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How to Resolve Conflict Between Staff and Parents

Conflicts cannot cease to exist, they are an integral part of what makes us human and dealing with conflicts is an important part of our emotional and moral growth. However, these tensions can disrupt the smooth functioning of your club and negatively impact the children’s experiences. Addressing them effectively can help to maintain a positive and co-operative atmosphere.

And don’t worry, despite your best efforts to set clear boundaries sometimes these situations are unavoidable! This is why we’re going to dive a little deeper into conflicts that happen between staff and parents at your out of school club and how you can work to resolve them.

Scenario 1: Miscommunication About Policies

Situation: The parent, let’s call her Mrs Johnson, is upset because she feels that the club’s policy on late pick-ups was not communicated. She has been charged extra fees, which she believes are unfair.

Clear Communication Channels:

Strategy: Acknowledge her frustration, but calmly remind her about your club policies and guide her toward the communication channels in which it was conveyed.

Steps you can take:

  • Arrange a private meeting with Mrs Johnson in a neutral setting or at least out of earshot of staff, children and other parents.

  • Review the club’s policy on late pick-ups and ensure it was documented and communicated.

  • Discuss with Mrs. Johnson the importance of understanding and adhering to club policies and offer her a written copy of the policies.

You could also consider making an exception in this one case but reinforce that the fee will stand for any future late pick-ups.

Outcome: By clarifying the policy and ensuring Mrs. Johnson is fully informed, the club can prevent similar misunderstandings in the future and maintain a positive relationship with parents.

Scenario 2: Disagreement Over Child’s Progress

Situation: Mr. and Mrs. Smith are concerned about their child’s progress and feel that staff are not providing enough support. This has led to several heated conversations between them and the staff.

Empathy and Understanding:

Strategy: In such a delicate scenario it is best to approach the situation with empathy actively listening to the parents’ concerns and demonstrating understanding.

Steps you can take:

  • Schedule a dedicated meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Smith to discuss their concerns in detail.

  • Train your staff on empathy and active listening skills through workshops and role-play exercises.

  • Develop an action plan that addresses the parents’ concerns and outlines steps to support their child’s progress.

Outcome: By showing empathy and understanding, the staff can build trust with the parents, ensuring that their concerns are addressed and creating a collaborative approach to supporting the child.

Scenario 3: Conflict Over Disciplinary Actions

Situation: A parent, Mr. Davis, is upset because he feels that the disciplinary action taken against his child was too harsh and unfair. He believes the staff did not handle the situation appropriately.

Mediation:

Strategy: In this type of scenario, consider introducing a neutral third party to mediate the conflict. This can help to remove any bias and address the concern in an objective way.

Steps you can take:

  • Train someone in basic mediation techniques for such scenarios, or bring in a more senior staff member to mediate.

  • Schedule a mediation session where Mr. Davis and the staff can discuss the incident and the disciplinary actions taken.

  • Encourage both parties to share their perspectives and work together to develop a fair and effective approach to discipline.

Outcome: With the help of a mediator, Mr. Davis and the staff can reach a consensus on how to handle disciplinary actions in the future, ensuring fairness and maintaining a positive relationship.

Scenario 4: Lack of Parental Involvement

Situation: Some parents feel excluded from the club’s activities and decisions, leading to a sense of disconnect and frustration.

Proactive Engagement:

Strategy: Engage parents proactively by involving them in club activities and decision-making processes.

Steps you can take:

  • Regularly seek feedback from parents through surveys and suggestion boxes.

  • Involve parents in the club’s activities and decision-making processes by offering volunteer opportunities and forming parent committees.

  • Organise regular parent meetings and social events to build a sense of community and encourage parental involvement.

Outcome: By engaging parents proactively, the club can build stronger relationships, ensuring parents feel valued and included in the club’s operations.

While these are common situations that arise, they are not an exhaustive list of concerns and situations that can occur at your club. It is always a best practice to ensure you have documented policies and frameworks that address these concerns.

Here are some policies you can adopt:

Parent Communication Policy:

Establish clear communication policies to ensure parents are well-informed and their concerns are addressed promptly.

Implementation:

  • Define preferred communication methods (e.g., email, phone, in-person).

  • Set response time expectations for staff.

  • Provide guidelines for professional and respectful communication.

Complaint Handling Policy:

  • Create a clear process for parents to file complaints and ensure these are handled effectively.

Implementation:

  • Document each complaint received and acknowledge receipt to the parent.

  • Investigate the complaint thoroughly and hold a resolution meeting with the involved parties.

  • Communicate the resolution to the parent and document the outcome.

Customer Service Training:

Include customer service skills and conflict resolution in interactions with parents as part of the CPD plan.

Implementation:

  • Offer workshops or online courses on customer service and effective communication with parents.

  • Track CPD progress and provide additional support as needed.

Parent Engagement Workshops:

Provide workshops focused on effective communication and engagement with parents, including case studies and best practices.

Implementation: Organise regular workshops and provide training materials. Encourage staff to apply best practices in their interactions with parents.

By using these strategies and policies, you can smoothly handle conflicts between staff and parents, fostering a more harmonious and cooperative environment.

Prompt and empathetic conflict resolution not only strengthens the relationship between staff and parents but also ensures a better experience for the children at your club.

We explore this topic in depth in our free guide which you can download below. It offers practical tips, strategies and tools to help you efficiently navigate the discomfort and misunderstandings.