Hiring a New Domestic Staff Member: Navigating Pitfalls
Hiring a new domestic staff member is never an easy thing. There’s the adjustment of the new. There’s that odd feeling of inviting a new face into your home who you will likely see on an almost daily basis. There are the pitfalls of misunderstanding if the hiring process hasn’t been transparent or correctly managed. And then there is that feeling that s/he isn’t “getting it” because they aren’t doing things the way they have always been done in your home. It feels like the new staff member is making mistakes - sometimes one mistake after another. More often than not, these feelings result in throwing of arms into the air and concluding “it’s not working.”
If any of the above feels familiar, know that you are not alone. Here is something that might be worth considering though. It could very well be the new employee is making mistake after mistake. It might be that they continue to make these mistakes even after being told how you prefer to have things done in your home. There is another possibility though and that is what this article is about.
Every family is different, which means that every home is different.
Sometimes the differences are minor and sometimes they are significant. New staff members should be evaluated in this context. This means that whenever a new staff member is hired, the new employer should keep in mind the employee worked for someone previously who had different standards and protocols. What is wrong in one employer’s household might have been right for a previous employer.
The employee is, in most cases, following a template of experiences learned throughout their career. It is not necessarily inexperience, carelessness or bad intent being made manifest. Instead it might be an employee’s own experience being followed in a new work situation. The employee is doing what they know. It just is not the right experience and knowledge base for your home but that can be fixed.
An example that comes to mind is the employee who worked in a home environment where every new chemical cleaning product was embraced and tested. The new home might be one that avoids chemicals, embraces a “less is more” philosophy and prefers homemade solutions to commercial cleaning products. It is not that one approach is wrong and the other is right (I do have my own preferences).
The emphasis moves from a “right vs. wrong” paradigm to one that asserts there are “different ways to bake a cake.”
My advice is that when these frustrations occur - and in most cases of a newly hired employee they will occur - that the employer pause, consider the possibility that they have not hired an inept employee and recalibrate and spend time training the new employee in how things are done in the new employer’s home. All of a sudden evaluation of a new employee shifts from how they are currently doing things to “are they responding to training and adjusting to their new work environment?” This is a significant shift.
Instead of prematurely throwing in the towel, the new employee can be evaluated according to questions like:
Can they learn new skills?
Can they adjust to their new work environment?
Do they listen?
Do they ask intelligent questions?
Do you, the employer, see improvements NOTE: Give it some time. Old behaviours take time to unlearn.
It is never a simple matter when adjusting to something or someone new is required. It takes time and patience and, in the case of employees, a training plan. Likability is in many ways the first test. Do you like the new employee? If the answer is yes, give the above a go. As an employer, you will likely discover that the effort was worth the time.
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