A teacher asked: Why Do I need to change?

During our last Team Building Tuesday a question came up that I wanted to share with you just in case you missed our live conference call.

The question came from a child care leader who was met with resistance from a teacher who saw no reason to change or get more training.

Here is my response. Simply click > to begin playing.

Please leave your reply below and remember to join us next Tuesday for Team Building Tuesdays at http://www.LCforCC.com.


Transitioning from work to home

Yes, it is a challenge to mentally transition from work to home. Listed below are several strategies that will help you to leave your work at work so you can have more mental and physical energy to invest in your personal life.

1) Make a to do list for the following day before your work day ends. If you have a planner, use it; otherwise, a piece of paper will do the trick. Before you end your workday, write down all the things you have to get done the following day. If you choose to do this consistently, you will experience a load being shifted from your mind onto a piece of paper. You’ll experience less stress, frustration, and anxiety.

2) Practice a transitional activity. Once your workday ends, find an activity that you can engage in that requires focus and allows no time for other thoughts. Examples of transitional activities include exercise, meditation, reading, etc.

3) Journal about your day. This is a powerful tool. Write about your day, including the good and bad. Once again a ton of stress, frustration, and anxiety will be lifted from your mind.

4) Make the decision to leave work at work. I’ll never forget a statement Les Brown made during one of his motivational speeches. Les stated that we can’t control what thoughts pop into our minds — but we can control what thoughts we dwell on. Choose to dwell on positive, motivating thoughts!

Child Care Teacher Wanted: Attract The Very Best

“Child care teacher needed!

We offer competitive benefits and wages.”

Every week I see this same help wanted ad in the newspaper. The ad then lists the program’s contact information. I see this ad so often I wonder why this child care program is always looking for help. I doubt if it’s because the ad doesn’t generate any response. I think it does otherwise I couldn’t imagine why they would run the ad so often in the same publication. As you know, it’s expensive to continuously run an ad. It’s a small local program so I doubt if it’s because they’re growing and expanding. My guesses are: there’s a lot of turnover going on, there’s a lack of interest in the position after the interview, or perhaps the candidates that the ad attracts are simply not right for the position.

Have you ever wondered why some programs have no difficultly attracting top-notch candidates to work in their child care programs while others struggle to fill positions for what seems like endless periods of time? Have you ever wondered what it takes to attract the very best candidates to work in your child care program? If you’ve answered yes, keep reading because I’m going to share with you one of the most powerful recruiting strategies for leaders in the child care industry.

What does it take to attract the very best child care professionals to work for my program? This question comes up often during my Motivate Teachers Retreats for leaders in the child care industry. When it comes up, so does one answer that is highly correlated with attracting and retaining great staff. Care to take a guess at what it is? Well, if you guessed money, you’re right. Many leaders share with me their feelings of: If only I could pay my staff more money, I would have less turnover and attract the very best candidates to work in my child care program.

It’s true that salary is one component of attracting the very best candidates, but it’s not the most important. By this I mean if all of the child care programs in your area offer pretty much the same salary and benefits (“competitive salary and benefits”) you will not necessarily attract the very best staff by offering more money to potential candidates.

One director recently shared her realization with me. She said that initially she thought that if she built the nicest facility with the best equipment and offered her staff wages higher than the average in her area she would have a winning formula. But after several years in business she still struggles with attracting and retaining good staff, let alone the very best. This is only one story out of thousands of stories directors have shared with me. Many are left confused as to why their efforts failed but yet with a greater understanding that something else is required to attract and retain the very best.

What’s the key? There are several vital keys to attracting the very best. To summarize the vital keys into one major key I’ll just write the words — word of mouth advertising. Word of mouth is a powerful force that I’ve seen propel programs and businesses to the next level of success when it’s positive and cause them to collapse when it’s negative.

There are 4 components of word of mouth advertising that are critical for a child care director to consider. They include the type of word of mouth advertising that is passed around by previous and current staff as well as previous and current clients.

The most powerful recruiting strategy is when your previous and current staff along with your previous and current parents spread the positive word around about you and your program. This is incredibly powerful so please don’t overlook it. One supervisor shared with me that through tapping into this power she now has a stack of current resumes on file that she can go through whenever she needs a new staff member. She receives many calls from potential candidates each day asking if she’s hiring and to please consider them for employment. She never has to place a help wanted ad because the positive word is out!

Now at some point in your life, I’m sure you’ve felt the power of word of mouth advertising. Perhaps you’ve even helped pass it around. Many can relate to going to a restaurant and receiving bad service. And many people who receive that bad service will tell everyone they know not to ever step foot in “that place.” That’s right, I’m talking about negative word of mouth advertising. And on the other hand, many can relate to going to a restaurant and having a good experience. When I survey my audiences most will admit that they still pass around the positive word but not nearly as often as they pass around the negative. The reality is — negative word of mouth spreads farther and faster than positive word of mouth.

Your previous staff members have the opportunity to share many details of their experience in working for you and with your program. If they felt they were treated fairly and the program provided quality care they will most likely dwell on those factors in their conversations with others. But on the other hand if they leave their position feeling negative they will most often exaggerate their negative experiences and tell many people in the process — yes, negative word of mouth advertising.

Many child care professionals have shared with me their feelings about the child care program they worked for. One stated that she would never advise anyone to trust their children in the care of the program she worked for. She stated that communication was destructive and the leader didn’t do anything when destructive gossip was out of control. Conflicts and issues were not resolved and team morale was low. She didn’t necessarily explain her reasoning every time she made the statement: I wouldn’t advise anyone to send their children there! This child care professional had an amazing enthusiasm for the child care profession before she started working for this program. Unfortunately, this one bad experience led her to the decision that the child care industry was not the place for her. She viewed it as unprofessional and wanted something more for her professional life. Needless to say this was a person who knew how much money the child care industry offered and it didn’t matter because she wanted to be a part of it and make a difference in the lives of the children. It was her passion. She quit her position and is now working in the public school system. Although I did not work with this center, I did learn that they were always looking for new teachers; turnover was very high. Within a couple years of my conversation with the teacher who had the bad experience, the center was forced to close down.

Another child care professional stated this about the program she was currently working for: I wouldn’t send my dog there! Why such as a harsh statement I asked? Mostly because of the destructive communication patterns that were rabid.

On the bright side, if you have a staff member who quits their position within your program and they leave with good feelings they have the power to positively impact potential candidates and clients. Let’s say this person moves on to another industry and shines in their position. Their manager may take notice and is thrilled with how professional this person is and how their communication skills are amazing. He also takes note of this person’s ability to stay calm under pressure. He then asks his employee how she developed these skills. She replies by saying that these skills were acquired through working for you in your child care program. He thinks to himself: If they train staff so well there imagine what they must do for the children. And that positive word of mouth is spread. There are so many examples I could share with you, but I’m hoping you get the idea.

Here’s one more example. You have an open position. You advertise for it and get some good candidates to respond to your ad. There’s one candidate you interview and really like. The next step is for that candidate to meet with other teachers. She comes in for the morning to spend time with your staff. Some staff members ignore her while they go about their routines. Others include her in on the gossip and the dos and the don’ts of your program. When her time visiting your program has concluded she leaves without a word. You try to call her later but she doesn’t return your call. For some reason she lost interest. Hmm…

Next week I’ll share with you some specific strategies on how you can create positive word of mouth advertising for your program.

Love to read your comments! Please post them below.

A Simple Note of Thanks

I just received an email from a colleague of mine who shared the thanks that her and her husband share everyday on September 11th. She said that it’s a special day for them because he was one of the lucky people who made it out of the World Trade Center and they never want to forget how blessed they truly are.

I remember the day well. Sitting in my office thinking about my next leadership retreat when there it was on the TV. I’m sure you have the images etched in your mind just as vividly as I do.

I remember hearing the stories of bravery and teamwork and of people just doing whatever it took to help one another out. There was a story about a child care center whose teachers saved all the children inside by exiting quickly. It didn’t matter that they were wearing their paper slippers and had to walk over broken glass – they got the children out of there and to safety.

When I reflect on these stories I’m reminded of the miracles that happen in tragic situations and how today in spite of circumstances that are going on within your program or hardships that you’re facing, miracles will happen, people will go the extra mile and you will accomplish amazing things.

I continue to be inspired by those of you who I have met and those of you who are passionate about motivating and inspiring “the future.” Thank you for allowing me to walk along side of you as you accomplish some extraordinary feats.

Committed to your success,

Julie Bartkus

PS: PLEASE share your replies/comments/stories below.

Child Care Leaders: No Time To Breathe?

No Time To Breathe?

angry2Have you ever had that feeling where you literally feel like you can’t slow down enough to take a long breath? Especially right now – more than ever – it might feel like you’re racking your brain and consumed with trying to make your program a success. I just got off of the phone with a program director who said: I can’t slow down enough to even take a look at systems and tools that may help me have more time in my day! I assured her she was not alone.

There are so many things to do, right? Hiring staff, firing staff, motivating staff, completing paperwork, lesson plans, marketing… And you have to squeeze lunch in there somewhere. What’s on your list?

Recently I had the opportunity to listen in to a conference call where a woman by the name of Nicole Dean was speaking about outsourcing. She made a key point that stuck in my head so I thought I would share it with you. She said when striving to manage your time more effectively you should first think about automating processes and then delegating.

I began thinking about that word automating. What can I automate? Then it hit me that there are so many things that I do that I can set up systems for so that things that used to be a burden are handled effortlessly and easily. Here’s a simple example. Handling the mail. What used to happen is that there was a large bin in my office where the daily mail accumulated. So at the end of the month I would take an hour (or delegate the task) and sort through the monstrous pile. Now I automated the process where I have a few different paper holders nailed up to my wall. One is strictly for bills, another is for bank statements, etc. So when the mail comes in I put the items where they go. Some mangers automate the hiring process by using a pre-screening tool to help them quickly identify top candidates instead of manually sorting through a gigantic pile of papers.

After you automate as much as you possibly can the next thing to think about is delegation. What can you delegate? Here’s another wise piece of advice from Ms. Dean. Delegate what’s in your way of your accomplishing what only you can accomplish to achieve a goal or success. So what’s in your way of you achieving greater levels of success? For me, it’s things like bookkeeping or website changes and yes, even handling customer service issues at the Leadership Connection. Sometimes I get fearful to fully delegate those things out – but they do hold me back from finishing my books and further developing my products and workshops to help out this wonderful group of people in the child care industry.

Many leaders have shared with me how they’re fearful to delegate the writing of their newsletter to their staff or other small tasks that takes their focus off of doing the real high pay-off activities that only they can accomplish.

What are the things that are hard for you to let go of?

In closing I would just like to share with you a story about a teacher I met when I first started speaking. The principal of the school raved about this teacher and how he turned his class of low performing students into top-achievers. The same actions he implemented can also work in helping you inspire your team to become top-performers. So what did he do? One simple word – - DELEGATE. After he changed up the appearance of his classroom by adding Christmas lights and bringing in sofas and comfy chairs for his students he began delegating his work. The first task he delegated was entering grades into the grade book. Then he delegated taking attendance and then a student was put in charge of the bathroom pass. He said that positions were earned and it was a huge motivating factor. Yes, new challenges are motivators! Students felt that their teacher was someone who truly believes in them and they felt empowered to be a part of their classroom’s overall success.

Remember today to breathe and think about what you can automate and delegate. Still thinking to yourself: Who has time? My last piece of advice is that sometimes it’s crucial to take a step or two backwards so you can make quantum leaps forward.

Please leave a reply below. I want to hear from you!

Giving Your Staff Feedback: Sugar and Sandwiches

FeedbacksmallerThe ability to get and give feedback is a practice that can propel your organization to reach new heights. However, there are many ineffective methods that leaders implement when trying to get and give feedback.

Here are a couple for you to consider. It’s kind of funny that they both have to do with food – sugar and sandwiches!

I’ll share with you the ineffective method of sugar coating first. Many times, leaders with their big hearts say to themselves: “Oh, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so I won’t be as blunt as I should be” or “Today is not a good day to share that information because of the way she will react.” It’s important to understand that although your intent is good when you sugar coat feedback – - it is a dangerous style of communication, especially if there are behavioral issues that NEED to be addressed. When you sugar coat things, the employee gets the impression that everything is wonderful and dandy. And in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “Oh, my gosh! I wish they would change this. I wish they would do this differently. Why can’t they stop this?”

There are also potential legal issues that you have to be careful of. Imagine a situation where you have an employee who really needs to make behavioral changes. You provide them with feedback. You don’t quite want to tell it to them like it is, so you sugar coat it. That’s documented. Then later on, things get worse and worse and worse. You keep sugar coating until one day you just fire the person. There have been law suits filed against employers where there’s not proper documentation in place to show that this employee was exhibiting poor behaviors and then given the opportunity to make constructive change happen. So be very careful with the nature of your conversations and how you’re giving that feedback. Think twice before you sugar coat things. Also remember, when you sugar coat, you’re also cheating your employees out of the opportunity to make constructive change happen.

Now let’s move on to sandwiches. The other thing I’d like to caution you about when looking at giving feedback is the Sandwich Technique. Do you know what this is? The Sandwich Technique is a method of communication. You start off on a positive note, put the constructive stuff (negative feedback) in the middle and then finish on a positive note. On one of our audio programs at the Leadership Connection, Dr. Aubrey Daniels joined us. The issue was titled Positively Reinforcing Staff. He shared how the Sandwich Technique can really leave people feeling confused. They may walk away not really knowing if your message was positive or negative and unclear about the change you’re recommending. This means when the Sandwich Technique is used to provide feedback, the message that we need the person to hear isn’t heard.

Ease up on sugar and sandwiches and not only will you lose weight, you’ll also take a load off of your mind through communicating directly and giving your staff the feedback that they need to hear to make constructive change happen.

Best Advertising For Your Child Care Program

It’s true that word of mouth advertising is the best way to attract clientele and great staff to work in your child care program.

The unfortunate part is sometimes waiting for the positive word of mouth to spread can take awhile. And it still may not help you get the “expert” status you deserve.

Would you like a way to get the positive word of mouth out about you and your child care program in a big way?


If you want to increase your “expert status” and get the word out there about you and your child care program don’t miss out on the opportunity to be a guest on the Leadership Connection Radio Program. I am launching this radio program next month and our target audience will be the parents!!

I am sending you this exclusive invitation to be a guest on the program. Yes – -FREE AIRTIME. YES – - a promotional opportunity for you. This is something you can do right from the comfort of your home or office.

Here’s how to take advantage of this advertising opportunity for you and your program:


Here’s to your success,

Julie Bartkus

Leave Them Talking About Your Child Care Program

“Leave them talking” is a concept that I love to discuss because there are so many little, easy things you can do with your staff that will leave them feeling compelled to talk about it for days, weeks and sometimes for years to come. No joke – this can really happen!

These little things are things that inspire positive feelings and are so out of the ordinary it’s fun to talk about them. It’s a “must share” moment. The great thing is once you create these moments for your staff the positive talk about them will counteract or override the negative chit chat that may be circulating.

What are some things that you can do that would leave them talking?

Here’s a personal example that you can easily incorporate into your program. I got married just about a year ago. Tom and I wanted to do something that my niece Amber and our son Mason would remember for their entire lives as a celebration of them standing up for us at our wedding. So we decided to go to a famous restaurant known for their pies and order every single piece of pie on the menu.

Mason and Amber did not know we were going to do this so when the waiter asked what kind of pie we would like I responded with: “It’s tough to make a decision. I think we’ll have one of each. And four glasses of milk!”

Amber and Mason looked at me like I was crazy and the waiter needed me to repeat what I just said. Then he brought out all of the pieces of pie that his tray could hold. He set them on the table one by one and looked at me and said: “I guess I’ll go and get more pie.” We said great!

Mason was very quick to put the piece of chocolate cream pie in front of him and we all started sampling the different pieces.

Before we knew it the manager was at our table and several other waiters were peering in our direction. Additionally – the customers were watching us having a blast sampling all sorts of pie. Before the evening concluded we voted on our favorite pie and went back several times to order it. It was the apple cheesecake (okay not a pie – not technically anyway).

We sampled close to 30 pieces and created an experience that we’ll never forget and most likely never have again.

There’s my niece, Amber. My son, Mason and amazing husband, Tom.

My challenge for you this week is to think about one idea that will leave them talking. Have fun!

Please share your comments below.

Child Care Conferences

Child Care Conferences

Imagine if you could pick the topic you were most interested in learning about at a child care conference and then be able to schedule your learning at a time that is convenient for you. No worries about what sessions you would have to decide between or how you can share the information with your staff.

It wouldn’t matter what you were wearing because the conference would come to you at a time and location that best suited your needs and schedule.

The great news is that today this type of learning is possible. Thanks to the Leadership Connection for child care professionals you can now discover over 70 topics to help you manage, motivate and retain great staff in your child care program.

Topics range from Stress Management to Eliminating Gossip to Competitive Benefits and Wages.

All you have to do is visit the Leadership Connection’s website at http://www.lcforcc.com and decide what information you would like to learn first, second and third. Then for less than what you would pay for one conference registration you can continue your education by listening to however many sessions you feel you would gain value from.

Additionally – – your entire staff can listen in to whatever sessions you feel would best support them in their roles. Topics such as: Customer Service, Engaging Men in Child Care or Going Green.

The possibilities are really endless and affordable!


You also have the same (or better!) networking benefits through the Leadership Connection’s discussion forum. The director’s forums are a great place for you to share your challenges and get solutions to the problems you’re currently facing. Whether you’re dealing with cell phones at work or other inappropriate behaviors solutions are truly at your fingertips with the Leadership Connection for child care professionals.

Visit the Leadership Connection today.