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100 Tips for Nannies and Families

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How to Give Feedback to Your Nanny

You employ a nanny.  Your nanny is like any other employee: in order for her to do her best, she needs to know what you expect of her.  She needs feedback to know how she’s doing . . . what she’s doing well, where there’s room for improvement, etc.  Here are a few tips on giving performance feedback to your nanny.

*Feedback should be provided promptly.  Don’t wait months after an event before providing your nanny with praise or redirection about that event.

*Feedback should be specific.  Ensure that she knows exactly what she did right or wrong.  If you are redirecting her behavior, you must tell her not only what she did wrong, but what doing it right would have looked like as well.  For example, you may say, “Susan, I just saw you use a disposable diaper on Jimmy.  I’m not sure where that diaper came from, but I’d like us not to use disposable diapers in this house.  I know a lot of homes use them, and it’s not for me to say what those other families should or should not do . . . but, for this family, we use cloth diapers.  We try our best to be environmentally friendly.  We don’t want to fill our community landfill with unnecessary trash.  So, that’s why we use cloth diapers and have a diaper service.  Ok?”

*Positive feedback may be public or private.  Negative feedback should be private.  People like to be praised, so feel free to provide your nanny with positive feedback both publicly and privately.  (Public feedback is feedback that is provided in the presence of others.)  Negative feedback (also known as redirection) should only be provided privately.  You (or you and your spouse) should pull the nanny aside and have a private conversation about the behavior to be redirected.

*You may wish to keep a nanny journal.  A nanny journal is a log of communication between nanny and parents . . . a record of each day’s events as recorded by the nanny, with room for parental feedback as well.  For example, the nanny may write, “9:00 a.m.:  Johnny is crying.  He has a fever of 102*F.  I applied a cold washcloth to his forehead and gave him medicine to help him sleep.  He woke up at 11:15 a.m. feeling much better.  No fever or tears.”  The parents, when reviewing the nanny journal that evening, may write next to that entry, “Susan, if Johnny has a fever over 100*F going forward, please call one of us at work.  We’ll need to decide whether to take him to his pediatrician.  The cold washcloth and medicine were good ideas, and that may be the solution on future occurrences as well, but with a fever of 100*F or more, we want you to call one of us so we can decide if a doctor is necessary of if the cold washcloth and medicine approach is best.”

Your nanny is like any other employee: in order for her to do her best, she needs to know what you expect of her.  In order for her to know that, you must provide her feedback on her performance.  You must tell her what she’s doing that is meeting or exceeding your expectations, what she’s doing that is not meeting your expectations, and how she can improve her performance to meet your expectations where she is not currently doing so.  As her employer, you owe her no less.

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