In preschool, you are working closely with the same people all day every day. Conflicts are inevitable, but they can be beneficial, too, when handled well. If a conflict with preschool staff is handled well it can promote creativity, change, and progress. How you deal with preschool staff conflicts will effect your entire preschool program. Here are some things to keep in mind when addressing staff conflicts.
Open and honest communication is absolutely essential in any workplace, especially when working in a classroom. When staff feel comfortable communicating openly with each other conflicts are able to be resolved on a daily basis. This is possible because when staff are able to communicate openly they are more likely to express their frustrations when they start and not let them grow.
FIND THE CORE CAUSE
It is impossible to do any problem solving if you do not know what the real problem is. Often times, the problem is deeper than it appears at first. It is important to find the initial source of conflict to be able to move forward.
ASSESS THE SITUATION
Once you are aware of a staff conflict, you need to observe first hand what is going on. After that, the best way to get the full picture of what is going on is to let the staff members involved in the conflict express themselves. Do this individually at first. Later, you can bring them together to guide them through their own discussion of what has been happening.
HELP THEM FIND A SOLUTION
When you are working with your preschoolers you do not jump right in and provide them with solutions to their problems. Don’t do that with staff conflicts either. Let them come up with their own solutions. You can help guide them there, but it will be a lot more beneficial to both parties if they are able to work together on a solution that works for everyone.
Team building exercises won’t necessarily help solve current staff conflicts, but it helps staff to better relate to each other and have empathy, which can help in avoiding conflicts. While going to an exciting team building retreat is fun, it isn’t the only effective team building method for preschool staff. Team building can be any activity that preschool staff participate in together, and especially if it requires cooperation and teamwork.
Instead, find ways to work team building into the regular preschool routine. For example, you can create an area in the break room for staff to share activity ideas, teaching tips, and other resources that they have found useful. Another great team building exercise that can be built into preschool is creating something like a Secret Santa, but instead of giving gifts, staff members look out for the person they are paired with. They notice what that person is needing help or support with, and then help them with it in whatever way they can.
The ability to support and guide preschool staff through their conflicts quickly and effectively is not only important to your staff turnover rate and the happiness of your staff, but also the quality of your program. When teachers and staff are happy with their work environment, they perform better and that benefits everyone.