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Posts Tagged ‘hiring decisions’

So I followed the advice from First Break All the Rules in hiring a new nanny, and I’m really pleased with the person that we’ve hired. She’s got a great attitude, the kids really love her, and she seems comfortable managing the challenges of the job (and by that I mean corralling a pair of 2.5 year olds who are in turns, charming and devilish, self-sufficient and dependent). But she doesn’t have as much experience as our prior nanny, and there is, of course, the learning curve of figuring out how our particular household, children, and stroller work. And I work from home.

I am struggling with finding the line between how much I should be jumping in and helping her while the boys are testing her by getting out of their beds to go potty four times before finally settling down for their naps, versus how much I should just sit in my office, with headphones in my ears and while sitting on my hands, letting her figure it out.

While it might be more dramatic when played out on the home-front, my struggle is a classic problem that leaders often encounter at work as they’re managing and developing people. One way of thinking about this issue that I’ve found helpful at work is the Blanchard model of situational leadership. According to Blanchard, there are four different kinds of leaders: directing leaders (S1), coaching leaders (S2), supporting leaders (S3) and delegating leaders (S4). There are also four different levels to describe the skills of the people that you lead, with much less catchy names. “Followers” can be Low Competence, High Commitment (D1), Some Competence, Low Commitment (D2), High Competence, Variable Commitment (D3), and High Competence, High Commitment (D4). Blanchard suggests that leaders match their style with where the people that they’re leading are. Which makes a lot of sense.


My former nanny started as a D3 and became a D4 after 2 years, and my new one is starting as a D2. According to Blanchard that means that I do need to step in to help her understand her role and define the tasks that she’s involved in, but I also need to do some sitting on my hands, letting her figure stuff out and come up with her own ideas.

It’s easy to agree with the model from an intellectual perspective, of course, and much harder to watch (or hear) my nanny learn on the job when the job is my kids. I think that’s one of the challenges of having people work for you personally, whether it’s in your home or for your small business. But since there doesn’t seem to be any existing frameworks for training a nanny, I’m going to go ahead and give Blanchard a try. 

I don’t know if you’ve tried it, but it is extremely difficult to type while I’m sitting on my hands.

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I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who is good at hiring people. I tend to listen for what I want to hear, and I really want to like job candidates, which gets in the way of serious evaluation.When it came to hiring a nanny, I did a pretty poor job the first time, mostly because I didn’t know what I wanted. I was a new mom of 3 month old twins, knew nothing about parenting, and tried to hire someone who really knew what she was doing. Little did I know that by the time my boys were 6 months old I’d consider myself the expert in their care, and resent our nanny’s tendency to try to tell me what to do. When it came time to hire nanny #2, we interviewed three candidates and I immediately had a great feeling about one of them. She’s been with us for almost two years now, and we consider ourselves incredibly lucky.Our wonderful nanny will be leaving soon, taking off to travel with her fiance, and I’m worried that I won’t be as lucky a second time. But I’ve recently read First, Break All the Rules for work, and there’s a nugget of wisdom that I think will help our search be more successful.One of the premises of the book is that people who are most successful and happiest in their jobs have innate talents that lend themselves to the role. There’s an entire section in the book titled “The Art of Interviewing for Talent.” Basically, the book suggests that you ask open ended questions and then believe the first thing that candidates say. So no fishing for the answer you want to hear. No asking the question a few ways until you get an answer that you’re satisfied with. It’s about taking people’s initial responses at face value, and making decisions based on what you hear. There’s more in there about asking for specific examples of behavior and finding out what parts of the job are most satisfying for people.Hiring a nanny is such a stressful experience. There are so many different things that I am looking for: someone who will care for my children with love, help them learn to explore the world, have fun with them, feed them a healthy diet, handle any emergencies, be nice to our dog, etc. On top of that, there are issues around what kind of relationship the nanny wants to have with our family, and me in particular since I work at home. Whether she’ll be on time on a regular basis and if she’s not, whether she’ll blame the bus or take responsibility for herself.I like the idea of applying the principles from First, Break All the Rules for a few reasons. One, if I’m looking for talents, I’ll hopefully be looking for elements of her personality and her approach to the job that will address many diverse aspects of the job. And two, it gives me a framework for the interview, a way of approaching it from a structured perspective that I trust will get me good results. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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