Once the hiring phase is over, you will come to realize that putting on the ‘employer hat’ is an absolute must. The helper-employer relationship requires constant work as managing a helper not only involves managing the relationship but also your domestic helper’s work – and the live-in factor can sometimes complicate things. Different types of employers manage their helpers’ work in a different way. Each and every one of us has one’s very own style. While some of us are adepts of micro-management by either planning down to the last minute or down to daily tasks, others prefer to give them carte blanche.
Work management: what’s the best style?
Whether you should micro-manage your helper’s work or on the contrary opt in for ‘laissez-faire’ is up to you. There is no one-size-fits-all management style. There is only a style that fits you and your helper. Any style is fine as long as it works for both of you. Keep in mind that it is supposed to facilitate her work – and yours as an employer – and the relationship management so as long as it is doing just that, it is fine. At the end of the day, it’s really up to you to decide whether you should provide her with simple guidelines, – either oral or written – a simple timetable or a more elaborate timetable with detailed cleaning instructions and/or deadlines.
How to bring it up with your helper?
Ideally, this should be brought up during the interview so your helper-to-be can know what your expectations are and what her responsibilities will be in order to make an informed decision. During the interview, ask her how she prefers to do things then let her know how you prefer to get things done. Ask her if she’d be comfortable with that. Explain why you want certain things, – the non-negotiables – but not necessarily all, to be done in a specific way. Let her know that you believe that scheduling her tasks might just be the right way for her to remain focused on her chores and not miss out on anything.
Make it work
Be patient as it will take some time for your domestic helper to learn and adopt your way of doing things. Allow for flexibility – if she is quite experienced, she probably has her very own methods that might even yield better results. You might want to give them a try – in such case, it might be best to go for a simple schedule that will simply remind her of the tasks to be performed. What matters the most is that work gets done. If she is a novice, you’ll probably need to supervise her work more closely – at least in the first few weeks – and a clear and detailed schedule including cleaning instructions might just be the right way.
Make sure to include some blank spaces in her schedule as certain last minute unplanned tasks might arise and can cause a delay in your helper’s work. If she can’t perform a task on time, try to understand why – maybe you have underestimated the time needed to perform a particular task – and adjust your expectations based on work realities. Don’t expect the timetable to be set – it is most likely to be updated from time to time. Whether you decide to go for micromanagement or not, don’t forget to give your domestic helper regular feedback on the work she performs.
Designing your helper’s schedule
There are many templates available online that you might want to use as a baseline to create your very own domestic helper’s schedule. Make sure that you edit them so they fit your household needs as those may vary.