Why is Performance Management Usually Underrated in Child Care

Why is Performance Management Usually Underrated in Child Care

Performance management is an essential tool for evaluating and improving the performance of employees in any industry. However, in the child care industry, performance management is often overlooked or underrated. This is unfortunate, as performance management can be an essential tool for improving staff performance and the quality of care provided to children.

But why is performance management usually underrated in the child care industry? Is it due to a lack of time and resources? A lack of understanding of its importance? Or perhaps a focus on the well-being and development of children, rather than individual staff performance?

In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why performance management is often underrated in the child care industry and discuss the benefits of implementing a performance management system. By understanding the value of performance management and learning how to implement it effectively, child care centers can improve staff performance and provide better care to the children.

1. Time and resources

Performance management can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, and child care centers may not have the time or resources to devote to it. This is especially true for small child care centers with limited staff and resources. A survey by the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency found that 40% of child care centers reported not having enough time to devote to staff development and training, including performance management.

In addition to time constraints, implementing a performance management system can also require additional resources such as training, support, and tools to track and measure performance. These resources may not be readily available to child care centers, further adding to the challenges of implementing a performance management system.

Furthermore, performance management can be challenging for child care centers due to the lack of data and metrics available to measure and evaluate staff performance. Unlike other industries where performance can be more easily measured through sales or production numbers, it can be challenging to gather and analyze data on individual staff performance in the child care industry. This can make it challenging to evaluate and improve performance effectively.

The time and resource constraints and lack of data and metrics available for performance management can make it challenging for child care centers to implement a performance management system effectively. However, despite these challenges, performance management can be an essential tool for improving staff performance and the quality of care provided to children. By investing in training and support and finding ways to gather and analyze data on staff performance, child care centers can overcome these challenges and reap the benefits of performance management.

2. Lack of understanding

The lack of understanding of performance management can lead to many problems. For example, without a clear understanding of the goals and expectations for staff performance, it can be difficult for employees to know how to improve. This can lead to a lack of motivation and a decline in performance. Without a clear understanding of how to measure and evaluate performance, it can be challenging to identify areas for improvement and provide the necessary support and resources to help staff improve.

Without a clear understanding of the benefits of performance management, some managers may not see the value in investing time and resources into implementing a performance management system. This can lead to performance management being overlooked or not given the attention it deserves.

A study by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that staff satisfaction is closely linked to the quality of care provided to children. Satisfied staff are more likely to create a positive and supportive learning environment for children, leading to improved outcomes for children. 

3. Limited focus on individual performance

Here are a few steps that child care centers can take to improve focus on individual performance:

  • Set clear goals and expectations: It's important for staff to know what is expected of them in terms of performance. By setting clear goals and expectations, centers can provide staff with a roadmap for success. These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  • Provide feedback and support: Centers need to provide ongoing feedback and support to help staff improve their performance. This can include regular check-ins, training and development opportunities, and access to resources and tools to help staff succeed. It's also crucial for centers to provide constructive feedback, focusing on specific behaviors and offering suggestions for improvement.
  • Evaluate and measure performance: By regularly evaluating and measuring performance, centers can identify areas for improvement and provide support and resources to help staff improve. This can be done through regular performance evaluations, assessments of child outcomes, and tracking data on staff attendance, turnover, and retention.


4. Limited data

There are a few ways that child care centers can gather and analyze data on staff performance:

  • Use performance evaluation tools and forms: These tools can help standardize the evaluation process and provide a consistent way to measure and evaluate performance.
  • Use data on staff attendance, turnover, and retention: By analyzing this data, centers can identify trends and patterns and take action to improve staff performance.
  • Observe staff performance: Observations of staff performance can help identify areas for improvement and provide a more comprehensive view of staff performance.
  • Seek feedback from parents and colleagues: Feedback from parents and colleagues can provide valuable insights into the performance of individual staff.
  • Use data on child outcomes: By gathering and analyzing data on child outcomes, such as developmental milestones and school readiness, centers can evaluate the impact of staff performance on child outcomes.

5. Limited recognition and rewards

Limited recognition and rewards can be a challenge for child care centers, as staff may not feel valued or motivated to improve their performance. One way to address this issue is to implement a recognition and rewards program for staff.

  • Identify what staff value: This can differ for each staff member, so it's important to ask staff and gather input on what they would appreciate. Some staff members may value verbal praise, while others prefer written notes of appreciation or small tokens of appreciation.
  • Recognize and reward staff regularly: Recognize and reward staff regularly, not just once a year, during a formal review process. By recognizing and rewarding staff regularly, centers can show appreciation for staff and provide ongoing motivation. This can be as simple as thanking staff for their hard work or giving them a gift card to show appreciation.
  • Use various methods for recognition and rewards: Centers can use various methods for recognition and rewards, including verbal praise, written notes of appreciation, gift cards, small tokens of appreciation, and opportunities for professional development. It's important to mix up the methods of recognition and rewards to keep staff motivated and engaged.
  • Make recognition and rewards meaningful: This can involve personalizing recognition and rewards to the individual staff member, and making sure that the recognition or reward is something that the staff member values. For example, if a staff member is interested in professional development, offering them the opportunity to attend a conference or training may be more meaningful than a gift card.

6. Lack of clear expectations

Provide staff with a roadmap for success and help ensure everyone is on the same page.

  • Communicate expectations clearly: This can be done through regular meetings, written policies and procedures, and one-on-one conversations with staff.
  • Be specific: This means providing clear, detailed instructions and guidelines for staff to follow.
  • Use examples: Providing examples of what is expected can help staff understand and meet expectations more effectively.
  • Set consequences for not meeting expectations: According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, setting clear consequences for not meeting performance expectations can lead to an average increase of 9.5% in employee performance. This can be especially important in the child care industry, where the quality of care provided to children is of the utmost importance. For example, a consequence for not meeting expectations around punctuality could be a written warning or loss of a professional development opportunity, while a consequence for not meeting expectations around the care of children could be termination of employment. It's important to tailor the consequences to the specific expectation that was not met and to ensure that they are fair and consistently enforced.

Do you want to learn more about performance management? Schedule a demo to find out all of the information that you need.

Are you looking for more child care management information? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Child Care Management.

Our child care management system makes running your child care program simple and efficient. Get back to what's most important. You shouldn't have to spend more time on the administrative tasks than you do with children and staff. 

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Do you run an early childhood association made up of child care providers? If so, check out our Ultimate Guide to Shared Service Alliance.


Header image courtesy of Jumpstory.

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