When feedback is NOT fuel

We have this theme or saying at work that “feedback is fuel.” We pride ourselves on all having tough enough skin to accept constructive feedback, but it’s also strongly encouraged to the person giving the feedback that they do it in the most helpful, kind way possible. For the most part, I think as a company overall, we do a pretty good job of it. I’ve never received any feedback during my nearly three years here that ever felt like a personal attack or an attack on my integrity, and people generally assume the best intentions here all around. I can’t say that about any other place I’ve ever worked at.

So this morning, I had to tell our nanny that I was disappointed with her notes in our baby log that we ask her to fill out daily for Kaia. In the beginning when she started working here, she was pretty thorough about it. She would record all the things we asked her to: poops, pees, naps, and times for all the above; feeds and the amounts (when she had milk as her only food), then later on, foods she ate (and rejected), any fevers or difficulties. But if you look at the progression of her daily logs, they’ve declined in quality quite drastically: while she has always been consistent about recording poops, pees, and naps, she has stopped recording daily activities, and she’s pretty much never recorded any major milestones, which I told her would be new words, behaviors, or gestures. This previous Friday, the only note for activity was “playground.” The previous days were no better.

This felt unacceptable and a bit insulting, as I knew they didn’t JUST go to the playground. Plus, she told me that Kaia had said two new words: “outside” and “jacket.” So why didn’t she write this down? On top of that, the baby bathtub, which she is supposed to be cleaning weekly, was never cleaned the previous week. I called her out on that earlier in the week, and she said she “just forgot.” Okay, but she had already used that excuse previously when this was supposed to happen on a weekly cadence. Yet she’s been happy to talk on the phone while Kaia naps without this getting done. And over the weekend, when I checked the bathtub, there was not only still grey dirt on the top edges of the tub, but there were even traces of pink mildew, which I ended up scrubbing myself.

I also spent Saturday morning vacuuming under the dining table, the couch, and around the living room rug because there were endless food remnants that literally got everywhere that the nanny somehow had missed. And it really grated on my nerves that her cleaning job could be so sloppy. Why should I be spending my Saturday morning cleaning up after my nanny? I’m paying her to do this job after my child eats!

Well, I never got to addressing the poor floor cleaning. I only addressed the baby log because as soon as I said the notes were “not good” and “needed improvement,” and that “writing ‘playground’ was not enough detail, not everything you did, and doesn’t even cover new words,” she immediately put her face in her hands and started crying. Then, she proceeded to say that I pay her to be here to take care of my child, and she takes care of my child. Yes, I do pay her to take care of my child… which also includes filling out the baby log as we discussed and agreed upon in the contract, which also includes cleaning up after my baby’s meals! I’m not sure how any of this feedback is uncalled for or out of line. I told her that no one is perfect and everyone gets feedback when they work for someone; that is LIFE (for god’s sake, it was so frustrating to even say that out loud to someone who is almost twice my age). She barely responded and just said, “okay.” And that was really it.

I understand why some people are just anti having a nanny. It’s hard having someone that personal to you and your child and your home. There are real feelings to consider literally every single day, and there are also frustrating feelings to consider… like when they don’t think they deserve any negative or constructive feedback at all. In previous times of giving her feedback, she has refused to look me in the eye, she barely responds or says anything, and then she proceeds to avoid me the rest of the day. It’s so exhausting. And it really is completely mystifying to me that she’s so unprepared to receive such basic feedback. It’s not like I told her she tried to kill my child or put her in danger.

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