We work in a fast-paced environment with a whole range of differing personalities and sometimes this can cause conflict. Some Educators will naturally gravitate to each other and others will have less than ideal relationships. Some Educators like to fill the room with energy and chatter whilst other people like quiet reflection and contemplation. Some of us enjoy basking in the glow of the limelight while others are very uncomfortable with public displays of praise.
Not everyone in the world communicates and reacts to their environment in the same way. Educators work and communicate in very different ways. Learning how to identify and understand different working styles is a fundamental component of creating high performing and harmonious teams. Personality clashes are not inevitable and are often the result of a lack of understanding and awareness.
Increased understanding leads to increased respect
Understanding different personality styles leads to increased respect and understanding. The focus on changing other people’s personalities has been a persistent myth which has hampered the development of many teams. The focus should be on changing the way we operate in order to create an environment where others can thrive.
When Educators understand different working styles it allows them to modify their approach to bring out the best in each other, improve communication and reduce conflict. The focus should not be on treating people like we like to be treated but treating people in a way they like to be treated. This perceptual shift places the onus on each of us to communicate in a way that brings out the best from each other.
The name of the styles depends on the personality theory but generally, there’s consider to be 4 main working styles.
Four working styles;
Each of these working styles exhibits general characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. They need to be managed and communicated in different ways. Understanding the unique characteristics will help your team bring out the best in each other.
Below are the 4 main styles. (Can you identify your team?)
The analytical personality type is very profound and thoughtful. They are serious and purposeful individuals. Analyticals are orderly, organized, they love lists and process.
They want things done right! And they want them done right the first time. They are neat and tidy individuals. Analyticals are detail-focused and they are self-disciplined.
Analyticals’ weaknesses are that they can be moody, critical and negative. Analyticals can be indecisive and they over-analyse everything.
Drivers have a dynamic and direct working style. They exude confidence and move very quickly to action. For Drivers, close enough is good enough. Drivers’ strengths are that they are very determined individuals. They are independent and they are productive. Drivers get a lot of things done.
On the weak side, the driver can be insensitive, unsympathetic, harsh, proud and sarcastic. They can also rush to a decision without thoroughly thinking it through.
The amiable working type is very patient and well-balanced. They are quiet team players, very sympathetic, kind, and inoffensive. Amiables do not like to offend people.
An amiable is easy going and everybody likes Amiables. They don’t like conflict, so they’re very agreeable. They’re diplomatic and calm. But on the weak side, their aversion to offence and conflict can also manifest as a weakness.
Expressives are the social specialist because they love to have fun. They are individuals who turn disaster into humour. They prevent dull moments and they are very generous people. They want to be included in projects, in teams and conversations.
On the strong side, the expressive is very outgoing and easily engaged. They are ambitious, charismatic, and persuasive. On the weak side, they can be disorganized, undisciplined, loud, and lose interest quickly.
Changing your approach to suit your colleagues working styles ensures we can bring out the best in each other.
When you take this approach as a team, you’ll find you have increased collaboration and less aggressiveness. You’ll have increased engagement, positivity and a genuine respect and acceptance of different personalities.
Building An Effective Team
To make a great team we need to remember that great teams are about personalities, not just skills. As leaders and managers we should place as much emphasis on developing team cohesiveness as we do on developing technical skills.
Managers and leaders who focus on how the team interacts with each other and the psychological factors that create the team’s success, consistently have higher-performing teams.
We all need team members who are:
- Results-oriented. (Drivers) Team members who organically organize work and take charge tend to be socially self-confident, and energetic.
- Relationship-focused. (Amiable) Team members who organically focus on relationships, are attuned to others’ feelings, and are good at building cohesion tend to be warm, diplomatic, and approachable.
- Process and rule followers. (Analytical) Team members who pay attention to details, processes, and rules tend to be reliable, organized, and conscientious.
- Innovative and disruptive thinkers. (Expressive) Team members who naturally focus on innovation, anticipate problems, and recognize when the team needs to change tend to be imaginative, curious, and open to new experiences.
Rather than seeing opposing styles as threats, great teams work in a way that allows each other to thrive and focuses on the strengths in each other. Real results can be seen when leaders move the focus from what the team does to how they do it. A focus on how the team communicates, celebrates and resolves conflict has immeasurable benefits for the members of the team and the educational outcomes for the children in their care.
About the Author
Tracey Hamilton is a qualified Early Childhood Teacher with a Bachelor of Behavioural Sciences (Psychology). She is currently facilitating “Understanding Yourself and Others” workshops for Early Childhood and OSHC teams.
Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure. Excuses and bad attitudes can ruin your team, they create blame and disharmony causing high performers to flee.
Personal accountability is not simply the absence of excuses. It is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions and decisions. It’s the belief that you are fully responsible for your own actions and consequences. It’s a choice, a mindset and an expression of integrity.
A lack of accountability produces blame, excuses and denial of responsibilities. It’s easy to see a lack of accountability in others,
- Sorry I’m late but my alarm didn’t go off.
- Yes, the learning story isn’t perfect, but I only had 15mins to write it.
- How can I supervise correctly when we don’t have enough staff?
Personal accountability is about people taking initiative and following it through. It requires open and upfront communication at all levels.
As leaders, what are you accountable for? Providing a safe work environment? Creating a culture of ongoing learning and development or creating an engaging and supportive work environment?
Educators and Teachers need to be accountable for the education and care of children, building strong relationships with colleagues, creating an environment that’s inclusive with a sense of belonging for families.
If accountability fails, getting angry and frustrated isn’t the answer. We can say goodbye to excuses and hello to accountably by creating an environment that rewards positive attitudes.
1. Expectations Matter
Amazing leaders are crystal clear about what they expect. Having a two-way conversation about the outcomes expected, stating how these are going to be achieved and identifying the measures for success will provide the foundations for accountability.
Discussions should clarify expectation around performance, attitudes and behaviours. Excuses will flourish If expectations are unclear or roles and responsibilities are poorly defined.
2. Allocate resources
What skills and resources do Educators need to meet the expectations? Do they need extra prep time or additional learning and development? Perhaps they need some mentoring or coaching? Allocating resources are essential if you’re going to ask for accountability in return. Resources can also include an appropriate level of authority. If we delegate all responsibility and no authority we’re setting people up to fail.
3. Decide what success looks like
Nothing is more frustrating than being let down. However, it’s completely avoidable. During your conversation about expectations, agree on weekly milestones with clear measurable objective targets. Targets can be as simple or as complex as you like. A simple measure could be to have three meaningful interactions with families for each Educator in your room per week.
4. Give Coaching Feedback
Honest and ongoing feedback is critical. Educators need to know where they stand. To ensure targets are being met, ask a simple question in your weekly meeting. “How are your relationships with parents in your room? What have you done which moves towards meaningful relationships?
If targets are off track, discuss immediately. Brainstorm a solution and identify a fix.
5. Use questions to prompt for accountability
If you’ve been clear with steps 1 – 4, you’ve done what you need to support high performance. Now you can start to prompt for accountability.
Telling the Educator what to do simply condones their lack of accountability. Use questions to prompt for a change in attitude.
- What’s one thing you can do today that will get this project back on track?
- What steps can you take today to get this task completed?
- If you are going to try to get this done. What should we do first?
By asking prompting questions hopefully you’ll be moving the Educator from excuses to accountability. These 5 steps are the building blocks to create a service of accountability. A strong culture is created when the steps are used in sequence. If you miss any one, accountability will fall through the gap.
Having a culture of accountability will deliver immeasurable benefits for the service. You’ll see your team take responsibility for their actions and outcomes. With these new strategies in place, you’ll have a team with a positive attitude to work, takes ownership and shows responsibility.
About the author:
Adrian Pattra is a management consultant with a Master of Education (Ed. Psychology). He is currently facilitating a new webinar series designed for managers and leaders “Educator Accountability: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide”
Leading Educators Through Change
- Unpacking Educator Emotions to Change
- Different Perspectives on Change
- Barriers to Change
- Support for Agility
- Way of Working through Disruption
A participant handout is used during this presentation. Click the link below to download the handout prior to watch the webinar. Ensure you have the handout printed prior the watching the webinar.
Wellbeing increases your health and happiness, it allows you to be calm, present in the moment and resilient. It encompasses the health of the whole person – physical, mental, social and emotional.
Our wellbeing can change moment to moment, day to day, year to year, and can be influenced by what’s happening in a specific moment and the actions that we take.
ACECQA is continuing to promote Educator wellbeing as an important factor in achieving exceeding in Quality Area 4.1 and 4.2 and 5. ACECQA’s National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone states that when Educators have a strong sense of wellbeing they are better equipped to:
- be responsive to every child
- develop rich, respectful relationships with each child
- develop a deeper understanding of each child.
Wellbeing helps us:
- stay resilient when times get tough
- build social supports and self-efficacy
- emerge from our challenges even stronger, knowing we have the ability to cope with adversity.
Wellbeing isn’t one giant step, it’s lots of little steps that allow you to become more mindful and calmer in your day-to-day tasks. At a service level wellbeing has been shown to improve work performance, reduce absenteeism, and improve the culture of the organisation.
A strong sense of wellbeing contributes to good mental health. It also helps to protect us from feelings of hopelessness and depression, acting as a ‘guardian’ of our mental health. Mental health is not merely the absence of mental illness rather it’s a state of overall wellbeing.
There are five main factors that contribute to our wellbeing. These ‘building blocks’ of wellbeing are easily remembered as the acronym ‘PERMA’:
Feelings of pleasure, happiness, satisfaction, comfort. We can take responsibility for our feelings, cultivating happiness and gratitude.
Living an engaged life, being absorbed and connected to activities to the point where we lose track of time and effort (flow).
Connections to other people and relationships give us support, meaning and purpose in life. Positive relationships have been found to have an enormous influence on our wellbeing.
Being part of and working towards something that’s much larger than yourself rather than purely pursuing material wealth.
Pursuing success, achievement and mastery of things for their own sake can build self-esteem, self-efficacy (useful in tough times) and a sense of accomplishment.
Working on each of these factors can help us flourish in all aspects of life. It’s good to know there are lots of things we can do to enhance our wellbeing. We can all learn new ways to feel more positive emotions, have stronger relationships and find meaningful work.
The following elements all contribute to wellbeing and resilience:
- finding your strengths and using them
- Creating flow in your daily tasks and
- Mindfulness and meditation
Find out more about building wellbeing strategies at The Mindful Leader and Wellbeing Conference.
Each year for Christmas we head to the beach, swimming and surfing are some of my favourite things to do over the summer holidays. Going to the beach allows me to spend time with family and get some much-needed rest and relaxation.
The beaches are normally packed with people, and lifesavers have the unenviable task of keeping everyone safe. Not only do they need to cater for a wide range of swimming abilities, they also need to factor in the ever-changing surf conditions. The beach is kept safe by everyone swimming between the flags. Lifesavers position the flags in the safest position on the beach and they can rescue swimmers if they get into trouble.
People who choose to swim beyond the flags not only risk their safety but also the safety of others. At any given moment your behaviour either puts you between the flags or beyond the flags.
“People may hear your words but they feel your attitude.”
The same applies to teams. Some attitudes are going to promote team cohesiveness and others are going to destroy it. Attitudes are important because it’s the feeling you give off to the team. Attitudes are more important than education, qualifications or skills. Attitude is the little thing that makes the biggest difference.
Attitudes that are between the flags are those that help the team succeed. Attitudes such as Educators taking ownership and responsibility. They see solutions, take-action and support each other. Being between the flags is knowing that you can’t always control the situation but you can choose your attitude. When all Educators are between the flags, success just seems to flow.
“Bad attitudes will ruin your team.”
When working in small teams in a high-pressure environment, it is natural that some bad attitudes might creep into the team. Attitudes that are beyond the flags are denial, blame and excuses.
When Educators are beyond the flags, you hear statements such as ‘I didn’t do it’ or ‘it’s not my fault’. These attitudes derail the team and undermine success. When Educators behave beyond the flags we see them blaming, fault finding and ignoring each other.
When you have staff beyond the flags, your team can get stuck in a victim cycle and getting back on track is almost impossible. In this situation, people pretend not to know that there’s a problem, deny its existence, or remain unaware of its effects. Beyond the flag attitudes are a problem because tough issues remain unresolved. Small problems become even larger ones and instead of moving forward, people consider themselves victims and point fingers at others.
“For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.”
When your team chooses to be between the flags, they take 100% responsibility for their actions and outcomes. They see a world full of possibilities, where they have the power to choose their own attitude, to choose their own way. Educators that operate between the flags believe life is about how you perceive it. They look for the good in bad situations and turn the negatives into a learning experience. These people take ownership and responsibility for everything that happens.
Great leaders set the flags with their team. Decide what “good” looks like, support the team to clearly articulate what attitudes and behaviours do we demonstrate when we are at our best. These will be the attitudes and behaviours that are between the flags and the attitudes we are willing to accept from each other. Conversely, the team will need to identify which attitudes and behaviours are beyond the flags, attitudes that we don’t want to exist in the team.
Having the team decide the attitudes and behaviours they expect from themselves and each other is the first step in moving from a mentality of blame to an attitude of trust, confidence and positivity. It’s a great activity to do with your team this month and help bring a positive attitude this Christmas.
To find out more about how Farran Street Education can help bring a positive attitude to your team click here.
On 26th Aug we kick off The Early Childhood Management Series.
This 5-part live webinar series tackles complicated topics such as; time management, conflict, gossip, and trust. We provide simple proven strategies that you can use to deal with these issues and get the best out of your team.
The following webinars are included in the series:
1. Time Management For Managers
2. Building Strong Leadership Teams
3. It’s A Knockout – Resolving and Preventing Non-Functional Conflict
4. Building Trust In EC Teams
5. Eliminating Gossip and Promoting a Positive Culture.
Time Management Quiz
Time management is an essential management skill for any Teacher, Nominated Supervisor or Co-ordinator. Being time poor is perhaps the biggest hurdle in being an effective manager in an early childhood education and care setting. So many people say “If I didn’t get so many interruptions, I might actually be able to get something done!”
Without good time management skills, you’re left dealing with only the most urgent issues with no time to plan, review or reflect. Trapped in a never-ending cycle of urgent tasks you remain paralysed unable to lead and manage effectively.
The quiz below will help you to understand how effectively you manage your time.
As a leader, we understand you spend your day wearing many different hats in the workplace.
Sometimes it can be challenging to choose the right professional development opportunities for you and your team. To help save you time in trying to analyse the development teams of you and/or your team, we have developed the Leadership Learning Plans.
These cards are designed to help you understand the skills and development needs of certain roles. We have also included some suggested some Farran Street Education programs which assist you in forging the right path for you or your team members.
Over the coming weeks, we will be releasing these Leadership Learning Plans and encourage you to take them back to your team to discuss!
Motivating staff is a major concern for any EC or OSHC manager. In this short video Daniel Pink uncovers the 3 key ingredients which need to be present for staff to be motivated.
Each year appraisals are dreaded by Educators and Managers alike. But they don’t have to be! Appraisals should be a culmination of feedback given throughout the year and an opportunity to re-set expectations. If you want to receive an outstanding appraisal here are 5 statements to keep you at the top of the pile.
- “This year I’ve spent time helping other Educators”
Informal coaching and mentoring of Educators in your team is going to almost guarantee you an amazing appraisal. If you’ve taken time during the year to help other Educators who may have been struggling or if you implemented change and inspired the team on the journey, then it will show your manager you’re a team player.
- “This year I’ve learnt new skills”
Educators who focus on personal growth and development tend to be in the top 10% of high performers. Stating that you’ve learnt new skills in your role shows you’re adopting a “willing to learn” attitude rather an “I know it all” attitude.
- “I’ve achieved my goals we set last year”
Each year many of us set goals for the following year. High performing Educators make sure that they’ve achieved these goals. They make sure that the personal goals they set link to their room goals and their services’ goals.
- “This year I’d like to grow in my role”
Taking control of your professional development and career progression is key to receiving a great appraisal. Perhaps you’d like to specialise in technology or sustainability. Perhaps you’d like to develop your advocacy skills or take time to establish your professional identity.
- “What can I do to exceed your expectations for next year?”
Asking this question shows that you’re driven to be great at your role. It also reminds your manager that in order for you to demonstrate high performance they need to clearly articulate their expectations.
Are you managing appraisals this year? Check out our new webinar Educator Performance Reviews & Appraisals. They’re Not About Feedback