For many maid employers, when the need for a housekeeper becomes apparent, their emotions begin to tell them how the maid will become a part of the family. How they will take care of her, make sure she’s well settled. They tell their children to be respectful, to make her feel welcome. She will eat the same food, might even wear the same kind of clothes with the children. Employers dream of saying to friends who ask, “She has become a part of the family”. When relaying the number of children they have to a second party, the number they relay includes the maid.
All of these things are not wrong in any sense, but, most of the time, when the maid resumes, it becomes very clear that these fantasies might take a looooong time to materialize. Employers are immediately faced with the reality that these maids are coming from a totally different background, and have to unlearn so many things to relearn new ones. Suddenly, actions they take around the house starts to annoy you. You are left wondering how anyone in their right minds would think of doing such a thing.
First of all, I applaud all the good spirited maid employers. All of you who are determined to give your maids the very best life possible, as your capacity would accommodate. However, it is necessary to have the right mindset when hiring a maid. This would prepare you for everything you might experience with your new hire and will also enable you handle it with grace and all the wisdom required.
So I ask WHO IS A MAID.
Before we define who a maid is, let us define what she is not.
- Your maid is NOT your CHILD: It is a common mistake often made out of good intention. I understand the need to make them feel welcome, the need to reduce the reasons she may give why she can’t cope, the pressure people outside may put on you, telling you that maybe if you made her feel more like a part of the family, she would do better. You are so quick to reason in your heart, but what if she’s my child? Well, why do you then get angry when you notice she has started playing “dress-up” with your clothes and shoes or has eaten half of your children’s favorite cereal for breakfast? But those are things your children can do, without getting the fumes from you. You can treat your maid well professionally without sending a message of “You are now my last born child”.
- Your maid is NOT your FRIEND: Some employers see their maids as someone they can buddy-up with. You gist them about your friends, ask for their advise, remind them that their favorite show on television has started and so on. This is all done so that they can feel at home. Then they wonder why the house work is never completed. Maybe it is because you recorded both of you’s favorite soap-opera for her to catch up on later because she was doing house work while it was airing the first time, and you told her she could work when she is less busy. Lol. All jokes, but you get the picture right?
- Your maid is NOT an extended FAMILY MEMBER: This is closely related to the first point, but goes further especially if you requested somebody from your hometown for the particular purpose of housekeeping. Yes, you will provide everything they need, but understand that this person came to work because you needed to get housekeeping done. Be careful not to create a breeding ground for familiarity because you are from the same village.
- Your maid is NOT a CHARITY ORGANIZATION: So did you need help with housekeeping? Yes. Did you decide to get help? Yes. Did your maid volunteer to help you out? NO. You are paying for her services. This is so key to understand, because many people have been so manipulated by their maids, they are now living in the fear of “What ifs”. Their maids have threatened to leave several times and these employers have resorted to using any means to keep them. Buying of gifts, increase in salary etc. The major fear faced is “What will i do if this person leaves suddenly”?
Trust me when i say your emotions are up to no good if you start out thinking this way. You would most times be left with regret, having invested so much in trying to please your maid and may even be providing a play ground for familiarity.
So in reality, who is your maid?
Your maid is your EMPLOYEE
You probably do not see yourself as an employer, because you have a 9 to 5 job and have been referred to as an employee all through your adult life. Let’s define the word employee. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, “one employed by another, usually for wages or salary and in a position below the executive level’. It doesn’t get simpler than this. The legal definition goes further to add that the person is “under the other’s control.”
Your maid’s first title before any other is employee. This means that before she can take up the title of a child or a friend, you, the employer and her, have to understand her position as an employee. This does not give excuse for an employer to maltreat their maid, neither does it suggest that he/she is not entitled to second chances if they miss it. No. This mindset provides a common ground for both employer and employee to interact with each other, based on a deep understanding of each person’s role in the relationship.
For example, a woman narrated to me how her maid stole from her. Before she reacted, she asked herself “What if she is my child?”. The question she should have asked is “How do i treat an employee that steals?” Why? Because you can beat your child, but you should not beat an employee. You can forgive your child, and while you can forgive an employee, records are also good. When an employee steals from an organization, they hand them over to the police (and) or terminate their contract. You can also decide to rehabilitate the person, especially when you see certain potential.
One advantage professionalism brings is that both parties are confident in the structure, and will be willing to do their best to make sure there is no error on their part.
For a maid whose heart is set to work, it would not take long before she starts to be seen as family. Just as our colleagues and bosses at work become like family with time, no boss will however have you as a best friend no matter how nice he wants to be, if you are not getting your work done.
Seeing your maid as an employee, will ensure you put certain things in place, like a contract, rules, and what he/she is meant to deliver on and so on; just like every organization will take their new hires through a process of training and on-boarding, which means to carry along. Without this on-boarding process, the new hire is at the risk of doing whatever s/he likes and will be well qualified to do so. All actions will be based on assumption. Learning from their own mistakes will be the norm and an organization might just never recover from any of those mistakes.
So when you are preparing to hire your maid, you should be ready to see them as an employee and provide a well thought out on-boarding process. Getting things right from the very beginning is the goal.
My next post will give a detailed explanation on what writing a simple contract and on-boarding should entail.
I would love to hear from you. Kindly drop a comment or contribution in the comment box below.