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a word on wellbeing

June 1, 2022
4 minute read

Health and wellbeing has never been as high on the agenda as it is right now. Whilst the Coronavirus pandemic has been an extremely tough ride, one of the positive outcomes has been the floodlight it has shone on the importance of health and wellbeing.

What’s more, as our sector worked until we dropped, those outside the sector started to realise just how important the early years is, and we began to understand just how easily our health and wellbeing can be compromised when we don’t take care of ourselves.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I believe it takes a team to run a nursery or any other business.  As the founder of EYL and Codsall Community Nursery, the team around me are the back bone of what we do. Some of you may know that I have a long term health condition and recently, that took a bit of a turn for the worse. Throw in a few personal challenges and this independent, decision making, entrepreneurial CEO fell into a hole that I had never been in and didn’t know how to get out of.

For a while I styled it out, put on the game face and battled on, but I wasn’t kidding anyone. Our team know each other and they know me. We support each other. So when I dropped a few balls and missed some deadlines they knew immediately there was something wrong.

Whilst I was struggling to find the words to explain how I felt, unable to admit things were challenging and having a huge confidence crisis, my team totally had my back. Buts what’s even more brilliant is that they supported me the way they knew I would want and need. There weren’t any tokenistic gestures, get well cards or deliveries of face packs and chocolates. The support was genuine and unique to me.  They picked up the dropped balls and rescheduled the missed deadlines. Most importantly, they asked 2 specific questions….

  1. Where do you need me to be?
  2. What can you delegate to me?

These questions meant I could delegate work tasks without feeling like I had failed or was letting anyone down.  It meant I could switch off and do what I needed to do, knowing that my businesses were in safe hands. It meant I had time to recover. More importantly, they got tough with me. They wouldn’t allow me to sink, they called me out and made me remember who I was. I will be forever grateful.

Sharing this isn’t easy, but its important that we do share stories like this. What I was able to see and feel was the importance of colleagues who care. For years, I had been told, never make friends at work, keep colleagues and friendships separate, and I always agreed that was the best way, making sure I didn’t over step the line. But it simply isn’t true. Without the love, compassion and friendship I felt from my team, it may have been a different outcome. I had the confidence that I could share my feelings without ridicule or losing face, and that the team would do what needed to be done.

And I think this is what makes early years such an amazing sector to work in. We innately care about others. We want the best for those around us. One of the most important things we can do as leaders is build a work culture that embraces friendships and teamwork. Leaders who spend time nurturing their culture will reap the rewards of a supportive, trusting and open team that pull together and help each other, resulting in great work and brilliant outcomes. Teams with this culture have low staff turnover, and many find recruiting a little easier as people want to come and work with a great team.

What’s more, having a culture that allows people to share how they feel, and says ‘it’s ok not to be ok’ can make all the difference. Knowing your team, what they need from you and how you can support in a unique way is important to wellbeing. Treat Fridays and lavender in the staff room are great, but nothing beats really understanding what someone needs, and offering that to them is a game changer.

Just because you are the manager or leader, you don’t have to have it all worked out. You too can say ‘im struggling and need some support’, and thats ok. We don’t have to know all the answers, we just need a circle of people who care. Build that circle and develop your team culture and see the difference it makes.

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