Blackball Pitfall

I got an email from our former nanny last night, telling me I'd be getting a call on Monday for a reference. She worked for us just under a year and that was more than 3 years ago. She was a mediocre nanny. She was apparently fired from her last position (I don't have any idea why). She is one of those nannies who thinks she knows more than the parents and at times did the complete opposite of what I asked her to do because she thought I was wrong. All that said, she's not a bad person and I don't want to blackball her and after 3 years, she could have changed her ways (but then why was she fired?) What should I do? Refuse to give a reference? Give a mediocre reference? Lie? Help! - Anonymous


workingmom said...

Stating just the facts is not blackballing a nanny......"she worked for us for less than a year, and during that time she was a mediocre nanny who thought she knew more/better than me, as the parent, and did the opposite of what I asked because she thought I was wrong."

Then be prepared to give one or two examples of the times she did the opposite of what you asked. That was YOUR experience with her; don't invalidate it because you don't want to be perceived as "mean".

It's nice that she's 'not a bad person', but what matters here is what kind of nanny is she? If her nanny skills need improvement, then so be it. You don't know if or how she has improved since working for you - that's her responsibility to demonstrate to this future employer if and how she has grown since.

If she wants to play off your reference as a difference in expectation or mindset, (and the new family buys it), not your problem. You were truthful and stated the facts as you saw them. That's all that is required of you.

I would also be upfront to the nanny WHAT you intend to say about her before anyone calls you. Then you don't have to feel guilty about 'talking behind her back'. It might also cause her to stop using you as a reference altogether. Then you don't have to worry about it again. :-)

RBTC said...

with great respect to the pp -- legally - all you have to do is say - yes jane d,she worked for me xx-xx time

say to jane - with great respect my lawyer has told me this is what i must say - you worked for me xx-xx

bad idea to say anything personal bad

and --- any employer will get it fast - " she worked from here to here, no comment"

nothing else is necessary or helpful

let us know what happens

workingmom said...

Actually, RBTC has it absolutely correct.

Excellent post, RBTC!

Rhiannon said...

I think RBTC is right, You just have to state when she worked for you. I think they can also legally ask is she is eligible for rehire. Other than that, you don't have to say anything else.

katydid said...

Yep. saying anything else could actually get you in trouble!

Honestly her new employers will get it if she has a 3 year gap in unemployment and no references that she probably isn't the best nanny.

Somewhat off topic, just because a nanny is fired does not mean she was a bad nanny, many nannies get fired for being too good.

MissMannah said...

Katydid, thanks for pointing that out. I've been fired twice simply because the parents didn't want to pay me anymore.

RBTC is absolutely right that you don't have to say anything other than the dates she worked for you and if you would hire her again. Though keep in mind, she is unlikely to get a job this way so try to think of one or two good things about her. Maybe say something like "Nanny works better with parents who have more of a hands-off approach."

Manhattan Nanny said...

It seems clear that you are uncomfortable giving a reference that will prevent her from getting a job. (As anything less than a glowing reference will) Tell her this. It might be helpful for her in the long run to hear your reasons, but all you have to say is, I can't give you a good reference.
And who knows, she might be a good fit for a family that just wants the nanny to take over. Different families have different criteria for what makes a good nanny.

Nervous said...

I agree with pp, just tell your ex nanny that you don't feel like your reference would aid her in procuring a job. There are always personality conflicts and it sounds like this might have been the case. I never use my last family as a reference bc they were livid when I quit to return to school, and I feel it is a wildcard reference. I was an excellent nanny but the way things ended make uncomfortable using the family as a reference.

Susannah said...

I agree with Manhattan that it is best you tell her you cannot be her reference, and if you want to tell her why. It'll save you headaches

From what you described, doesn't sound like she is a bad nanny, but she needs a family where she can take charge.

Some parents actually like that in a nanny.

Do the right thing said...

Be honest.

OceanBlue said...

She could legally be in trouble if she is honest.

No kids where harmed. Everything else is just a personality conflict.

I think your best bet, OP, is to tell your former nanny you are not comfortable being a reference for her. If she asks why you can explain.

UmassSlytherin said...

The honest, right thing to do, and the kind thing to do, is to call your former nanny and tell her not to use you as a reference.

If your ex nanny is using you as a reference, she obviously does not know that you think she is "mediocre." Why is this? Did you in any way make it appear to her that you would give her a good reference?

If you feel this way, tell her. I feel badly for her not knowing how you feel and putting your name down as a reference when you really do not care for her or the job she did for you.

ding said...

That is ILLEGAL.

easy said...

Write a letter stating that she did work for you & when. Mail it to the nanny. Ask her to refrain from sharing your phone number. She will figure it out.

nannyfredi said...

I dont think it's right for you to refuse her a reference. You can comment on her good qualities and keep it at that. No one is asking you to lie for her but if you kept her around for a year she couldn't have been all that bad.

gypsy.friend said...

I don't doubt that. And being a nanny is such a personal & complex position. Being fired is of no representation of your abilites imo.

straightfwd.gypsy said...

Just under a yeah, huh? So, what qualities provoked your family to choose her to assist in the raising of your precious children for so long? :)

UmassSlytherin said...

Agreed. I always shake my head at mommies who say, "She wasn't a very good nanny." How long did she work for you? "A year."

It's so sad. Accepting mediocre care for your child. There's really no excuse for it.

Franzen said...

If someone asks you to be a reference, it doesn't mean you agree to give them a good review. By asking, they are releasing you to speak candidly to the caller. Otherwise, they should just ask you to confirm dates of employment. Ask her to send you an e-mail confirming her release of permission. A lot of employees are mediocre but hard to fire.

Lyn said...

Oh I don't know if I'd go that far UMass. Mediocre beats bad and a good Nanny can be hard to find. And sometimes mediocre interviews well when all your other contacts have seemed bleak. Maybe a parent doesn't realize the things a good Nanny is/does sometimes, especially if it's their first Nanny.

OP, if I were you I'd be honest. Not harsh or overly kind. Just honest. If I were a parent I'd want your honest feedback. You might be saving someone elses kids from the boredom of a mediocre Nanny. :)

straight.fwd.gypsy said...

I think this is total bullshit. If this nanny wasn't deserving of a positive review, why the hell would you keep her in your life & your childrens life for nearly a YEAR?? Is this another case of a parent expecting the nanny to be perfect, better than the parent? I've seen that many times.

Soup said...

I'm going to have to agree with Umass and possibly gypsy here.

As a parent you know what you want foy your child, and you know when your expectations are not being met.

Having a hard time finding a nanny that meets your expectations is no reason to hold onto one that doesn't.

This post smells of revenge and personal issues not a bad nanny.

Claire said...

I think the problem here isn't the nanny but your attitude.

The she is one of those nannies who thinks she knows more than the parents jumps out at me.

You are probably the type that thinks of nannies as uneducated and beneath you.

A nanny often knows what they are talking about and is right not to do what is asked of her.

I've had employers want me to wake newborns earlier in the day thinking that would help them sleep through the night. Did I do it? No. I knew better, and the pedi backed me up, actually scolded MB & DB for attempting this.

I've also had many disucssions with parents who wanted to save money buy weaning earlier and forcing solids.

I actually left a job in one case. I wasn't going to be a part of starving a kid to make things more convenient for mom and dad.

Over and over in my career I have seen parents making stupid mistakes with simple fixes for people that have patience, for people that are willing to admit that just because they have given birth does not mean they know everything.

Have a little humility we are with your children a large portion of time, we have good insight on the situation.

Tashina said...

I would refrain from getting personal. A reference call is professional, right? So remain professional. Answer yes and no questions. "Would you hire her again...?" And you would answer either a yes or no. Quite simple.