Being a better boss

4227C573-27A1-4C1C-8121-831533762711Okay, be honest, have you ever thought you could do a much better job than your boss?  I know I have (mentioning no names!).

A recent poll of 1,500 workers by giffgaff caught my attention. It found two-thirds of workers thought they would do a much better job than their boss.  With as many as one in five describing their boss as ‘hopeless’.

Let’s face it, being a boss – the person in charge – is never easy.  Many of us have found ourselves in this position, either by accident (or because no one else would do it).  In early years, this often is the case as staff, motivated by working with children, progress up the ranks and gather experience in terms of years and practice roles.  They then find themselves to be the senior worker, when others leave or retire.  It is not always an easy fit, and can be a frustrating role, as the tasks and challenges of being a boss can feel much less rewarding, and full of pitfalls.  And then you find you are surrounded by a team of people, two-thirds of which think they could do better than you.  It can feel very isolating.

But what can we learn from this finding and from our knowledge of the early years sector?

Well, I think it is important that settings have the right boss.  One that understands the importance of quality practice, and can manage the decisions around its delivery, whilst keeping on top of the day-to-day tasks any business manager has to deal with: income; expenditure; finance; planning; marketing; and people.  Trust me, these rare and special people do exist.  But this all takes planning; sometimes we need to grow our own bosses, and this is helped by open management approaches, and ongoing leadership, mentoring and coaching.  The more that is delegated earlier, the more team members can grow and develop their skills.  And if team members think they could do a better job, bosses should ask them how, and take on their views to drive decision-making and change.  This is really important, as in the same survey, more than half (54%) felt they had no prospect of career progression.  Approaches like this certainly help.  I’ve definitely been to many settings (and other businesses for that matter) where there feels like there’s a block at the top.  The boss that has been there for years, perhaps has lost some of their appetite for change, and staff have no option but to leave for the sake of their career progression in the sector, and often out of it.  If that is you, there are some hard choices to make, and some real change opportunities to grasp.  And if you are one of those thinking you could do a better job, then now is the time to act positively, support your boss, and be a better boss yourself.  Without such amazing entrepreneurial spirit, confidence and commitment, early years simply wouldn’t exist.  It’s what we are best at.

A version of this blog was first published in Teach Early Years Magazine.

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