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Diffusing Toxic Preschool Workplaces

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

You may consider this unfortunate, but as a leader, I’ve had experience working within toxic work settings. Yes my hand is raised!

If that sounds like you, perhaps it's time to take those boxing gloves off and connect with this brief post.

You may be familiar with:

- Dissatisfied staff

- Unhealthy work relationships

- Unspoken angst (or perhaps verbalized angst!)

As a leader in early years, sometimes a team can be difficult territory to navigate. To be authentic and not overly cliche, I completely understand. I’ve lead a number of preschools over a 15-year span and here are some things I’ve learned:

  1. Know yourself - your strengths, abilities, weaknesses, even prejudices. Awareness starts with you.

  2. Document those strengths. Make it visual. Write it down. Visual reminders are good.

  3. Stay up to date with your personal as well as professional development.

  4. Listening is a very, very handy soft skill.

  5. Take time to check in with your team periodically. Being intentional with a professional, respectful level of connection is absolutely okay.

Here’s a brief story.

I have worked with teams where teachers refused to converse with each other. It bothered me. I wondered about the root of the hostility. With the benefit of coaching skills I understood that one of the major disrupters was a breakdown in communication.

How have I resolved such issues in the past? By ( as we say to preschoolers) 'practicing my listening' and spending time on coaching staff. The power of coaching lies in defining safe parameters and finding avenues to change perspectives. I have found that people want to be heard and seen. It takes time, but the results are worth it.

My story ended successfully. Or should I say the team was able to press the reset button and change direction?

Here’s feedback from a few of my coaching clients:

"Thank you for everything! I will definitely be singing and shouting about your excellent services from the mountain top!" | Head of Science Department, Dubai
"Thank you for your time today. It has been very insightful and empowering!" | Entrepreneur, UAE
"Coaching sessions have given me a new perspective. Instead of looking at the enormity of the problem, my issues were broken down into bite-size, manageable, chunks. The sense of overwhelm and dread that I felt has been greatly reduced".

Leaders, to arrange a 15-minute discovery call, please click here for my calendar.

Say no to those unnecessarily toxic settings.

Patricia Mezu is the founder and director of Content With Words, a subsidiary Professional Minds.

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