Rethinking traditional leadership development in the childcare sector

by External12 Sep 2013

The childcare sector suffers from high turnover and across the board pressure to improve worker qualifications and professional level standings. Here's how one company has tackled the issues.

The rules of engagement have changed in the Childcare sector. The need to offer targeted innovative leadership development to employees in the sector has never been more real. Attracting and retaining staff to work in early years’ education settings has long been recognisd as challenging given the myriad of retention factors that influence this workforce.

This is an industry with high turnover and across the board pressure to improve worker qualifications and professional level standings. Only About Children (Oac) has acknowledged the need to provide a rewarding, respected career with real growth potential.

Recognising the need for investment in a radical and innovative leadership development program, not traditionally seen in this sector, Oac partnered with Semann & Slattery to deliver a comprehensive 9-month leadership competency development program.

Experts in the area of leadership development within the Childhood Education sector, Semann & Slattery bring a philosophy that contemporary thinking and a solid evidence base to learning outcomes are critical factors to transforming leadership.

With this scope, Oac embarked on this long-term learning and development pathway launching ‘Oac Academy’. Under the banner of Oac Academy a new Leadership Program was designed to meet core leadership competency areas – a program to meet the growing professional and leadership expectations of Childcare professionals in management positions.

The Leadership Program is delivered to people leaders, emerging leaders and the identified key talent group. The program focuses on internalizing and embedding leadership practices which empower key talent within the Company to enhance people and self-leadership practices. The extended training schedule allows time for critical reflective thinking and network discussions with peers.

Anthony Semann, Director of Semann & Slattery describes the approach to leadership development by Oac as 'bold and brave - bold in that it holds a long term ambitious plan to rethink leadership development, brave in that is enters a new way of delivering professional learning in the human services space.’

The targeted goal of Oac Academy was to allow Oac’s talent pool participants to critically engage with the ways in which they come to understand and enact leadership practices as well as self reflect on individual styles, strengths and development areas.

Director of Human Resources for Oac, Kathryn Hutchins describes the initiative with enthusiasm,  “Creating a team of motivated employees who are equipped with skills to deliver quality leadership has been extremely positive. We hope to influence change through self reflection and skill development. We wish to stand out from the crowd in this industry sector.” Oac is committed to linking talent management practices, to leadership and emerging talent development. In addition the focus is to ensure leadership development is ongoing, aligning technical and behavioural development with cultural development.

The results from Oac Academy to date have been encouraging, participant feedback has been outstanding as Semann & Slattery have inspired a large group of employees across the organization to reflect on leadership competencies and put into practice tools and techniques in managing and coaching teams and individuals. Semann & Slattery have inspired a large group of individuals through thought provoking discussions and a strong understanding of the challenges faced by leaders in the early childhood education and development space.

It is an exciting future for Oac as they embark on implementing pragmatic yet innovative people and culture initiatives to attract, engage and retain motivated and rewarded employees.