Building of a culture of communication between you and your employer takes conscious thought and effort from both parties. The Working Agreement is a great foundation, but it doesn’t stop there; developing a solid communication system will allow you and your employer to avoid many potential misunderstandings. If you lack such as system, but do have an understanding of what works and doesn’t work, you’ll need to go about communicating that to your employer. One common way to do this is what’s known as “managing up.”
Unlike a top-down employer-to-nanny relationship, a relationship in which you are managing up allows you construct a successful working relationship with your employer and empowers you to set the stage for proactive communication.
Let’s dig a little bit more into this concept of “managing up.”
What Managing Up Is NOT
When learning about a new concept, it’s often helpful to think about it terms of what it is not. Managing up is not agreeing to work longer hours without mutual agreement to avoid a conflict. It isn’t kissing up to your employer or being subservient. And it definitely isn’t about manipulating your employer behind-the-scenes to achieve your desired outcome.
What Managing Up IS
Managing up, when done well, is about empowerment. Through it you can empower yourself and your employer to enter into a daily communication rhythm to help you anticipate challenges and to provide you with guidance when situations do arise (and they will).
Good News! You’ve Got This
Managing up isn’t always easy and involves a high level of emotional intelligence. The good news is that, if you are good at nannying, you probably already have many of these skills. They include:
- Having the ability to anticipate challenges
- Recognizing the needs of the children in your care
- Understanding what your employer needs from you beyond childcare
- Knowing when your employer is (and is not) open to input and help and stepping back when indicated
Managing up can be simple, but it starts with you. Here are a few steps to get you started:
- Take Stock of Your Routine. If you haven’t started documenting your day-to-day routines and sharing them with your employer, do so now. A handwritten weekly log is great, but a simple text message sent at the end of the day works fine as well. The key is consistency.
- Schedule Check-ins. You and your employer may be too busy for a weekly sit-down check-in, but make sure you have a regular opportunity to talk. This will help you and your employer maintain a healthy connection and avoid being blind-sided by a difficult situation.
- Anticipate and Communicate. Keeping track of things (in a log or text) lets you and your employer recognize what’s working, become alert to positive or negative patterns, and identify where you can work together to improve the outcome. For example, you might notice that the baby in your care is no longer napping well or that your employer is consistently late in getting home. Bring up these concerns at your next check-in and suggest possible changes. For example, propose changing a nap schedule or changing your work schedule. (NOTE: If an issue is urgent, bring it up immediately.)
- Ask for Information and Feedback. Let parents know that you are receptive to their feedback. Ask them if there is anything they would like you to do differently. Brainstorm with them about ways to approach different situations. For example, if a child is no longer napping well, ask about how the night-time routine is going. Decide on a coordinated sleep schedule that works for everyone.
- Ask How You Can Help. Anyone who has ever been frustrated or faced with a crisis knows that the best thing to hear is an offer to help. An offer to help also provides an amazing opportunity to demonstrate your value as a fundamental part of the “family team.”
We hope these tips help you on your journey to managing up and developing a functional communication system with your employer.
We’d love to hear how you have managed up this week in the comments below. We’ve collected a handful of examples of managing up in the real nanny world. View our examples here.
About the Author: Helen Adeosun is passionate about children. As a former high school 9th grade English teacher, she was excited about ways to drive learning in her classroom and how to better serve her students. CareAcademy was born out of her own experience as a nanny and she hopes that careacademy.co is a place to continuously learn and share with current and future nannies. The year before starting CareAcademy she was hired by a wonderful family that had two children with special needs who taught her so much. Helen holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an EdM. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.