If there is truth to the saying “there is no such thing as a stupid question,” why do so many of us feel the opposite in our jobs and prefer the murk of unknowing to the risk of asking and fear of being exposed as a fraud? The question prompts two thoughts. The first is if you have represented yourself honestly through the hiring process, you should never fear being “exposed as a fraud.”
It is the second thought, however, that constitutes the crux of this article. It is a simple thought and it goes like this; As opposed to undermining intelligence, the process of asking questions is the essence of intelligence.
The Ancient Greeks knew that knowledge primarily comes from two sources. The first is Rationalism or knowledge that arises through reason and logic. It is often intuitive and based on a foundation of knowledge previously obtained through various sources. For House Managers, this is the knowledge that comes from working in their field or related fields as well as the information garnered by taking professional development courses. This kind of knowledge is usually what is determined during a job interview process and, so long as you are truthful and do not succumb to over-embellishment or out-and-out lying, you will have no problems here.
The second source of knowledge according to the Ancient Greeks comes from Empiricism, or the asking and answering of questions. From the Ancient Greeks to the present, asking thoughtful questions is a noble practice. It does not suggest someone is in over their head. It confirms the opposite. It separates the incurious from the curious and those who “wing it” from those who proceed with due diligence via appropriate questions. The act of “asking” separates the intelligent from, to be blunt, the less than intelligent. As an employer, who would you rather have on staff?
Take, for example, cleaning luxury goods. Guess work and mistakes can be costly. Ad-libbing and getting it wrong might leave the House Manager with an angry employer. In private service there is an expression to "do no harm." Sometimes fear of asking questions leads to harm.
Why not simply ask the question instead?
1. Who do I trust to give me accurate information?
2. Prepare yourself for the call. What types of items about which do I need to ask?
3. What tools and products do I need?
4. How do I safely use these items?
5. Are there different kinds of cleaning techniques for different kinds of jewelry? For example, a gemstone in a pronged setting versus solid gold jewelry?
6. How frequently should various jewelry items be safely cleaned?
7. How to properly return the item to a safe or some other storage location?
8. Is there anything else I need to know about this item?
9. Who do I call if I notice anything wrong?
NOTE: Be cautious when it comes to the Internet. It is rife with risky homemade solutions.
As House Manager, the next step is to train your staff. Cross training is always good, so include everyone in the process while identifying the staff member who is primarily responsible. Make sure that they understand every step to its cleaning and maintenance, every product required and the frequency of treatment.
Finally, there is the matter of curiosity itself. All good House Managers are curious people. They read books, magazines, and newspapers. They go to museums, art galleries, and restaurants. They stay on top of trends in food, design, professional development, and important subjects like changes to labour laws or new methods for motivating their staff. For the curious, the work of self improvement never ends. For the truly curious, it isn't even work.
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