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 sitter? There’s definitely value in making sure you and your sitter 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 sitter and what your review should cover.

A formal review vs. ongoing feedback

Ongoing feedback and constant communication are critical to any sitter/family relationship, but whether or not a more formal annual review is needed depends on the situation. If your sitter 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. Regardless of how you decide to approach a review, here’s what you’ll want the conversation to cover:

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 her hard work and call out her strengths (Best bedtime stories, ever? Tell her!). 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.

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 tune-up.

Give her 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.

Talk compensation

Want your sitter 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 her rate.

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.

Get her feedback

Parents may not realize that their sitter might have a review or two of her own to give the family. In fact, there are probably plenty of things your sitter wants to tell you, but maybe hasn’t felt like she has had the forum to do so. Give your sitter the 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 her an opportunity to give feedback will make her feel more empowered in her position.  

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 herfor ideas about how her performance can be improved or why she thinks there’s 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.

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