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 Going Down In Flames
 
Caregivers of all types experience burnout.  Doctors and nurses frequently abuse the medications to which they have access as a result of burnout.  Military personnel and law officers have high incidents of suicide as a result of burnout.  In early childhood education burnout is often expressed as anger at a child. 
 
Over the past 20 years some of the memorable burnouts we've seen include the teacher that threw a block across the room hitting a child in the forehead with the block; in another case the teacher took her shoe off and threw it at the child striking the child in the face and perhaps the gold medal of burnout goes to the teacher that grabbed a child's face and threatened to kill the girl.
 
The topic of burnout does not seem to get much attention from directors and owners in early childhood education.  I suspect the lack of attention is due to the difficulty in keeping adequate staffing levels, recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training new teachers.  Due to all the hurdles you must jump over in getting staff on board it is easier to "not see” the teacher that can no longer function in your school.

Handling Emotional Responses To A Disciplinary Interview

Last week we discussed the need for compliant employees in a strong business. It is also true that business owners do not particularly like disciplining their employees. The emotional reaction of the employee is part of the reason we do not like carrying out discipline. This week we will examine the types of emotional responses you might see and how you can effectively handle them.
 
Some employees respond to discipline with hostility. The hostility will express itself as anger and/or resentment. As unpleasant as it is to sit through someone spewing their anger at you, the solution to this reaction is to wait it out. After the employee is done spewing, I suggest you calmly bring the interview back on track by asking an open-ended question such as, "how do you propose we resolve this issue?"
 
Other employees respond to discipline with defensiveness. This type of employee has an excuse for everything, whether the issue is performance or attitude based. In this interview make notes of the employee's excuses and then ask open-ended questions such as, "I don't think I understand. How does Mrs. Smith's car contribute to your being late?"
 
With yet other employees you will be met with insincerity. This is the employee that consistently appears to accept your feedback, tells you they will make the needed changes, but then never follows through. These employees are managed efficiently by the consistent application of your progressive discipline policy. (If you would like to receive a sample progressive discipline policy, email your request to beth@blockinsurance.net.)

Conducting The Disciplinary Interview

We all have heard the Mom Wisdom: you have to eat your vegetables to grow up strong.  In the arena of business management, disciplining employees is the vegetable.  Businesses that have employees that follow the rules and have good attitudes are strong; businesses with employees that dance to their own tune are fundamentally weak.
 
In order to change the environment in a business that has allowed employees to call the tune, it is important to set expectations and enforce the expectations.  This week we will focus on conducting a disciplinary interview.  These meetings occur when the employee has already violated the rules.
 
The first step is preparation.  This preparation will include scripting the interview.  Your script should include:

Motivating The Majority of Employees

Bob Dylan's lyrics, "clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you", seem to fit many workplaces. According to many leadership studies, 20% of all workers are self-motivated achievers. Another 20% are marginal and do not set goals; or if they do, the goal is not going ton stretch them enough to achieve any meaningful results.

This leaves 60% of all workers looking to management for motivation. Typical management on America is focusing on the bottom 20% instead of focusing on the middle 60%. I think our efforts are much better spent on the 60%.

In order to make a meaningful difference with that 60% you must develop a leadership style that will be seen as sincere. Traits that have shown real results for others include:

Leading By Example - Maintain organization with your responsibilities, share with your staff when you are getting additional training, admit when you make a mistake and share how you are fixing the mistake.

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