Communication Strategies for Nanny Employers

The Mom’s Best Friend staffing team is reading the book Crucial Conversations in order to build our communication and conflict management skills, and I can’t help but think about how useful the tools are for family-nanny communication.

So many disagreements and miscommunications can be avoided when you are deliberate, take personal responsibility, understand your emotions, and you remember that you both want the same thing – to come to a resolution while maintaining a positive relationship (AKA it’s not just about winning or making the other person the bad guy).

Here are some foundational recommendations to keep things harmonious in your home:

  • Trust: Having a nanny means that you will have to give an outline of your parenting philosophy, hire a trustworthy person, and then step back and let your nanny handle the details. This doesn’t mean you won’t tweak things along the way, but it does mean you won’t second-guess or make every decision. Giving your nanny freedom and learning to accept minor differences will go a long way.
  • Mutual Respect: Treat your nanny as an equal, as she is a professional who is contributing a great deal to your family. You also should expect her to respect your household, including your values, rules, and boundaries. Schedules are also to be respected – if you ask your nanny for flexibility, occasionally you will need to offer flexibility when requested.
  • Appreciation: If you tend to only address your nanny when there is an issue, it is likely that the conversation will not go well. However, if your nanny feels appreciated and is given regular positive praise, she will be much more open to feedback.
  • Open communication: Besides a quick daily check-in on your way in and out, we recommend setting aside about an hour every 3 months or so to speak to your nanny without the children present. This gives nannies a place to talk about how things are going and provides a forum for sharing feelings. In this meeting, discuss successes, expectations, challenges, and/or goals, and always ask what you could be doing better as an employer.

If these basics are in place, you are starting off on the right foot with a difficult conversation. From there, we recommend addressing any conflicts promptly and constructively. This means:

  • Make your employee feel safe: Again, have you built trust and mutual respect, have you shown appreciation, and had open communication? This is the best place to start to find a mutual solution. Avoid distractions, interruptions, judgments, and assumptions.
  • Consider your approach: Relationship expert and psychologist John Gottman stated, “94% of the time how a discussion starts determines the way it will end.” Start from your heart, approach the situation with empathy and understanding, and take personal responsibility.
  • Be an active listener: Pay attention to not only the words, but the tone, emotions, and body language. Understand your emotions/triggers and look for theirs. Use eye contact, nod, smile, ask open-ended questions, show genuine interest, and paraphrase or summarize.
  • Acknowledge additional perspectives: Be sure that you are not approaching the conversation with the goal to “win”. Acknowledge your biases and truly be open-minded to your nanny’s perspectives and ideas.
  • Implement mutually beneficial solutions: When you have constructively problem-solved the situation, take action to ensure mutual commitments are met and long-term solutions are implemented. This will help to prevent future conflicts and strengthen your relationship.

We want to help you prevent misunderstandings by encouraging deliberate communication, personal responsibility, and recognizing shared goals. In order to resolve conflicts, it’s crucial to have open communication with a safe environment, an empathetic approach, active listening, and implementing mutually beneficial solutions. If you need any advice, please don’t hesitate to book a call with Kimberly!