Man thinkingThis week we publish the final episode on responding to staff resistance. These commonly heard objections are “It’s harder for new staff to learn” and “It demands more of your true self.”

It’s harder for new staff to learn

“I can see experienced staff maybe doing this but how are new staff going to learn it if there are no guidelines and we treat every kid differently? The kids will use the lack of clear rules to play new staff.”

  • This is true, and so specific new employee orientation has to teach this way of thinking.
  • New employees should be taught a foundational trauma course
  • If the team can talk to each other and help each other, they can guide a new employee until the approach is more natural.

Big decisions, responses to large events, should be decided by the team and not individually.

A lot of how we expect our staff to respond to our kids is counter intuitive, different from how they were raised, and needs to be taught, learned and practiced. That is fine. We expect our staff to be skilled professionals. The more they get used to automatically considering what need a youth is trying to meet, what problem they are trying to solve, the more they will understand the power of a compassionate response. The more they pay attention to and speak about the relationship effects of behaviors, the more sense an opportunity to make amends will make. And the more they comprehend that these kids have not been taught emotion management skills, the more they will value skills teaching over punishment.

It demands more of your true self

“You have to be real with the kids in this new way of working. You have to be who you actually are. Then, when they continue to attack you or not change, it hurts all that much more. It even hurts more to say goodbye when they leave!”

  • This is true. That is why the work becomes more interesting, more involving, and more growth producing.
  • Understanding the meaning behind the child’s actions helps us not take it as personally.
  • It is important to pay attention to vicarious traumatization, and have regular forums to discuss how the work is affecting the employees.

Who wants a job where your main task is to keep a kid in his room when he is being punished? What greater satisfaction could there be than the chance to use the gifts that you have been given to change the life of a child? Meaningful work is what keeps people in jobs, and understanding that you are changing a child’s brain is the most meaningful work you could have. Not only will the child change, you also will be transformed and grow into a better person.

 Please let me know in the comments your response to these posts about responding to staff resistance. Do you have other objections that you hear? I’d love to discuss them. Do you have responses that have been effective for you? Please share them with the community in the comments below.

Click here if you would like a PDF of all these objections and responses.
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