Girl boss 101: How to advocate for what you need.
Laying down a foundation for growth in the nanny field starts with being a strong advocate for yourself. As the industry evolves each year, nannies are becoming a community of great caregivers, strong voices, and promoters of a deeply valuable profession of men and women throughout the world. If you happen to be one of them, thank you. Thank you for dedicating your time, service, and heart to the children of the thinkers, creators, protectors, leaders, heroes, and helpers who are making a difference in their field of work. Your value is figuratively invaluable, but we know you need to make a realistic living and be happy in your work environment.
The two most common job related complaints we hear revolve around money and time. So, we built a checklist for you to build up the strength and knowledge to ask for what you need, instead of letting it simmer.
1. Believe in yourself and what you do.
You may be an “employee” of the family you work for, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a professional. Many nannies have been building their resumes for years, raising dozens of children and learning through each of those experiences. As in any job, with experience comes knowledge, efficiency, and proficiency in your field. The more time you put in, the more valuable you become. Your outlook on your professionalism and position is key to being able to talk to your employer about the changes you need.
2. Remember that no one can read your mind.
Think your employer is purposefully sabotaging your life or position by not bringing up what is bothering you? Think again. They probably have no clue! Help them out and set the stage for a positive discussion. Even if something has been negatively affecting you, remain professional about it. If you let it sit too long, you may end up acting differently around your employer or beginning to reset them. This isn’t fair to them, or you, so talk about it with them as soon as possible.
3. Remember to see the big picture.
In order to advocate for yourself, you need to see all sides of the topic of discussion. Bring it up to close friends or family members who may have a different point of view, or be able to share their experiences with you. It’s valuable for you to see each side of the discussion before you talk about it so you’re not blindsided by reactions that you didn’t expect. Be open, not narrow minded about what you’re asking for and it will help not only you, but your employer in finding a solution.
4. Determine exactly what it is you’re asking for.
Is there one negative aspect overtaking several positives? Are you putting in your two weeks notice before even talking to your employer about what is bothering you? Are you wanting more time to yourself, but don’t know what that looks like on a schedule? Make sure you’ve created the blueprint for what you need so you can tell your employer what that looks like. If not, their solution may be something that doesn’t fix your problem at all.
5. Keep emotion out of it.
Designing a positive conversation is the best way to state your position. Remember, this conversation isn’t about what you “feel”. Focus the conversation on what you need, rather than focusing on what you haven’t been getting. Make specific points, outline your current situation, bring up what you do well, bring up what you would like changed, and tell them why you deserve it. Stay calm, focused, and professional.
6. Don’t be entitled.
Parents don’t want to raise entitled kids, and they don’t want an entitled nanny either. Bring up what you do, why you do it, how well you do it, and how it equates to what you’re asking for. It’s incredibly important not to compare yourself to others, compare yourself to you. Just because your friend makes $20 an hour doesn’t mean that’s an industry standard that you deserve. Experience, job expectations, past salary history, degrees, professional training, certifications, location and the family’s budget all play a part in how much a nanny makes. Being a proactive advocate before you accept a position will ensure that you start off on the right foot and make sure you’re getting what you need, be it hourly wage, time off, schedule, workload, expectations, or benefits.
7. Keep moving forward even if you get denied.
We all have bad days, don’t let the day you were turned down about what you need be one of them. You have two choices when this happens. You can either move on in a professional manner by stating that the needs you brought up are too important to be without in an employment opportunity, or you can up your game to show your employer that you really do deserve what you asked for. If they say no, ask them if you can talk about it again and revisit the conversation in a few months. In that time, make sure they see your dedication, loyalty, and professionalism. Document milestones, learning experiences, changes you’re making to master tasks, and anything else that will show your employer that you really are a rock star. Advocating doesn’t always mean immediate change, but rather planting the seed of change.
Nanny contracts help iron out a lot of logistical details. If you don’t have a nanny contract, see if your employer is open to creating one with you. This will bring up conversations that need to happen about every important aspect of your job: wage, time off, expectations, benefits, and duration of employment. Make sure you have a contract that doesn’t automatically renew, but renews after a review of the current terms and any adaptations that need to be included moving forward. Asking for what you need is sometimes a really hard thing to do. The first time is always the hardest, but once you get the hang of it, it will be an incredibly valuable skill to have.