Seven tips for getting your manager to listen to you

4th November, 2021

Written by Angela Bush

Bachelor of Education (ECE), Diploma of Nursing, Diploma of Teaching (ECE)
If I had a dollar for every time I had a teacher say “But how do I get my
manager to listen to me?” or “Yeah we really want to do it this way but our manager just won’t listen” I would be rolling in a pile of spondoolies laughing like a maniac.

But seriously, one of the chief concerns I hear from teachers and team leaders is that they just can’t convince their manager that their ideas are valid, or worth a try. And often, the concern is that the manager just has no understanding of what is really going on in the room.

Maybe you can identify with some of these; 

  • “We have a great idea for making our breaks work better, but we have to follow the roster that doesn’t really work for us.”
  • “Our manager constantly comes into the room and tells us to do more with our children. She thinks we are just sitting here doing nothing. But sometimes we have been really busy and the moment she walks in the room is the only time today that we have actually been able to sit and observe our children learning.”
  • “We would like to try a new way of planning for our children. But our manager just says No! We have to stick with the planning system that is here and we are powerless to change anything.”

Or some other version that is similar where the teachers have some great ideas, and would like to try these but they are just hitting a brick wall.

Sound familiar?

So how do you get your manager to listen and let you try new ways of
doing things?

Let’s start with what NOT to do...

1. First of all the worst thing you can do is complain, whinge or moan about the manager behind her back.

You know the scenario: you 
are so annoyed or frustrated that your manager doesn’t understand what is going on. So you talk about it to everyone EXCEPT her! Everyone nods and agrees with you, so why the hell does the manager not just get it?!

We can so easily forget that our managers have feelings too. So be honest and respectful. As the old saying goes “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” How would you feel if your team mates all moaned about you behind your back, and then never gave you the opportunity to hear your concerns or to address them? Your manager cannot listen to you, or be part of the solutions if you don’t actually talk to her!

"Integrity: Choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them." Brene Brown

2. Make an appointment to speak with your manager.

DO NOT bowl up to her when she has herarms full of papers and staplers and she is walking through on her way to the office and just start talking about your concerns. You have no idea what she is in the middle of, or what she is about to do, or what is on her mind at that time. If your concerns or ideas are important, then you both need appropriate time and space to discuss these uninterrupted. Either ask face to face or send an email “Could I please have 15 minutes of your time to discuss...” Tell her what it is that you want to discuss, so that she has some time to think about it before you meet. If this is an urgent issue, then let her know that this is something that cannot wait too long.

3. DON’T Tell your manager that you have a problem, and then not offer any solutions or alternatives.

NOPE there is nothing worse for a busy manager to hear nothing but problems from her team. If there are systems, processes or routines in your room or centre that are not working for teachers or children, don’t just tell the manager this.

Instead tell her very clearly;
- What the problem is.
- Why this is a problem (the impact on teachers and children).
- What your suggested solutions are. Try to come up with at least two potential solutions that you would be willing to try.

4. Do your research.

Make sure you fully understand the regulatory or compulsory requirements associated with this area of practice or system that you are wanting to change. Your manager will likely have a very good understanding of the rules, and often the systems and processes that are in place, tick all the regulatory requirements. So if you want to make changes, your new ideas will have to tick all the boxes too.

5. Make sure you can articulate your WHY clearly.

If this is something that you believe strongly in, if it is something that you know is important for children and teachers then you should be able to articulate why this is so. It might be that you refer to literature or research to back up your ideas. If you don’t really know why this is important for children or teachers, then why are you wanting to change it in the first place?

6. Suggest that the team be given two – four weeks to trial the new system/idea.

Let your manager know that you will take full responsibility for working out the details and communicating these to everyone involved. Reassure her that you will work with the team on any challenges or issues that arise, and make sure that these are well managed. Finally let her know that you will seek feedback from the team about the changes after the trial period and report back on the outcomes. And if this really doesn’t work, the team will revert back to the current system or continue to seek better alternatives.

7. Get help if you really need to.

If you are not confident to speak directly with your manager, or feel that you will stumble when it comes to explaining why this is so important, then enlist help. If you are someone who struggles with explaining your ideas, you need to make some notes or write an email first. Then ask a trusted colleague, friend or family member to read this and give you honest feedback. If necessary, take someone with you to the meeting to discuss your ideas with your manager. That way you will feel supported, and also have a witness to the conversation. In my experience, most managers genuinely want the best for their team, children and families. Managing an early childhood service is a complex and sometimes tricky affair. Every day there are new challenges, new requirements to meet, new people, budgets, and balls in the air. So have some empathy for your manager.

At the end of the day, your manager has the full responsibility of the health, safety, compliance and overall quality of your ECE service on her shoulders. She has a team of people that she is responsible for, and who have very high expectations of her. She has regulations that must be met. She has parents and families to attend to. And she possibly also has an employer or higher authority that she is also answering to. Teachers are quite rightly so focussed on the children and their own rooms, that they have very little idea of just how much their manager has on her plate.

Always always always behave with integrity, honesty and respect.

You are a professional who deserves to be treated with respect, and so is your manager.

Empty space, drag to resize
Have you seen our Members Club? 
Cost-effective access to over 100 webinars, courses
and resources on demand.

*Special teams rates available

Empty space, drag to resize
People who enjoyed this blog also liked 
Empty space, drag to resize
Webinars you may like
Empty space, drag to resize
Courses you may like 
Empty space, drag to resize
Want to stay up to date with our blogs and professional learning content?
Thank you!