Parents who work in an office are familiar with the (sometimes dreaded) annual performance review process. But while reviews can cause some grumbling, they do also provide something very important—much-needed feedback from your boss and (hopefully) some guidance on what you can do to continue growing in your position.
So should you implement a performance review for your nanny? There’s definitely value in making sure you and your caregiver are on the same page, and it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. A performance review is one way to do that. Here’s how to decide what’s right for your family and caregiver and what your review should cover.
A Formal Review vs. Ongoing Feedback
Ongoing feedback is critical to any nanny/family relationship, but whether or not a more formal annual review is needed depends on the situation. If your nanny has a monthly or annual contract with your family and/or is with your family most days a week—such as a full-time nanny or a regular after-school sitter—a formal review when it’s time to renew the contract probably makes sense.
For date night sitters or other less regular sitters, a formal process might be unnecessary, but there’s no reason you can’t establish the expectation that you will be providing ongoing feedback and giving them the opportunity to share any concerns or comments they might have. Moreover, if you want something in between, regular “touch base” meetings, set up to be check-ins vs. performance reviews are another possibility. If you have a regular daily or weekly sitter these could be monthly or quarterly.
Once you decide whether you need a formal or informal review process, make sure your sitter is aware that these conversations will be a normal part of the job. That will alleviate some fear and uncertainty about what a “performance review” or even just a “check-in” might entail.
Having a Formal Review with Your Nanny
Regardless of how you decide to approach a review, here’s what you’ll want the conversation to cover:
1. Always Start with the Positive
Any good boss knows that kicking off a performance review with all of the problems and challenges an employee has faced over the last week, month, or year is a recipe for disaster. So when you sit down with your sitter, start by communicating what is working. This is also a great opportunity to express your appreciation for their hard work and call out their strengths. (Best bedtime stories, ever? Tell them!). You can also get some informal feedback from your kids and share their comments as well. Just ask your kids, “What’s your favorite thing about your sitter?” You’ll get funny and sweet responses that are sure to make your sitter smile.
2. Review Job Responsibilities
Performance reviews are a perfect time to revisit your sitter’s job responsibilities, recognize the areas where she’s kicking butt and troubleshoot the duties that could use a refresher.
3. Give Them the Heads Up About Changes
These conversations are also a great opportunity to let your sitter know about upcoming changes—to your schedule, the kid’s routine, or your family’s childcare needs.
4. Talk Compensation
Want your nanny to take on dinner duty a few nights a week or do some light cleaning during naps? You’ll need to boost her pay when adding more to her plate. Or maybe she’s just knocking it out of the park as your kid’s favorite sitter and it’s time for a raise. Use the performance review to discuss any increases in their rate.
5. Bring Up Concerns About the Kids
Is one of your kids struggling at school? Is potty training not going well? Is a discipline style the wrong approach? Now is the time to bring these concerns to your sitter’s attention and get on the same page about how to tackle any tricky situations.
6. Get Their Feedback
Parents may not realize that their sitter might have a review or two of their own to give the family. In fact, there are probably plenty of things your sitter wants to tell you, but maybe haven’t felt like they have had the opportunity to do so. Give your sitter space during these conversations to ask questions, provide feedback about your kids and your management style, as well as what is working well and what isn’t. Allowing them an opportunity to give feedback will make them feel more empowered in their position.
7. Discuss What’s Not Working
This is the hard part: sometimes a sitter’s areas for improvement go beyond one or two minor issues and require some tough conversations. While bringing up these concerns can be uncomfortable, it’s critical for your family. Provide constructive feedback, and ask for their ideas about how their performance can be improved or why they think there are some trouble spots. And be real about the situation: sometimes a sitter or nanny just isn’t the right fit and no amount of feedback is going to change that. But in most cases, you and your sitter will be able to work through the rocky stuff and come out the other side a better team for it.