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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 of them.

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 decisions.

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 those odds.

Mark Tinney is president of JOBehaviors, a
company that provides online job assessments in a
variety of industries, including childcare.

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