Last Saturday, I attended a session on building better relationships with our helpers. I think most of us really do want to have better relationships with our helpers, not only for our convenience or sanity, but also for the peace of the entire household.
I grew up with a nanny. From the time I was born, and up until now, that nanny is still serving our family in the province. One of my greatest wishes is to be able to find a nanny that’s as loyal, competent, and loving as her.
For those of you who have followed this blog since its birth, you would know that I actually found two very good helpers during the early years of our marriage. Those two were with us for a number of years already, and were one with us in looking forward to moving to a smaller, more manageable place to live in back then. Unfortunately, one of them became a single mom and had to leave to take care of her baby, and the other one got sick and passed away.
And so, the wish still remains as such. I do have helpers now that I am happy with, but I have yet to see how it goes with them.
I will be sharing with you some of the main points I learned. But before I do that, I would like to share with you some of the practices that I’ve been doing over the years– what have worked for me, at least (If I were to share all the mistakes I’ve done, this post would probably end up too long! hehe).
Be on the same page with them.
Notice I didn’t just say “get them on the same page with you”. I wish it were as easy as just laying down all the rules and handing them your policies and all, but it isn’t. I used to get so frustrated at why our helpers never seemed to be able to follow through with my instructions. But after asking about their backgrounds, I realized that most of the time, it wasn’t really about them wanting to disobey as it was about them just having a different orientation, and them growing up with a totally different value system.
One simple example I could think of is when they would always keep the left-overs out of the refrigerator for a long time, even if I’ve told them so many times about “how bacteria multiplies at blah blah temperature and therefore blah blah blah…” I was getting frustrated at why they never seemed to get it until I asked them about this. I then found out that it was really because one, most of them do NOT have refrigerators at home, and two, most of them have not had to deal with leftovers. A lot of times, they would have nothing left.
Being on the same page with them entails the following:
1. We learn their background.
– This includes family background, values, educational background, aspirations, etc.
2. We share our values.
– This, however, is not a one-time “I get it now” thing. We would have to share this over and over again.
– Before we tell them the tasks we want them to do, we make it a point to emphasize what we value in our family, and how those tasks lead to creating an environment at home for those values to be achieved.
3. We set expectations.
– We set expectations, both theirs and ours.
– Lay down the basic structure and routines we have at home.
– We set the rules we expect them to follow.
4. We set priorities.
– If we can get overwhelmed with all that we have to accomplish, imagine how it is for them…
– We set priorities not only in terms of tasks to be achieved, but here we also clarify whose priority each task/area is.
5. We give feedback.
– They have to know how they are progressing. Now in all honesty, this is where I am weak. I am very proactive when it comes to the first four things. In fact, I think sometimes when I repeat WHY I ask them to do something or explain WHY I want things done a certain way, they might think I sound like a broken record already (but I don’t mind). Okay, back to this weakness of mine. Since I admit I do not like confrontation, we have opted to have regular “staff meetings” at home, wherein we discuss the things that they are doing well, AND the things that need improvement. So far, this has given me an avenue to confront them without them having to feel defensive (well, at least I wish they really do feel that they don’t have to get defensive).
Now on to Coach Pia’s session. Here’s my MAIN take home:
GIVE EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK.
Giving feedback is not enough. Giving effective feedback is what counts.
And here are the main action points for me. Here are some keys to giving effective feedback:
1. Communicate clearly.
– For me, this applies to my tone and facial expression. If something is really important to me, I cannot make it sound like a request. Our helpers need to be able to tell the difference between what is just something that is nice to have at home (want), versus what we really think is essential for our home (need).
– HOW we say things can make all the difference.
2. Clarify expectations.
– It is best to do this one-on-one, in private.
– Again, communicating clearly comes in here.
3. Work towards competence.
– Since it is almost always a given that they come from different background with different habits and different values, we cannot expect them to get it right away.
– Always DIRECT first…then SUPPORT…then DELEGATE.
There you have it!
What about you, what are your best practices with your helpers?
Before I end this post, let me share with you some bits of information about our sponsors who made this learning session possible, as our way of saying thank you.
Marca Pina! Honestly, I tried buying other local brands of “Queso de Bola” before, but I ended up disappointed. Since then, I always got Marca Pina each time. Did you know that these are imported from Holland? And you can always be assured that you are buying a fresh batch since they are sold out every year!
Tonkita cleaning products by Arix Philippines…
Tonkita is a complete range of tools and accessories for cleaning and taking care of all domestic spaces, designed for ease of use. Their materials are 100% recyclable. I was actually surprised that the prices are really reasonable, considering the quality and durability. To know more about their products, check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ArixPhilippines.
You have to try their Black Pancit and Crack Pie! The Black Pancit is actually sotanghon soaked in squid ink, then mixed with crushed chicharon…the kamias you see there isn’t just for garnish, it really goes well with the pancit and…..just try it. Check out their Facebook page (and order from them!) .
….I realized I was so engrossed in the discussion I wasn’t able to take a single photo of Coach Pia or of the group once we started!