How to manage the situation
Conflict between practitioners in the early years can be caused for a variety of reasons including ego, personalities and a lack of leadership and management intervention. Not only can conflict between practitioners cause major problems to practitioners such as bullying, harassment, formal grievances and low self esteem it can also have a lasting effect on the atmosphere of the setting for children and parents. This can cause a spiral of low morale in the building and lead to practitioners leaving their jobs.
Children need a safe and secure environment to explore, investigate, critically think and actively learn. However if you have conflicting practitioners who are having disagreements or are creating a negative atmosphere the children and parents will quickly be aware there is a problem and this will impact greatly on their levels of trust and development.
It is important that managers and leaders take actions to quickly deal with the situation, following all company policies and procedures and dealing with the matter before it gets out of hand. As part of the early years management and leadership team it is important you are level headed and do not take sides when dealing with the matter, think of the best outcomes for all practitioners. There are two routes you can take with the conflicting situation; you can either deal with it informally and formally.
Many situations can be resolved by listening to both sides and bringing them together to listen and talk to one another. Often practitioners just need to feel that they have been heard. It is important that managers and leaders have these difficult conversations and start the conversations in an appropriate way. Make sure you take the time to hear both sides of the story and don’t make any rushed decisions about how to deal with the situation.
Formal investigation in the early years
If the early years practitioner is not happy with the outcome of the informal investigation or feel management have neglected to deal with the situation they may choose to file a formal grievance. This has then becomes a formal investigation. Ensure you follow all early years company policy and procedures and receive outside support from a legal company if necessary. The grievance procedure will usually involve fact finding meetings will all involved before management decide an appropriate course of action to deal with the problem.