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How to motivate your co-workers

Unfortunately, I would say we've all been there. You might be there right now - which is probably why you are reading this post! Perhaps you are on your lunch break, dreading returning to the room because your colleague doesn't seem to really give a damn about the work that they are doing. Or maybe you've just come home, frustrated that other educators in your service don't seem to want to be there or to pull their weight. 

(note - if this is not you... celebrate that! Go and show some love and gratitude to your awesome colleagues and enjoy the fact that your service has found "its people") 

But, if this is you - you are not alone. 

I visit a lot of services (well... pre-corona!) and deliver a lot of training sessions. I always encounter educators who simply don't appear to care about what they do, or seem bored/distracted/disinterested in their work. When this happens, I have several thoughts: 

  1. I wonder if they are okay today. Look - we all have bad days, days where going to work is a struggle or the thought of reading Wombat Stew one more time is going to tip us over the edge. 
  2. I wonder if this is their every day. Are they always this unmotivated? 
  3. Is this service the right fit for them? I strongly believe that we all have our place - the place where we feel at home and like we belong and yet sadly, many educators are not in their place. Belonging isn't just for the children.
  4. I wonder what motivates them. What makes them get up in the morning and come to work? Why did they even choose this work in the first place?

The fact is - it can be hard to motivate others unless you know more about them. When I was a director and the educational leader role became a part of our service, Tash (co-founder of Inspired EC) jumped at the opportunity. She was busting to take that role. One of the single most beneficial things that I saw her do in that role (and you can read more about it in our book Inspire, Communicate, Motivatewas to build a picture of each educator - to understand who they really were. She asked questions about why they chose to work in early childhood and what they loved about the role. She also asked what motivates them. Do extrinsic rewards play a part (benefits, accolades, monetary rewards, or compliments), or are they more intrinsically motivated? 

 

Now, you don't have to be the educational leader or nominated supervisor to do that, you could have this type of conversation with the educators you work with in your room. This is about better understanding the people that you work with - rather than simply writing them off as unmotivated or disinterested or lazy. 

 

Once you better understand your colleague, there are some really simple ways you can motivate them, including: 

  • Complimenting their practice, and making it meaningful. Like with children, a simple "good job" just doesn't cut it! Try something like "gee I love the way you handled that argument over the blocks - you were so calm and understanding of both of the children's perspectives." 
  • Leave them a little note telling them how much they are appreciated. 
  • Be a role model. It can be tempting, when you are working with someone who seems unmotivated or lazy, to sink down to the same level. It can be easy to think "well if she's not doing it, why should I?" But, I strongly recommend avoiding that temptation! Show up how you want them to show up. Set the example. 
  • Have an honest conversation. "I noticed that you seem a little flat this week. Is everything okay? Is there something I can do to support you?

Most of the time, things can be improved using some of these simple strategies. But, there will, unfortunately, be times where that is not the case. As a colleague, who has tried all of these things and still sees no improvement, it is important that you talk to your nominated supervisor. This isn't about "dobbing" or "tattling", this is about ensuring that the standard of practice in your service is of high quality for the children and families. As a nominated supervisor, it is not unkind to ask "is this really where you want to be or what you want to be doing?" I have asked this question many times. Often the question alone is enough to spark something within an educator and their motivation levels rise, and sometimes it raises thoughts that they may have been harbouring for a little while and they decide to seek out a new position, or a new path altogether. 

Let's be honest - it can be challenging sometimes to stay motivated in a job where the pay isn't what it should be, and you've been vomited on or had to duck to the chemist after work for headlice shampoo. But, if you have a really strong why, it makes it that much easier to see past those things. 

Know your why, and support your co-workers to know theirs. 

 

If you would like to know even more about Motivation, check out our mini course "Mindfulness and Motivation."

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