d like her to do differently. This is a much harder conversation to have.
Nanny employers often don’t want to provide any kind of negative feedback because they feel it will damage their working relationship with their nanny. However, when a parent strongly feels the nanny should make a change or adjustment to how she does something, whether it’s disciplining a child, driving defensively, texting on the job or organizing the play room, it’s important to address it. Sweeping those kinds of things under the rug will only result in a build-up of anger and frustration. Over time those feelings will damage the employment relationship; the very thing the parent was trying to avoid doing in the first place. Here are some things to keep in mind when providing feedback to your nanny.
Decide if the issue is worth talking about. There’s not a nanny in the world who does everything right. Even the most beloved nanny does things that annoy her employer. Even the most professional and conscientious nanny doesn’t do every task in the exact way her employer wants it done. So before you decide to talk with your nanny about an issue, decide how important it is to you. Is it a reasonable request? Is it likely the nanny will be able to meet your expectations? How will it affect the nanny/family relationship if the issue isn’t corrected? Just like in parenting, you have to pick your battles. There will be plenty of legitimate issues that come up between you and your nanny that will need to be addressed. Some issues, once you look at them more closely, are just pet peeves and personal preferences that don’t have a real impact on the quality of your nanny’s work. Those types of issues are often better left unaddressed. Of course, if it’s an issue that you simply can’t let go of, even if it’s just a small one, you should address it. Make sure that when you present it to your nanny, you let her know that you recognize it’s a small issue, but that it’s one that still bothers you. Acknowledgement goes a long way in this type of difficult conversation.
Give positive feedback along with negative feedback. No matter what the issue is, you can always find something good to say related to it. If your nanny is texting too much on the job, you could let her know that you love the fact that she has a strong support system, however, you’re concerned with the time she’s spending texting during work hours. If she’s not meeting your standards for organizing the play room, you could let her know that you appreciate all the time and effort she puts into keeping the play room organized, however, you’d like to talk about different ways of doing it so that it works for both of you. It’s always easier to hear something negative when it’s balanced with something positive.
Encourage your nanny to share her thoughts and feelings too. Rather than having a one-sided conversation where you and your nanny feel you’re telling her what she’s doing wrong, create an atmosphere that encourages an honest exchange. Ask your nanny how she feels about what you’ve shared. Give her the opportunity to share her perspective on the issue and listen with an open mind. Work together so that you are able to find solutions that work for both of you. Keeping the conversation friendly and supportive will strengthen your relationship with your nanny and raise the odds of a good resolution to the problem.
Follow-up. Having the first conversation and developing a plan of action for the future is just the first step in giving feedback. Set a time to come back together with your nanny and talk about how things are progressing. Review what you both agreed to, offer your ideas about the progress she’s made and ask for her input. Understand that it may take a few conversations before the nanny has made the changes you want. Make sure to acknowledge her effort and work with her to get to a place where you’re both happy with her performance.
Offering your nanny regular and honest feedback will help keep your employment relationship on track and will ensure the nanny continues to be successful in your position.