I define on-boarding as the “action or process of welcoming and integrating your new maid into your home and familiarizing her with her new job”.
In my experience in domestic staff management, I have discovered that for many maids, starting well has never been the guarantee of finishing well. But it absolutely provides a higher probability and a better springboard than when there is a crooked start.
This is why I always encourage and provide resources that ensures that a client’s maid has a good start on her job.
Imagine being faced with this scenario after resuming a new employment. The desk and chair you are supposed to use are still dusty because after the last occupant left, nobody cared to clean it every day. You found junk inside, empty wrappers of sweets and gums, condemned pens and a whole lot of other irritating stuff. You were then handed a dirty “Friday” uniform to dryclean for yourself because the last person left without notice and didn’t bother to do it. To crown it all up, there’s no form of introduction or orientation whatsoever, so after series of mistakes and getting the stares, you are left to figure out who the bosses and subordinates are on your own, the restrooms, where to eat, rules and regulations, and all other things that could have been told to you from the start.
When you finally summoned the courage to express your dissatisfaction, the only vibe you get is “But you’re here to work, not to be pampered”. I can bet that no matter what happens afterwards, this impression will stay on your mind for a very long time and will most likely affect your job delivery and commitment to the organization.
As maid employers, we often expect agencies to train incoming maids. We expect them to teach them respect, organization, hygiene and so on, which is a reasonable expectation.
However, even if these agencies teach them, all the maids can learn is general knowledge of housekeeping and childcare because they have never really lived in your home.
If for example your maid resumes your home and you teach her how you want your home organized but she insists on doing it the way she was taught in her agency or the way her former employer told her was the right way, it sure wouldn’t go down well with you.
This is why on-boarding is very important and should be a vital part of your planning when you start thinking of hiring.
Below I highlight five important on-boarding mindsets to have that will ensure your maid enjoys a smooth transition. If these steps are implemented, you can be assured of outstanding results.
- Approach hiring with a mindset that says “This new staff may be experienced, but she is ENTIRELY new to and inexperienced for my home”.
I know you probably want your new maid to jump right into work immediately she resumes, but no credible and well structured organization that I know of, allows that even for newly hired experienced hands.
Your new maid may be very familiar with the workings and theory of housekeeping and child minding, but not in your home. Anticipate that you would have to teach and introduce her afresh to certain things. Understand that because this is a new environment for her, she might be careful not to jump right into work because she’s not sure of how you would want it done.
The advantage of you having this mindset is that it keeps you prepared and open to help your new maid learn and grow. If your expectations are too high, it makes you rigid, touchy and less accommodating.
Your new maid’s feeling of newness will wear off in a short while once she sees you as understanding and welcoming. This is a great way to start your on boarding process. What are your thoughts on this?
- Timing is very important.
Nobody anticipates a valuable guest who they are aware is coming to visit them and goes out, calls them that they have gone out and ask them to wait outside till they return. Some of us ask maids to resume on days when nobody will be around and they have to wait outside till we return from work.
To treat our incoming maids/nannies well, we must first of all understand the value that they bring, and then receive them based on their perceived value.
How effective will it be if you asked your maid to resume on the first day in the evening or on a weekend when she can meet and be introduced to every member of the household at once? Instead of her coming at a time when she won’t meet anyone, and when people show up the next day, she’s not sure of who is who. How they should be addressed or be responded to.
Avoid creating an environment that is programmed to make your new maid sink.
- On-boarding is the time to TEACH not to test.
No one is more curious to learn, take in as much as possible or eager to impress as someone who has just entered a new environment and has something to prove. So as an employer, having a new maid just resuming is an opportunity for you to pour in as much knowledge as possible into her. This is the time to introduce as many resources as possible that can help you push further your lessons without you having to talk so much. E.g Work schedule, Audio and Video lessons, Our 4 weeks training etc.
The interview stage is the time to test, you test intellect, skill, character etc. Immediately your new maid resumes, get ready to start to teach. Don’t anticipate her to mess up in an area like you were waiting for it just to prove yourself right that all maids are the same.
If she doesn’t know something, after hiring is not the time to say “so you don’t know how to do this”. This is especially if she wasn’t tested in that area during the interview. Anything she doesn’t know, teach it early and watch her grow that knowledge into something good as time goes by.
Testing is unconsciously saying that a part of you anticipates failure, but teaching suggests you want her to learn and grow.
- Give time for proper settlement and adjustment to the new schedule.
I usually tell employers to give at least two weeks for their maids to settle in and three months to be FULLY accustomed to everything they’ve been taught. There will be a lot of unlearning, learning and relearning that would happen within this period.
This means that sometimes they will mess up, forget, be confused etc. But if you have put your mind in an on-boarding mode, you will give room for these things.
Before you know it, the three months will pass by so quickly and you would have a fully accustomed staff in your hands.
- Be fixated on your new staff’s understanding, teach-ability and gradual improvement rather than on outright perfection.
Like I mentioned earlier, on-boarding is about unlearning, learning and relearning. It’s about growth, understanding, how teachable she is, progress and NOT perfection. She can’t become perfect in one month but she MUST improve.
The goal is not to turn your maid into a robot. The goal is to expand her mind to take in information and increasingly do more than she has been taught with the information given. :
You don’t want a “do as I say” domestic help, you want a “do more than I have said and improve on it” help. The latter is better for you and your home. You want someone whose mind will be developed to think of quick solutions and can even do better in your absence without supervision. Not a programmed person.
Growth not perfection. That’s the goal.
Have you consciously or unconsciously put any of these practices in place? I’d like to know what results it has gotten you. Drop a comment below.