Some of us, if not all, have been in situations where we gave out specific instructions to our maids before leaving the house, but then we come back later in the day to find out that either nothing at all was done or it was obviously done half-heartedly. I think what is most shocking to many of us is that as at the time we were giving the instruction, the maid was paying attention, nodding her head as a sign of comprehension and maybe even writing things down.
For many of us, when we find ourselves in situations like this, we conclude that the maid is lazy, disobedient or just incompetent. We may even be tempted to lash out in anger, by shouting or even beating(which is very wrong). But like I have always said, shouting and beating is not a fix-it-all approach. Some things can only be learned by careful and deliberate training.
I have realized that one of the major causes of forgetfulness with maids is DISTRACTIONS. You can have the most hard-working person in your hands, if she is distracted, she will be forgetful and incompetent. Can you relate to this; sometimes you decide to come on Instagram for 15 minutes and end up spending 90 minutes. In that extra time you have spent, you have probably missed out or forgotten something you should have been doing. Sometimes, you picked up your phone to check your mail and get distracted by an IG notification, and then go on to spend the next 30 minutes there, forgetting what you were supposed to check.
It is the same thing that goes on with our maids. Some of them are distracted by their phones (telephone calls and social media), the television, neighbors and friends e.t.c and so they devote their time to it, oblivious of the fact that the day is already gone. By the time they realize, the time left becomes too late to accomplish the given task. Sometimes, the distraction can be a thought. A thought that makes their minds wander, and then they completely forget the reason they were sent on an errand.
A distraction simply means “a thing that prevents someone from concentrating on something else”. Distractions are not bad in themselves, they are just not suitable for the moment in which attention is being paid to them. They are often things that can be done at a later time. So if you are faced with a maid who is forgetful or showing signs of being distracted, here are three steps you can take for a turn-around:
- IDENTIFY THE DISTRACTION:
You can do this by asking her what she did during the day. If you have a security camera at home, you can glance through it to check what she spent long hours doing. Conduct spot checks on her phone to check call logs and frequency of social media activity, ask trusted neighbors or your kids to watch her. Ask or identify if there is a particular chore that she spends a lot of time on. Since distractions could also be thoughts, you have to ask a lot of questions. Be approachable. It could be financial pressure, pressure from home, relationship issues or just personal matters. Pose questions that can lead you to what exactly the distraction is.
- ADDRESS THE DISTRACTION:
Once you have identified the distraction, then you figure out a way to address it. This may involve you discussing with her why you need to take away her phone or put a password on the cable TV. If it is a relationship, it is time to put rules in place and define clear boundaries. Emphasize the need for effectiveness and full concentration during work hours. If possible, give clear illustrations of how distractions wastes time and reduces productivity. If it is financial pressure or a thought, make her see reasons why she needs to work hard and be focused on her work, make her see what her finances will amount to in an ideal situation when she saves.
- OFFER THE DISTRACTION AS A REWARD:
This is the last stage where you take away the distraction and offer it as a reward. For example, you can collect her phone and say that if she does a satisfactory job, she can have it for the rest of the day. The same applies to watching TV. You can offer to loan her some money to settle commitments if the distraction is financial.
Doing this gives her something to look forward to. Her goal then becomes to exceed your expectations, so that she can be rewarded. That’s a win-win situation.
One mistake we often make is to settle for total deprivation; which is punishing her by taking the distraction away totally. By doing that, you have abruptly created a vacuum and she will seek to fill it with something else. Which brings you back to where you started from.
You have also probably tried writing down instructions or sending text messages, but the truth is, someone who is distracted will not pay attention to those things. Before she remembers to check the piece of paper or her phone, she would have spent the better part of her day giving attention to other things. Writing things down can work for an errand, but may not be effective for daily or specific household chores.
I hope you put this to test with your “forgetful” maid, and give me a feedback on the results you get. I look forward to hear of your awesome maid transformations.