Common Mistakes Made in Recruiting Private Staff

At Irving Scott we work tirelessly to make each placement a success. One area we advise on is how to help avoid your staff making mistakes. Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes.

Common mistakes made in recruiting domestic service:

Unclear instructions

A new maid may have the right skills and be professionally trained, but if expected to hit the ground running, mistakes are unwittingly made. An experienced domestic employee should always request an on-boarding process so that integration is smooth. A wise employer will remember to welcome the new team member with the house the way it is expected to be: clean, tidy, organised and ready to handle!

Mixing roles 

Consummate professionals who perform their duties with utmost attention to detail, Irving Scott’s candidates are the best butlers, housekeepers, nannies, mannys, handymen, and chefs on the scene. However, as mentioned here, Irving Scott’s real skill is knowing how to identify that role which will transform a household from a pleasant abode to a radiantly happy home. When inexperienced householders inadvertently invite someone to work for them who does not have the right skillset, mistakes are made. It is unwise to expect a housekeeper to be proficient as a cook unless this was made clear at the outset. A butler may not double as house manager unless sought for precisely such a double role. 

A special word about nannies

Hiring a nanny on your own can be incredibly stressful, which is why we at Irving Scott are there to lend you a hand. We gather information and we screen candidates with insightful questions that help find the right carer and companion for your children, whether your domestic situation is traditional or unique. Avoiding clashes on childcare philosophy is a must. Trusting them to store expressed breast milk and bottle feed your new-born is essential. However equally important is fluid communication, clear expectations and a certain scale of tolerance during the trial period so that you can all adjust to one another in good faith. 

What can be forgiven

Among the lovely stories that surfaced after Sir David Tang died in 2017 was one that had originally been published in the Financial Times in 2013 in which he recounted the story of his colour-blind housekeeper who had tried to fiddle the accounts by adding an extra “0” to a purchase order in ink that was appreciably different in colour from the original. He forgave the employee and made it clear that although she may cook his meals, she may not cook her books. She stayed with him another 24 years, knowing that their relationship was based in trust and forgiveness. 

What can lead to dismissal

There is no checklist to say what mistakes are acceptable and which are unacceptable, although common sense dictates that theft and threats go beyond the realm of mistakes and are considered grounds for dismissal. Breaking an NDA is also a justifiable reason to remove someone from your household, although all Irving Scott candidates are fully briefed on the nature of the non-disclosure agreement they are signing with the principal and follow a code of conduct that precludes such breaches of trust. 

How to hire the right person

It is Irving Scott’s role to provide employers – our clients – skills and knowledge to become deft CEOs of their own household. Domestic staff management begins the day you invite a third person into your home as a maid, nanny, chef or butler. Hiring the right person is the first step towards having a stress-free, happy and successful household.