Case Study: Managing The Challenge Of Change. Smith, A. And Langston, A.

Case Study: Managing the challenge of change. Smith, A. and Langston, A. (1999) Policy change has been a large factor in the management change in today’s early years services. Many people are cautious towards change due to the fear of the unknown or the failure that it may cause with implementation; therefore, it is sometimes hard for managers. Day at el. (1998) identified three types of response to change; the rational adopter, the stone age obstructionist and the pragmatic sceptic.

Managers need to be ready for staffs reactions and the way in which change affects each individual, negativity is normal in these situations as for many it means aspects of work will change. Managers should prepare themselves for this and facilitate themselves with the skills required to cope with staff’s reactions towards change. Through the use of communication and interpersonal skills management can optimise their own and their employees performance to implement change and thus ensure all persons involved with the setting are confident and happy.

Hay, S (1997, p13) explains ‘Embracing change and the turbulence it can cause requires maturity in a manager. Faced with the moving target of quality childcare, change is part and parcel of everyday nursery life… ‘ What problems are arising with the proposed changes and why? Many of the staff at the school feel hostile towards the changes that are being implemented in the setting. Staff believe their skills and qualifications are being undervalued, as management are employing staff who are not trained to the same level as themselves and resent the fact that they shall still be working alongside them.

The teacher status, in their opinion is being disestablished and that the childminders are being given undue credit and status. The security of the children in the setting is also being disputed by staff as they feel that the childminders are not competent enough in the issue of as they lack training and may be unaware of factors which could threaten the security of the children.

Edgington, M, 1998, offers three models of early years team;The rigorous and challenging team; characterised by high levels of professionalism and outward looking approach to development, debates with possible disagreements and challenges within a strong belief system and high standards. At present there are possibilities that the team at Damson Lane Primary School will become a ‘turbulent team’ if issues are left unresolved. Established members of the team who are finding the new changes difficult could be referred to as ‘stone age obstructionists’ as they feel comfortable with the way in which they used to work and fear change.

What can Beth do to promote the changes and deal with the conflict? Beth needs to show the appreciation for the staffs work in order for them to feel valued in the setting. She also needs to acknowledge the feelings and concerns of all staff and improve communication ensuring that changes are discussed with staff. The team needs to spend time discussing factors which they are unhappy with and build strong relationships, every individual should be given the chance to voice their opinions and input into the implementation of the changes. Beth should promote co-operation and help resolve any, and hopefully prevent future conflict.

Beth needs to re-assure staff that their ideas and work are valued. The issues raised in regards to the practice carried out need to be dealt with to make staff feel as ease. Beth needs to spend time reflecting on how she feels about the changes in order for her to provide encouragement. If staff are able to see her confidence regarding the changes then this will make staff aware about the positive aspects of change. Smith and Langston (2000, p74) explain,’The degree of peoples resistance to change depends on the kind of change involved and how well it is understood’

It is a necessity as Beths role as manager to lead an effective and successful team, therefore when any change occurs she needs to make a conscious effort to include all staff and make sure they feel comfortable with regards to change.


Day, C. Hall C. & Whittaker, P. (1998) ‘Developing Leadership in Primary Schools. ‘ London: Paul Chapman. Edington, M. (1998) ‘The Nursery Teacher in action: Teaching 3, 4 ; 5 year old (2nd ed)’ London: Paul Chapman Smith, A. & Langston, A. (1999) ‘Managing staff in Early Years Settings’ London: Routledge.

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