Remember the 3 Cs of effective communication
When presenting the family with the feedback, keep in mind the three Cs of effective communication: Clear, Concise, and Consistent. Identify the key messages you want to get across. Try to be direct and remain focused during the conversation — it’s okay to give a few specific examples, but try not to ramble on or go off-track. Finally, be consistent in what you’re saying and avoid contradicting yourself. You may also want to revisit or repeat your key messages during the conversation, in order to highlight their importance.
Convey your good intentions
It is important to remind the family (and yourself) that the purpose of the meeting is not to point fingers or shame and blame anyone; the purpose is to reflect, exchange constructive feedback, problem-solve together, and make a plan for moving forward. Ultimately, your intention is to enhance and support the working relationship and improve the situation for everyone involved.
Make the conversation interactive
A feedback session is not the time to monologue. The conversation will not be productive if it only involves one person talking, while the others simply listen and don’t have an opportunity to respond or share their perspective. You can encourage the family to participate in the conversation by asking them open-ended questions and inviting them to share their thoughts and observations as well. As we mentioned, this is a two-way conversation, the family will likely have feedback for you as well.
Use “I” statements
Another way to help the family remain open to hearing your feedback, as opposed to responding with defensiveness, is to use “I” statements. Saying “you did _____” or “you never _____” can result in the recipient of those statements feeling as if they are being blamed or shamed. Instead, try to only reference your own feelings about the situation. For example, you could phrase a statement as “I feel _____ when _____”. “I feel undermined and embarrassed when I am criticized in front of the children” is far more effective than “you criticize me in front of the children” — it communicates how you’re affected by the behaviour, rather than simply pointing a finger at it.
Focus on the issues / behaviours, not the person
Separating the behaviour or actions from the person is imperative in these conversations. By externalizing the problem, you’re allowing the individual(s) to focus on what you’re saying without feeling personally confronted or criticized. This, in turn, makes it easier to address the situation and helps avoid any hurt feelings or damaged relationships. Saying “I think the children are staying up too late and would benefit from a set bedtime” is less personal than saying “you’re irresponsible parents and you let the children stay up as late as they want”.
Include praise and positivity
Chances are, it’s not all bad, otherwise you would have already moved on, right? You can share with the family what you view as their strengths and inject compliments into the conversation, while still providing them with constructive criticism. The more you can frame the conversation positively, the more receptive the family will be to what you have to say. It is also important to highlight what is going well and what you appreciate about working with the family, so as to continue to foster and reinforce those aspects of the relationship.
Identify your needs and state your requests
What do you need and value in a working relationship? How can you ensure that both your needs and the needs of the family are being met and your individual values are being respected? What changes need to be made and what concrete actions would you like to see happen? Make it clear what you are requesting from the family and try to do so without being demanding. For example, “I need my time to be valued. If you are going to be late coming home from work, I would like you to call or text me beforehand, so I am aware”.
Decide how to proceed moving forward
Once both sides have had the opportunity to communicate how they’re feeling and state their needs and requests, it is time to work cooperatively to come up with a concrete plan for how to proceed moving forward. This may take time and involve some mutual brain-storming. It is crucial to come up with an agreed upon plan of action before the end of the meeting; otherwise, there is a risk that nothing will actually change and things will simply revert back to how they were. We also recommend having a written agreement outlining what was decided on during the meeting, which both parties can then sign and have a copy of to refer back to.
Examples of questions to ask when requesting feedback from the family
- Is there anything you’d like me to focus on more?
- How can I prioritize tasks to better suit the needs of your family?
- If you had to give 2 suggestions for how to improve my work, what would they be?
- How can we communicate more effectively, what is your preferred method of communication?
- Do you feel that I am managing my time effectively?
- Is there anything I can take off your to-do list (related to the children)?
Did you miss part 1 of our series on communication with your nanny family? Check it out here
Check out part three next week.