This post is part of our series that covers all the basics you need to create or update your program's administrative paperwork. Read more at 7 Child Care Forms You Need To Run A Better Business.
Conducting staff evaluations presents an important opportunity for a child care center. Structured conversations with staff about their performance help everyone by outlining a clear path for improvement and reiterating how critical each person is to the success of your program.
In short, regular evaluations help your workplace be the best it can be and help employees feel connected to their work. This will benefit everything from day-to-day operations to long-term employee retention. And it all starts with your child care staff evaluation forms.
Using staff evaluation forms lays the groundwork for a successful performance assessment, ensuring that, together, you create the best child care center experience for parents and children.
Use comprehensive child care staff evaluation formsYour staff evaluations should cover all responsibilities of a staff member's role. Think about each of the areas you might refer to in a job posting and make a section for questions pertaining to each of them:
Although it will make your evaluation process more time-consuming, discussing the whole range of an employee's work keeps you focused on the gold standard of performance for your center. Your staff should know exactly what is expected from them and how they'll be assessed on it.
It also ensures that you're providing a fair evaluation of your staff and their work. Child care centers require an all-hands-on-deck approach, and thinking through every type of work an employee does allows you to account for their efforts and see their true strengths and weaknesses. This makes you a better manager, one who is able to show respect for your employees' work and for their developing careers. According to the Harvard Business Review, this is a critical part of being a leader, and one that improves the conditions of your workplace.
Give staff self-evaluation forms
In addition to filling out assessments for your staff, let staff fill out self-evaluations. From a management perspective, self- evaluations can provide valuable insight on employee's work habits and personality. Performance review experts at Lattice pinpoint self-evaluations as a key part of any feedback cycle. They “help employees internalize what they are good at and how they can improve, ...[and] show not only how open the employee is to change and growth, but how much they understand about their own performance.”
From an employee's perspective, self-evaluations provide valuable time to reflect on their performance. In the early childhood education field, there is no shortage of things to be done every day. Carving out space for self-evaluation helps your employees improve.
Self-evaluation forms should ask about all of the same things as your staff evaluation forms. Give employees a scale of 1-5 to answer questions, as it prompts more thought about their level of performance. In addition, ask employees to identify their greatest strengths and biggest areas of growth at the end of their self-evaluations. Give staff guidelines on what they should write at the end of their self-evaluations to empower staff to recognize their own strengths. Encourage staff to praise themselves and stress it will not be seen as bragging, for example.
To use self-evaluations effectively, compare them to manager assessments. Any discrepancies can reveal blind spots for staff and managers that provide a valuable opportunity to sync. If a staff member feels they're not performing well in an area you think they are, that can be a great time to boost confidence and empower staff. If you feel they're underperforming and they feel they're doing well, you can take the opportunity to go over their routines and approaches to see where problems may lie.
Use your child care staff evaluation forms regularlyChild care centers should aim to evaluate staff multiple times a year — every quarter or at the end of every session. Regular child care staff evaluations:
- Optimize your workplace for improvements by bringing up any areas for improvement as they emerge.
- Make for a more positive workplace where staff get feedback and valuable 1:1 face time with their manager to address any concerns.
- Build a supportive environment for your employees to develop and bring new ideas to the table, strengthening your program overall.
Keep in mind that there may be legal regulations determining how often you have to evaluate your facility and staff set by your state or country. For example, Pennsylvania specifies that the director of a child care center must provide a written evaluation for staff members once per year, minimum. Follow regulations, but consider adding in more evaluations if you are only required to assess annually or semi-annually.
You don't need to wait for a formal evaluation to pull out an evaluation form, either. Since they outline expectations for workplace performance and incorporate your philosophy on running a child care center, you can and should consult evaluations as a team to keep everyone focused on your goals. This might happen if you introduce a change in your protocols, review wins from your last session, or revisit your hiring materials, for example.
For staff, their personal evaluation forms should be readily accessible to them. They can use their past evaluations to keep an eye on their personal development goals.
Revisit staff evaluations on a regular basis
One of the best ways to show your staff you are attuned to their development and appreciative of their work is to revisit their previous staff evaluations at your next performance review. Bring up specific areas where you've seen improvement and reference the goals that you made in your prior evaluations. Note areas in which employees continue to excel.
Not only will this demonstrate that you care about your employees' development, it will increase accountability for your employees. Rather than a goal being something they discuss with a manager that falls to the wayside of their daily tasks, it will become a useful tool for them to improve their work for the better.
Exceed your goals
Every owner or manager of a child care center wants to make their workplace the best it can be for the children in their care and for their employees — which is easier said than done. Child care forms, especially staff evaluation forms, are a chance to outline all of the work that goes into your business. Using them as a tool to communicate with staff is a great way to push to meet and exceed your child care center's goals.