Questions Program Managers Often Ask

As program mangers lead their programs they have great ideas about what they want their program to be like.  As they began their leadership, they often find themselves ground down with management tasks that take up a lot of time.  Things like keeping up with billing and accounts payable, managing the building, making sure everything is working properly, making sure children are well fed and making sure playgrounds are in satisfactory shape and many other things that take so much time.  They also have to greet parents and listen to their concerns, as well as listen to staff concerns and help them solve problems.  It seems like the days pass and the program manager never has time to work on making the program great.  This is a normal occurrence.

When these things happen, program managers begin to feel like they are not making a difference.  Oftentimes, their dreams go by the wayside.  You may be asking questions like the following:

  • Do you ever wonder how you can lead your team to plan workplace values that reflect how you want your program to be seen in the community? 
  • Do you feel like you are constantly putting out fires in the workplace?  
  • Do the goals of your program take a back seat to the fires created by your team?
  • Do you face problems that seem impossible to solve?
  • Does staff indecision & lack of initiative cause your program to not make progress?
  • Do you feel that supervising staff causes more problems than it solves?
  • Does staff evaluation make your staff feel valued and supported or is it a dreaded necessity?
  • When you want your program to make some improvements, is motivating your staff to follow through a nightmare?
  • Do you know how to motivate your staff to excel and lend their excellence to one another?
  • Do you have a plan for your program’s future? Do you have strategies for implementing the path to the future?  

When you face questions like these, its hard not to be discouraged.

But, you’re in luck.  This is what this website if all about.  Juanita is going to help you solve many problems.  It will be a good idea to join one of the group coaching teams where you can share problems and listen to ideas created by other program managers.  In these groups, we will talk about many different problems that program managers face.

Today, I want to help you with just one of these problems.  One of the hardest things to do is to make sure staff feel accepted and valued.  That’s really hard to do when sometimes they create so many problems for you to help solve.  As you go about your day, think about how you can value staff.  When you’re in their rooms, watch for good things they do each day.  Yes, sometimes this is hard, but it’s like with children.  You look for the good and ignore the negative as long as its not hurting anyone.  As you look for the good, make sure to tell them what you are impressed with.  “When Danielle came in upset about her mom leaving, you handled her greatly.  You simply understood what she was feeling and told her so.  Getting her to draw a picture for her mom about how she felt was an insightful plan.  It gave Danielle something to do that helped her focus on telling her mom how she felt.  This immediately helped her feel better.  What a great idea you had.  I was really impressed.”

This is just one idea of ways to support staff and help them know you are noticing what they do.  Another example could be, “Natalie, I was really impressed with how you helped Mrs. Applebee feel better about what you were doing to help Suzanne read.  I know she really wanted you to go over words with her, but you told her how you read with the children every day and help them learn new words related to your theme, as well as words they want to write.  I think she began to understand that you really are helping her with beginning reading.”

Little things like this really help staff know you are supporting them.  Another idea is to leave notes on the staff break room bulletin board about great things you see staff do.  Besides just telling them, you are leaving notes for everyone to read.  For example,  “Mrs. Wilson rubbed children’s backs at rest time and told one child who was not tired some quiet things he could do.”  This tells everyone what you think is important and also lets them know you are watching and supporting each of them.  When they begin to learn this, this feel they can trust you and that you will give all of them great ideas.

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