The art of recruitment – how to build a team for success
Finding the right people to form a high-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) team can be challenging.
In the piece below early childhood teacher and approved provider Carrie Rose shares her perspective on the art of recruitment, and the components needed to build a team for success.
How do you find the right people?
Finding the right people is one of the hardest elements when leading any high-quality functional team, Ms Rose believes.
While there are many different types of people who are attracted to working in the sector, she asserts that there are three general ways to describe the personalities of potential employees:
– passionate and driven;
– resistant to reflection and change; or,
– those who just do it for a job.
When undertaking to recruit, a key point of difference for Ms Rose is making hiring decisions based on personality type and behavioural traits, rather than the more traditional focus on qualifications and experience.
While many educators describe themselves as passionate, she continued, their perspective on “passion” and what it means to be a passionate educator often has a very different meaning to her own.
“I believe lead educators must be reflective, able to take on new ideas and change their practice, even if something has been their practice for a long time. Trust me this is easy to say at an interview, harder to do in practice.”
The key to attracting authentically passionate and curious employees, Ms Rose believes, is to have multiple strategies and layers to the recruitment process.
“Although a person’s early childhood experience and qualification may get them the interview, this should not be the only criteria for the position,” she explained.
“Understanding how the person will integrate into the team is a critical element. I have also found that just because a person has a higher qualification or more experience than other applicants this does not always translate to the applicant being a successful addition to the team and work culture.”
In her current position Ms Rose uses a well-considered interview process that draws out the applicants personality and begins to give insight.
“To develop a team of reflective educators takes time, patience and plenty of feedback,” she said.
“The recruitment process I now use is centred around how the person ‘fits’ with the culture of the centre, regardless of how much experience they have. I back myself and the competence of the team that we can teach them the skills they need to be successful at Rosie’s if they are open to learn.”
Making the most of probation
Once an applicant has been successful in gaining a position, the probationary period is crucial for ensuring they are the right fit for the team, she continued, suggesting that the following ideas be integrated into the recruitment and probation process:
– Applicants complete an online personality test before the interview. (There are many free online tests available and this will give insight into traits of a person)
– Applicants are required to do a small (10 min) presentation on their early childhood philosophy.
– Applicants are given notice that they will be with a small group of children and an educator for a 20-minute period as an opportunity to demonstrate how they engage children. It is expected that they will come prepared for this. This is an excellent way to engage the children in the recruitment process by asking for their feedback on each person.
During the interview Ms Rose will also test the capacity of a prospective employee to take feedback on board by making a suggestion about how their resume could be improved, noting both their verbal feedback and body language. Throughout the probation stage she also provides opinions and suggestions on how practice could be improved to gauge an employee’s emotional capacity to receive feedback.
“As a leader I work hard to reflect on how successful the transition for a new team member has been and how adjustments can be made to improve the process.
“This reflection has guided a very detailed and integrated recruitment process, meaningful orientation process and a six month training program during their probationary period to lay a platform for success.”
Strong processes, heavy support
Once a new employee has come on board Ms Rose suggests making time for them to settle in, allocating a workplace buddy to ask questions of, and spending one on one time with them in the first months to set them up with the best chance to be successful.
“The more ad-hoc the process is, the less likely it is to be successful,” she explained.
“As a leader I see that building others’ capacity is my role and I need to prioritise my time to lead this type of discussion.”
“Investing in people is not quick and easy,” Ms Rose said in closing.
“It’s not giving feedback ‘on the fly’ or as we pass each other in the staffroom but prioritising focussed reflection, allocating uninterrupted time and being in the moment with your people and the processes.”
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