Hiring & Rentention Strategies for Daycare Managers
Intuition vs. Behavioral Science: Place Your Hiring Bets
Over the past 15 years, I’ve consulted with literally thousands of childcare center
directors on effective hiring and retention strategies. You would be amazed at how
many of them rely on gut instinct when making critical hiring decisions. You’d be
even more surprised at how many think they’re doing a great job…in spite of evidence
to the contrary.
Surprisingly, the directors relying most heavily on intuition can’t understand why
they’re constantly wrestling with high turnover and hard-to-manage staff. Still
more can’t understand why the person they loved in the interview on Friday wasn’t
the person who showed up for work Monday.
Don’t get me wrong. There are people with the rare gift for sizing up talent. The
problem is very few people have this gift and the odds are you aren’t one
Don’t take my word for it. Think of the last 10 people you’ve hired. How many of
them looked great on paper? How many knew exactly what to say in the interview?
How many received great referrals? How many did you just know were going to be the
answer to your prayers?
Now the questions get harder.
How many lasted longer than three months? How many wreaked more havoc in your center
than a tornado through a trailer park? More importantly, how many times did your
intuition prove accurate? If you’re like most of us, your gut proved right about
half the time…at best.
In other words, you might just as well have flipped a coin.
Experts agree the cost of turning over a childcare employee is roughly $4,000 to
$6,000 when you add up all replacement costs.
Think about it. The same director who wouldn’t consider playing the nickel slots
is making a $6,000 wager with every hiring decision. Who knew the childcare industry
had more gamblers than Las Vegas on a Saturday night.
Like gamblers, directors tend to remember the times they win and mentally block
out the times they lose. Both are convinced they won because of their superior insight.
They’re also equally convinced they’ll win again…regardless of the odds.
As a group, childcare owners and directors are some of the nicest people you’ll
ever meet. They are warm, trusting, and truly care about the welfare of children.
Unfortunately, those same characteristics are not terribly helpful when making hiring
Remember, the main criteria for hiring a successful childcare employee isn’t how
“nice” the person seems (a person can be very nice and still be a poor fit for the
classroom). It isn’t whether they would be a good friend (friends tend not
to make great employees). It isn’t even whether they have credentials (how many
employees with Master’s degrees have refused to help when the toilet overflows?).
It’s about whether a candidate is a good behavioral fit for the real world challenges
of the job.
Fortunately, there are proven behavioral tools (pre-employment assessments and structured
interviews) available that take much of the guesswork out of the hiring process.
They also save time, frustration and a great deal of money.
The best tools are specific to the position. Make sure they are based on an in-depth
behavioral analysis with people who actually do the job. Make sure the assessment
fully communicates important job requirements (there’s nothing worse than hearing
a new employee say, “I didn’t know I had to wipe runny noses.”)
It’s also important in today’s busy world to make sure the results are returned
in a timely manner (before the best candidate accepts an offer from your competitor
across the street). Most behavioral assessments are now available online so a director
can review results before an interview is even scheduled.
Last, but not least, make sure the company you choose has a proven track record.
Ask for documentation on results achieved by clients using their tools.
When used consistently scientific behavioral assessments have proven over 90% accurate
for hiring successful employees.
Whether you’re a high roller in Vegas, or a center director, any gambler will love
Mark Tinney is president of JOBehaviors, a
company that provides online job assessments in a
variety of industries, including childcare.
For more information call