Some Key Attributes of Childcare Workers Can’t be Taught

When I run a children’s program, I spend a lot of time looking for good staff. Specifically, I’m looking for traits and attributes that I believe really can’t be taught. One example is the desire to work with children, including the desire to see them do well and be happy–basically, a concern and love for children. I don’t think a person can work successfully with children without this. Another important trait is the ability to be alert and assertive when supervising children. To succeed at working with children in a class room setting, one has know be vigilant about what’s happening and then appropriately respond to inappropriate behavior. To be clear, this also includes knowing when to ignore certain behavior, effectively encouraging positive behavior, and acting in proactive ways to avoid inappropriate behavior (e.g., being well-organized and planned, among many other things). Some of this can be taught, but my sense is that the alertness and assertiveness that I have in mind is very difficult to teach. It seems linked to a person’s personality and desire and enjoyment of working with children (or people in general).

I’m curious to hear if you guys agree with me. Are these attributes critical for working successfully with children? Do you believe that these attributes largely can’t be taught or developed? If you believe they can be taught, what are some ways of teaching and training someone to develop these attributes?

What Are the Top Ways Managers Screw Up?

See this thread and add your responses:

Here are some comments and questions:

  • Reading the comments makes me wonder about the number of people that can actually be good managers. It seems like workplaces are teeming with bad managers. A part of me feels like many people could be competent, but not great, managers–if they developed the appropriate skillset. But many of these would have some flaws that would prevent them from being truly excellent. Maybe the pool of great managers is really, really small.
  • Another possibility is that many workplaces either don’t value good management or don’t properly develop good managers. In either situation, employees with the potential to be good managers never realize this. By the way, failure to value or develop good management is often a function of a good management. That is, the quality of management at the top can have a huge impact of the quality of management in the layers below them. This is one reason good management is so critical!
  • In government, if the incentives for excellent work is minimal, this will likely create an workplace that will lack good management. The disincentives for good managements will be too high and the incentives will be too low.
  • I almost feel like if one works under a manager that is not awful, one should be grateful. It’s the most one can reasonably expect, which is a sad statement.

The Failure to Prosecute People Who Committed Crimes is a Part of Our Criminal Justice System

A thread from a UNC law professor goes over that. The thread started in response to a headline that said the FBI and DOJ were considering not charging all the rioters at Capitol on January 6. Some people naturally reacted with outrage to that, and Prof. Byrne Hessick wrote a threat in response:

I completely understand why people are angry about this. But the truth is that the criminal justice system routinely fails to prosecute people who are obviously guilty of crimes. It’s at the very core of modern criminal justice enforcement. It’s a serious problem that most Americans don’t know this. But we routinely fail to prosecute people who have obviously committed crimes. We just don’t have the capacity to pursue all of those cases. Part of the problem is that we’ve made too many things illegal. Another problem is that we’ve refused sufficiently fund the prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges we’d need for full enforcement. But we also don’t have the cultural commitment to full enforcement. This isn’t just a question of partisan politics. And it isn’t just about race either. We’ve literally built a system predicated on partial enforcement of the criminal laws. In sum, if you’re angry about this, I understand. But that anger probably means you need to pay more attention to the criminal justice system generally, and not just when a bunch of losers storm the Capitol. A big hello to everyone in my mentions who are here to tell me that *they* know how prosecutors use their discretion to prosecute only certain groups of defendants. Please share your dataset with those of us who actually studprosecutors’ decisionmaking. We’d love to see it!

I wanted to chime in and say that this resonates with me, based on my work experiences. I think what she’s saying applies to many, if not most situations, that involve the enforcement of rules–specifically, situations where pursuing every infraction and meting out the appropriate consequences is not practical. Workplaces and schools are some examples.

What are the implications of this? And is there an alternate system that would prosecute every infraction, and would that be desirable? What are these systems? I’ll try to answer that in the rest of this post (in the comments section).

To What Extent Should a Manager’s Evaluation Be Based on the Performance of Their Subordinates?

From the start of having a “real” job, I quickly concluded that the quality of management was crucial. I went so far as believing that, as a society, we should focus on training and developing people to be better managers and leaders. Every work will require and benefit from individuals with good management and leadership skills. One of the many ways management is so critical is that it has a tremendous impact on the employee–both in terms of the latter’s productivity and job satisfaction. I suspect this is obvious and banal, and yet to what extent are managers evaluated based on their employees’ performance? Now, managers don’t have complete control over their employees–and in some situations their authority can be quite limited–so let me rephrase the question: To what extent are managers evaluated based on their actions relating to getting the best performance out of their subordinates? In my work experience, managers aren’t really evaluated on this. Now, I’ve always assumed two things: 1) That managers should be evaluated on how well they help their employees perform, and 2) this is common practice in other organizations and businesses. I’m wondering if these two assumptions are correct, and I’m interested in hearing from others, based on their experience and perceptions.

Your Opinions and Perceptions–What Has Changed and What Has Stayed the Same?

If you’re like me, you have experienced what I’m about to describe. At some point starting in my mid-30s, I started becoming aware of strongly-held ideas in my 20s didn’t have much merit. In these moments, not only did I realize I was wrong, but I would sometimes feel foolish, especially when I recalled the ideas I passionately held and argued for. In many instances, I held these ideas because of ignorance and lack of experience. Once I acquired more of both, I realized that those ideas didn’t have much merit.

At the same time, there have been other opinions that seemed to have stood the test of time; or I at least haven’t gotten to the point where I realize these opinions also don’t have merit; it wouldn’t surprise me if, after more knowledge and experience, I realize these opinions also are pretty worthless. In this thread, I’m interested in hearing examples of both, for those willing to share. I’ll try to give some examples of both soon.