Inspire Parents To Follow Through

Leaders have shared their frustrations when dealing with parents who don’t follow through. Paper work is not completed, dry clothes are not brought in, or payments are late.

So what can you do?

1. Have the positive expectancy that people will follow through — be optimistic.

This is where it all begins. Just having the positive expectancy that people will follow through will be highly rewarding. First of all you’re not drenching yourself with negative expectations which usually only leads to negative results. And you’re opening up your creative channels, which allows you to take positive action and get positive results.

Once you have positive expectancy — you can implement a very powerful strategy that I call I look forward to. Let me explain how it works. One center I worked with was having a problem with late tuition payments. The Directors at this center did not like asking the parents for money or nagging them about their late payments. So I developed a memo that contained the following statement three times – I look forward to… This letter and this approach helped the Directors communicate positively and effectively with their parents. And yes this letter started with stating I look forward to and it ended with another reaffirming I look forward to and there was another one in the middle. The letter is filled with positive expectancy and it’s working great!

2. Communicate the importance of what you’re requesting with enthusiasm. This is an important step in getting people to follow through on your requests. If people aren’t aware of the importance of what you’re requesting from them, they will most likely procrastinate as long as they can. Even if they are aware of why their following through is so important, they may still procrastinate or simply forget. So communicate what you need in an enthusiastic way.

3. Positively acknowledge the correct behavior. During my keynote presentations and workshops I talk extensively about positively reinforcing our teams when they exhibit the behaviors we would like them to display more often. The same principles apply to parents or basically to anyone.

B.F. Skinner, the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that an animal positively reinforced for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retains what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior. Later studies have shown that the same applies to humans.

I challenge you to think about how you can positively reinforce those who follow through with the information you request. Some simple ideas may include providing candy or soda and chips when the requested information is received. Yes — I said this is simple but sometimes some of the simplest strategies (that only take a few minutes and a few cents) avail tremendous results.

Through using positive reinforcement, one director I worked with inspired parents to follow through on paper work that needed to be completed in a timely fashion.

The challenge was to get Spring paper work completed and returned in a timely fashion. She asked parents nicely – and there was no follow through. She posted notes up everywhere – and there was no follow through. She used “I statements” to express her frustration – and still no follow through.

But the situation was not hopeless – not yet anyways. She thought: “If positive reinforcement works with my team, it should also work with parents.” So instead of nagging and begging, she decided to positively acknowledge parents who followed through.

She created a bulletin board to publicly acknowledge all parents who met her deadline. Since it was nearing March, she created a clover board in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day. The board was located by the front door – so parents couldn’t miss it. It simply read “Thank You!” Then, as parents turned in the requested information before the deadline, their names were written on bright green clovers and posted up on the clover board for everyone to see. As names started accumulating – parents would stop, look, and read the names that were written on the clovers. Some parents noticed that their names weren’t on the board. This sparked their curiosity. They wanted a clover with their name on it! Parents began to ask the Director why only certain names were placed on the board. She told them why and shortly thereafter – she started getting completed paper work from all parents. What a great idea!

4. Put something in the envelope.
Another strategy to help increase follow through is to put something in the envelope — a fun token of your appreciation for their business. Perhaps a stress ball or a pen with your program’s name on it.

Another idea is to attach a piece of gum or another small incentive to the information you would like returned to you. One center that implemented this idea received twice as many completed forms back than normal. Also remember when mailing information, different sized envelopes and different color sheets of paper stand out more than regular mail and may yield a higher response rate.

Boosting Confidence In Your Child Care Program

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience
in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the
thing which you think you cannot do.” – - Eleanor Roosevelt

My 5-year-old nephew sat on my lap as he played his computer game. I watched and cheered him on as his points added up. He took delight in how many points he was scoring and loved that I was sharing in his success.

But in a minute – his excitement and delight quickly vanished as he approached one segment of the game. It was a new segment. One he had not triumphed over before. He quickly stated: you play now. He wanted me to take over for him because he thought he would fail. He said: I’m scared. He didn’t ask for help or want me to show him how to succeed in playing this new segment — he wanted me to take over.

Do you ever feel like your staff wants you to take over when things get too hard or too challenging? What do you do? Do you jump right in and solve the problem or take care of the issue?

I thought about what I should with my nephew for a minute. I’ve seen him fail before and it’s not a pretty sight. When he loses a game he cries and gets upset with the people he’s playing with. Sometime he states: I don’t like her anymore!Yes, he even says: I hate her! Ouch. His logic is overcome by emotion. No, not an experience I enjoy.

But I also realize if I don’t encourage him to try, and if I don’t resist taking over for him he will not gain the experience of accomplishing a new success, a success that will increase his confidence. He will give up when it comes to that part of the game. He will think: I can’t do that. And if I take over for him I’m saying: You’re right – you can’t do that. Let me do it.

So I encourage him to give it a try. He sits nervously on my lap and agrees to give it a shot. He experiences some new successes and yes, some failed attempts. With each failed attempt he’s one step closer to experiencing a new success. We agree to play again tomorrow and go one step further in the game. Maybe it will be the day we break down the brick barricade and save the princess!

CommunicatingWithGracesmallerv1Sometimes adults need a little push, a little encouragement to give a new experience a try. Perhaps some of your staff could use a push to participate in the team building activity at a staff meeting; or encouragement to speak directly to a peer about a problem they’re facing. Perhaps some staff members would gain more confidence if they thought about solutions to their challenges instead of expecting you to provide them. And maybe some staff would benefit from being included in resolving a difficult issue with a parent.

Although they may experience some failed attempts — they’ll be one step closer to experiencing a new success. And each new success adds up to increased self-confidence.

Please leave your comments on this topic below. I’d love to hear from you!

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 Leadership: Customer Loyalty In Your Child Care Program

“In spite of my efforts to try to make my customers feel like I care and that my organization is a wonderful place for children and their families, I still have parents who spread negative gossip or they just leave my child care program without giving any notice.”

Can you relate to this statement? This is one common feeling that child care leaders have shared with me about the topic of customer loyalty. The challenge is that, as a child care leader, you are dealing with many different perspectives of your child care program. You have your perspective, your staff’s perspective, the children’s perspective and the parent’s perspective. Everyone’s perspective is reality to them – and that’s why building customer loyalty can be a tough objective in your child care program.

Our guest, JoAnna Brandi, shares her perspective as a parent about a child care program her daughter was enrolled in many years ago. Is her perspective right? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s hers and it’s important to understand what made her scared at times to pick up her child — especially on the days she was running late. JoAnna shares many fantastic strategies that you can implement immediately to help you build customer loyalty.

|image3|JoAnna Brandi is the Publisher of the Customer Care Coach® a weekly leadership training program for customer-focused culture change. She has been President of JoAnna Brandi & Company for the last 17 years. Prior to starting her own company she was the Director of Direct Marketing Services, a division of CMP Media in NY. She is author of three books, “Winning at Customer Retention, 101 Ways to Keep ‘em Happy, Keep ‘em Loyal, and Keep ‘em Coming Back”, “54 Ways to Stay Positive in a Changing, Challenging and Sometimes Negative World”, and “Building Customer Loyalty — 21 Essential Elements in Action.”

Access this audio program today. Click here.

Are you a part of the gossip?

When your staff thinks that you are a part of the gossip it creates a huge communication barrier between you and your staff and between co-workers. Here are a few ways that leaders become part of the gossip chain.

What do you do when a staff member approaches you with a story about one of the parents or negative feelings about a co-worker?

Many leaders get pulled into the gossip and listen intently to what the staff person is staying not realizing the harmful impact that this type of communication can have on morale. Some leaders feel that this sort of gossip and hearsay is a good way to find out information about people in their child care program and may even encourage staff members to share the stories and gossip with them so they can stay on top of it.

At other times leaders may listen to the hearsay and then take it one step further by trying to get to the bottom of situations by not only listening to hearsay from one staff member but then they go and ask other staff members about their opinions on the hearsay.

The problem is that much of a leader’s time can be consumed by investigating who said what about who. Additionally – - – this style of communication sends a message that this method of dealing with issues is accepted as opposed to staff members resolving issues positively and directly. Remember the saying: Our actions speak louder than our words. So regardless of how you tell your staff they should communicate and act, what you do is the more powerful protocol for how they will communicate and behave.

The bottom line is that you need to know if a child is being abused or if someone else is immediate danger but for the most part listening to who did what to who is a waste of time.

Please share your thoughts and comments!

Listen in to our workplace gossip conference call. Click here.

Child Care Leadership Training For Directors and Owners

How would you like a step-by-step plan of action to help you manage, motivate and retain great staff in your child care program?

This plan of action has helped countless leaders:

*Boost morale in minutes without spending a buck
*Eliminate workplace gossip
*Facilitate staff meetings that sizzle
*Inspire team members to make behavior changes
*Have more time
*Increase professionalism
*Motivate team members to reach new goals

Does this plan of action interest you?

What if you could get this plan of action without having to leave the comfort of your home or workplace?

What if this plan of action was FREE?

The great news is – - – you can get this plan of action for FREE this August.

You’re Invited!

Come and get your plan of action to help you manage, motivate and retain great staff for FREE this August by participating in a live teleconference and/or web cast hosted by Julie Bartkus. You decide how you want to participate via the telephone, computer or both! No special equipment is required to attend.

Julie Bartkus has been working with child care teams for over a decade helping them become positive, productive and overall dynamic. She has established 2 companies (Motivate Teachers and the Leadership Connection) to help child care leaders manage, motivate and retain great staff.

For more information visit

Boost Morale in the Bathroom

Did you ever think that the bathroom is a great place to boost morale in minutes? Well, in my working with teams I’ve discovered many ways that leaders can boost morale in minutes – - – in the bathroom!

Since the bathroom is a place that’s visited several times a day by your staff consider creating a special bulletin board for funny stories. As team members visit the bathroom they can post funny things that are happening in their day and read about the funny stuff that’s happening in other classrooms.

Here’s another idea:

I’ll share more ideas with you about boosting morale in the bathroom in future tips. If you have an idea to share, please post it here!

NAEYC – new standards

Gain support, information and inspiration about the new NAEYC Accreditation Standards as Kim McClennahan Means, Senior Director, NAEYC Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation joins us for a one hour conference call.

Listen in now. Click Here!

Questions answered during our conference call include:

*How do you keep staff’s focus on the goal of accreditation?

*What improvements have been made compared to the old system?

*What are there new changes that will occur this September 2007?

*Why have the costs increased so much over the time that this program has been in existence?

*How will the day of the visit go?

*How can I prepare teaching staff and children for the Assessor’s visit?

*What have accredited centers struggled most with to become NAEYC accredited?

*Why do the assessors spend so little time in the classrooms? It seems that the new system places more focus on paperwork rather than on interactions between teachers and students.

*How have the site visits been going for those programs already being reaccredited to the new standards?

*Why should a program pursue Candidacy if it knows it will not be able to meet the Teaching Staff Educational Requirements Criteria by the time of the visit? Even factoring in meeting 80% of the Standards, many programs know they will not be able to meet the criteria but are still being told to become candidates. Isn’t this setting a program up to fail? *How can community based child care best help individuals staff gain access to college level work for professional development when wages are so low? *Will there be any more workshops on using the new system?

*We have received NAEYC accreditation in the past, and our status expires in 8/07. My understanding is that you have to completely meet all the criteria to achieve accreditation with the new standards. Is that true?

*How do the new standards directly affect lab schools that have students in their programs? *What if I cannot get management to help the teachers prepare for the accreditation? (I am a teacher that wants to get ready for the accreditation). *What is the thinking behind having all staff produce a health evaluation every 2 years? The way I read the criterion, the only information it must contain is immunization status [not likely to change] and an evaluation that states if an employee is physically and emotionally up to the job. What do you do if the doctor says they are not? With the TB testing removed, what is the value of this criterion? Who pays for the physical if they choose not to take our health insurance?

*How will NAEYC be looking at emerging practices as far as seeking input from accredited centers, etc.?

*Do all assistant teachers need to be enrolled in classes?

*What ideas do you have for seasoned providers who are still providing quality care to meet the qualification standards when they haven’t attended school in many years and are frightened at the thought, and when you live in a remote area where taking classes means at least a 150 mile drive and online classes seem quite expensive, not to mention some have very limited computer skills?

*Is there a training tool available to share information on the “new” NAEYC Accreditation (the four step process and also the standards themselves) with staff (especially new hires) as well as families, Board members, community partners, etc?

*The timeline for teacher/director educational qualifications…how realistic do you really think these goals are for full time working individuals who are supporting, or helping to support, families, especially when salaries will not match the cost of (both money and time) going back to school?

*How can you be accredited if the center is not ready? The management is not helping the teachers to start the process and we, the teachers have been asking for materials?

*I know that the assessors will look at computer-generated criteria. Will the criteria be the same for every classroom observed or is a unique set of criteria generated for each classroom?

*When beginning the self-study process, where do you start? The observation forms are so overwhelming, there is no longer a pre-survey for staff or parents and I do not find any guidance in any of the materials that points you in the right direction…am I not looking in the right place?