How do the best managers in Early Years Management get to be the best managers? What is it that they do that makes them the best? Were they born that way, or did they learn through trial and error? And how can we emulate this if we have only just qualified as a manager?

The truth is, that barring the occasional child genius, most of us are not born an expert at anything, apart from crying, pooping and sleeping perhaps! But over the course of our childhood, adolescence, and adult life, we LEARN. It’s what we humans do – and we do it well. As we grow up, we learn how to master things step by step (literally sometimes) and eventually we can walk, run, and do somersaults!

Being a new manager in Early Years Management is much the same – there’s a learning curve that all of us go on and gaining a managerial qualification is usually just the start of the journey, not the end. In this article, we will look at what we can do as existing managers, to help our newly-qualified managers to make the most of their new qualifications, for the benefit of themselves and our settings.

Lead by example

It might sound simple, but one of the best ways to help others is to lead by example and to model the behaviours and aptitudes we are looking for. This might be by being open and approachable, or by developing more executive skills like event planning and/or risk management. By demonstrating attitudes and behaviours we would like to see, we signal sub-consciously and consciously to our newly-qualified staff that these are behaviours to aspire to.

Communicate well

Good communication is essential for a manager in Early Years Management, as it can mean the difference between co-operation and conflict, effective team building and isolation, and success and failure. Communicating well with newly-qualified managers means:

  • Listening fully to their ideas – after all, new people can bring new insights to tired problems and offer some blue-sky thinking to challenging situations
  • Ensuring that what is required is expressed clearly and without ambiguity
  • Developing diplomacy and tact so that mistakes can be openly discussed and learned from rather than becoming a centre for blame and negativity
  • Developing a collaborative approach that values discussion over dictatorship

Build a plan and give feedback on it

The Government has recently recognised the importance of additional support for newly-qualified teachers in schools and have extended the support that early career teachers (ECTs) get from their employers from one year to two. This insight has led to the development of frameworks that allow teachers time to reconnect with their basic training, devise personal action plans and receive feedback on them.

As early years practitioners, we can use these basic principles and apply them to our own newly-qualified managers too. This means sitting down with the managers, having a collaborative discussion about what the manager would like to work on, setting goals and targets, and then giving honest and constructive feedback to help them grow and develop and learn from any errors which may arise.

Support - mentors and buddies

Following on from the point above, you might consider buddying-up newly-qualified managers in Early Years Management with a suitable mentor who can guide them and steer them through difficult decisions with the benefit of their wisdom and experience. But it is not just enough to set people up with mentors, it also means allocating adequate time and resources to allow for discussions and reflections within the working day.

Continuing professional development and training (CPD)

Just because someone has recently qualified, does not mean that they will have all the skills and experience they need in their initial years and they will need to revise their training from time to time, adding to and developing their skillset. Allowing new managers time to develop their CPD will keep them feeling valued as employees and their skills up-to-date.

Training does not have to be lengthy and could range from an online course lasting a few hours, to extended training such as Level 5 qualifications which can take much longer to achieve. The point here is that managers in Early Years Management feel that there is somewhere else to go after their initial qualification and engagement in a position.

Parenta offers a number of cost-effective CPD training courses that can be accessed at https://cpd-elearning-courses.parenta.com/ which could be suitable for new managers. The following courses could be particularly useful to new managers although it would be best to liaise with the managers themselves to see where they feel they need extra help:

  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Discipline and grievance
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Interview skills
  • Managing conflict
  • Managing people
  • Performance management
  • Staff appraisal skills
  • Your personal development

You may also want to investigate the new National Professional Qualification in Early Years Leadership, or NPQEYL, which can provide an evidence-based scaffold for practitioners to keep getting better.

Freedom to make mistakes

All new managers need to understand that there will be times when they make mistakes and that this is part of the normal development process. Obviously, we don’t want those mistakes to lead to children being hurt or injured, but a healthy recognition that all learning involves some form of trial and error and learning from mistakes is important.

This will allow new managers more freedom to experiment with new ideas, evaluate the outcomes these ideas generate, and learn from the feedback they receive. The important thing here is that there is a supportive and collaborative approach offered by the employers and not a culture based on blame and recriminations.

Encourage delegation

One of the things within Early Years Management that many new managers find difficult is to delegate tasks to others. Often this is because they feel that they would do it better themselves, or that it would simply take too long to delegate tasks to others. However, part of the development of a new manager is helping them to learn to encourage and help other staff in their own personal learning journey.

Identify and support changing relationships

Sometimes new managers will need to address changing relationships that a promotion or new qualification/appointment creates. For example, two colleagues who have worked together at the same level for years, may suddenly find that one of them is now the line manager of the other. This has the potential for causing different problems if not identified and the changing relationship acknowledged and discussed. New Early Years managers may need their employers to support them through these transitions. The key here is communication and discussion so helping your new managers face up to these challenges is important.

Why not learn even more about taking the lead from one of our expert Guest Authors, Kayla Halls in her article: "Taking the lead: How to develop the skills of aspiring leaders in your setting." Click here to read more!


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