How to give and receive feedback with your family – Part 1

In any workplace, there will be things that you value and appreciate, and there will be things that could be improved upon or you wish were done differently. Many workplaces schedule regular performance reviews, which provide an opportunity for both the employer and the employee to reflect, give and receive constructive feedback, and problem-solve together. In a Nanny placement, the family is your employer and it is important to have ongoing communication with them about expectations, areas of improvement, any challenges that may arise, and what can be done to address those challenges. Ideally, right from the beginning, the family will agree to have regularly scheduled meetings where you can discuss these topics without the child(ren) present. However, this is not always the case or, as everyone’s lives get busy and other things take priority, these meetings don’t occur regularly enough or are forgotten altogether. To help address this issue, we have put together some tips for requesting a feedback session with your family, along with how to give and receive feedback in an effective, professional manner. 

 

Requesting a feedback session
If you’re able to ask to schedule a formal conversation in-person, that’s great. If you’re unable to ask them directly, sending an email requesting a meeting is also an acceptable means of communication, provided it is written professionally and sets the right tone for the conversation. Below, you will find some tips for requesting a feedback session, whether it’s done verbally or through email.

Reflect on your purpose and intentions
Why do you think it is necessary to have the conversation? What are you hoping to get out of it? There are right and wrong reasons to want to give feedback. For example, you could want to enhance or support the working relationship. You feel a sense of responsibility and commitment to the family. You are genuinely concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the child(ren) and/or family. Or you could be coming from a place of defensiveness and are wanting the opportunity to defend or excuse your actions. Or perhaps you want to condemn the parents for their actions. Maybe you’re just feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with the child(ren)’s behaviour. It is important to reflect on your intentions beforehand, so you can have a clear idea of what the purpose is and what you’re hoping to achieve by having the conversation.

Ensure the timing and circumstances for giving feedback are appropriate
Feedback should be given in a timely manner. If something isn’t sitting right with you, it’s better to address it sooner, rather than wait for the frustration and resentment to build over time. Furthermore, it is easier for the recipient to recall specific behaviours or situations if you are able to provide recent examples. You also need to be mindful of the greater context in which the meeting is taking place. Is it a good time to be bringing up these issues? Who is going to be present and part of the conversation? What other external factors might affect the family’s ability and willingness to engage in this discussion? We recommend finding a time where both parents can be present (if it’s a two parent household), and the kids are absent or occupied.

Set the tone
It is important to maintain a calm, composed, and professional tone when asking to have a meeting with your family, whether it’s a verbal or written request. It is better to be assertive (but not aggressive) than passive or apologetic, in order to convey that you take the matter seriously and you expect the family to do the same. You also want to ensure that the family remains open, rather than going on the defensive; otherwise, the feedback session will not be constructive and it may put further strain on the working relationship. You can make the family feel more comfortable by reassuring them that it is a two-way conversation and you are hoping to work collaboratively with them to come up with ideas and solutions for how to move forward. As it is a two-way conversation, you must also be open and prepared to receive feedback from the family during the meeting.

Propose a course of action
Once you have expressed how you feel and let the family know that you wish to meet with them, be proactive in scheduling that meeting and ensuring that it actually happens. As the family’s Nanny, you likely have a good idea of the parents’ schedule and can propose some specific dates and times that the meeting could take place. Taking that step shows that you are serious about having a constructive conversation and interested in working cooperatively with the family; it also subtly conveys that you are not willing to have your feelings be dismissed. If you do not hear back from the family within a few days, you may want to follow up with them again as well.

 

Sample email requesting a meeting with the family

Hi _____ and _____,

It’s hard to believe we’ve already been working together for eight weeks. Time certainly does fly! 

When we first met, we agreed that we would schedule regular adult meetings, without the kids present, so that we could have a check-in and discuss how things are going. Now that we’re at the eight week mark, I think we should plan to have one of those meetings. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation with the two of you, where we can reflect on the past two months, share any feedback we may have for each other, and come up with ideas for moving forward. 

I understand that you are both busy with work and our schedules don’t always align, so I would like to propose we meet on one of the following dates / times. Please let me know which date works best for you.

(potential dates and times for meeting)

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with your family so far, and I am looking forward to discussing ways to continue to support our working relationship in the months ahead!

All the best,

_____

Be sure to check back next week for Part 2 – How to give and receive feedback effectively

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