Fostering teamwork in child care has never been more important than it is now. Building strong early childhood teaching teams has far-reaching implications for educators, children, their families and your organization. However, there are record numbers of early childhood educators leaving the sector. With so many educators moving to other careers, it is increasingly difficult for organizations to foster a culture that supports individual and team well-being. 

Startling survey results

In a survey of educators who left their jobs in ECE, it was not surprising that the main reason educators stated for leaving the sector was low wages. Closely behind this, 34% of respondents stated the culture/quality of the centre as their reason for leaving. Supporting these findings, a survey of early childhood educators’ well-being conducted in 2021 by ACECEO and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care paints an alarming picture. 

The survey explored educator’s mental health, well-being and working conditions and revealed the following:

  • 54% report decreased job satisfaction
  • 89% report an increase in work-related stress
  • 43% report that they have considered leaving the sector 
  • 13% were actively looking for opportunities outside the sector. 

With these sobering statistics, it’s time to think outside the box and focus on increasing job satisfaction for early childhood educators. In addition to wage increases, a focus on improving workplace happiness is urgently required. How can we build quality work environments that nurture educators’ well-being

Early childhood educators sitting at table and talking

What defines a quality work environment?

The Ontario Early Childhood Sector Decent Work Charter defines a quality work environment as demonstrating “commitment to establish and maintain structures and resources that promote belonging, inclusion, diversity, well-being, engagement and expression in the work environment.”

In addition to budget increases, we can do more to ensure educators’ well-being and mental health. It is also essential to focus efforts on improving the culture of individual learning services and building quality work environments. Is a focus on fostering teamwork in childcare settings needed?

Want to build stronger teams? Is it time for a new focus? 

Where do you start addressing the issue? An often overlooked approach is to focus on the different personality types of your staff and how the dynamics between them impact the relationships within each teaching team. When staff feel connected to the people they work with, it affects their happiness and well-being and directly influences motivation. Teamwork in child care is essential when educators work closely with each other daily. And just like a family, you are guaranteed to have various personality types within your teaching teams. 

Once you identify the different personality types, you can begin nurturing a positive culture and team dynamic. Before considering these ideas, it is essential to distinguish between personality types and personality traits. 

Traits are durable characteristics of a person that produce an effect on behaviour. Types are collections of traits that occur together in some individuals.     

Teamwork in child care – Five personality types

Let’s take a look at some of the personality types you might have within your teaching teams. 

The leader

An empathetic leader is an effective listener and communicator. ‘Leaders’ are skilled at breaking down walls that are holding others back and are very compassionate people. They use their compassion and empathy to forge partnerships with others. They are great role models. 

A leader is not necessarily someone working in an official leadership position. Instead, they may take the lead in centre-life projects or areas. They thrive on leading others with passion, enthusiasm, motivation and inspiration. They make others feel valued and work hard to understand the best way to work alongside their peers. They lead with resilience, vision, influence and positivity. They have a knack for uncovering the strengths of others. 

People look to leaders for guidance, encouragement and acknowledgement. They foster teamwork in child care by bringing out the best in others in a nurturing and respectful manner. 

The innovator

If a problem needs solving, the innovator is quick to get in there, working to find a solution. They enjoy using their knowledge and thirst to understand more for practical purposes. They are motivated by creating or fixing things, and people often turn to them when they are stuck or faced with challenges. They bring a diverse range of talents and skills to a team. Their ideas and insights help a team focus on issues and experience breakthroughs that can transform any project. Innovators are visionary and often conceive new directions during times of uncertainty 

The analyst

Analysts love detecting patterns, brainstorming, observing, and interpreting data and information from various sources. When others are scratching their heads and wondering where to begin on a project, an analyst jumps in and dives deep into finding solutions. They are effective communicators and share their conclusions and recommendations with the team. They may not view themselves as creative but think outside the box when finding solutions to big problems. Analysts are critical thinkers and are in no rush to jump to conclusions. Being rational and strategic thinkers, they focus on facts and can incorporate short and long-term goals into their work.

The creative

Being creative is not a label given solely to artists, singers, musicians and writers. Creativity looks different for different people, and a creative team member is invaluable when a team needs original ideas or approaches. They are the person who often contributes to meetings with “We should…”, “wouldn’t it be great if…”, and “I had a thought…”. They sometimes seem to have big ideas that have the potential to cause chaos. Still, when paired with another team member, such as an analyst, they can make a dynamic duo. Their thoughts and suggestions can help teams reach new heights and achieve great things. Their creativity can contribute to transformational change when harnessed and framed correctly.

The planner

Every team needs a person who just “gets stuff done.” The planner can create and implement strategies to execute new ideas and projects. They make things happen! Planners thrive on completing tasks and are great at managing multiple moving parts at once. They have excellent time management and executive functioning skills. They balance the opinions of others and pull things together to achieve great results. They are dependable team players, reliable, punctual and responsible. They like to meet deadlines and have an innate ability to improve the efficiency of the wider team. 

Four early childhood educators in meeting

Building stronger teams by identifying personality types

Having various personality types in a teaching team brings balance and efficiency to any workplace. It is crucial, though, to understand that some people may display multiple personality types. It is not always so black and white! Different personalities have unique drivers and motivators and understanding each individual’s unique learning, working and communication style is essential. Some people work better in groups, and some work better alone. Some are self-starters, and others prefer more direction. 

Disclaimer: It takes time to discover your team’s unique personalities and how they can effectively work together. But taking steps to begin the process of your team understanding not only each other but also themselves will increase their job satisfaction over time. Teamwork in child care makes the dream work!

How to discover your team’s personality types?

When thinking about building stronger teams, there are many different profiling methods and tools to help. They can help you reveal the personality types and individual strengths of your teaching teams. No two tools are the same, and they all offer different benefits. Here are a few suggestions for assessment tools that will help you understand and nurture a workplace culture where teams thrive and work more effectively together. 

The Enneagram 

The Enneagram assesses how well a person aligns with nine common personality types. Each type has a set of dominant behaviours, fears and motivations. It helps people gain an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

Myers-Briggs 

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator helps to identify a person’s tendencies across four categories and can support you in determining which employees collaborate best with each other. It helps a person discover their own unique information processing style, decision-making process and much more.

DiSC

The DiSC test highlights each team member’s interpersonal styles. It is a fantastic tool that helps employees better understand themselves and each other.

High 5 Test

This test helps a person identify their top 5 dominant personality traits. Using this test, a team can discover their similarities and differences with each other.

Gallup Strengths Finder

This online test measures the intensity of a person’s talents in each of the 34 identified themes. It essentially identifies the things a person does best naturally.

child care teachers

Whichever tool you use to understand the personalities and strengths of your teaching teams, it is essential to remember one thing. When working on a common goal, no two team members’ contributions will look the same, which is ok. No two people think or act the same way and are driven by many motivators. Variety is a strength within a team. Uncovering the unique personality type of each individual within a group helps to build empathy and understanding and ultimately strengthens the relationships of every person within a team. 

Posted by Sonya McIntyre

Sonya was born in Lower Hutt and went to Rata Street Kindergarten and Petone Kindergarten. A qualified ECE, she studied at Victoria University in Wellington and has worked with home-based educators, in community-based childcare and in kindergarten. With childhood memories of reading books and writing stories, combined with her passion for all things social media, Sonya segued into her role with us at Storypark as social media manager.


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