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Baseline Character Traits To Look Out For When Hiring

January is usually the busiest time for domestic staffing agencies in Nigeria (and probably Africa), because, many maids who take permission to travel for the festive period suddenly ghost on their employers.
The Nigerian homeowner’s challenge has never been about hiring of domestic staff, but in the management of the staff that they hire.

Inasmuch as we can agree that you can always get someone as a replacement when one staff disappoints, my interaction with homeowners has shown me that they want long-term and satisfying relationships for all parties involved.

Employing a domestic staff should not be rocket science, yet you wonder why you still struggle at it. Just as you are considering hiring again this month, let me share four baseline character traits you should look out for when trying to hire a domestic staff.

Pillar 1: Capability
The extent of work that you want done in your home; from housekeeping and home-running, to childcare, should determine who your final choice is to take up the job.
Do you think an 18 year old can be the perfect nanny for your very active kids? Or maybe considering someone older and with more experience would be better.
Do you think that someone who comes in for the interview looking untidy, with an odor would be the best person to make good hygiene decisions in your home on a daily basis? Will she be able to trace bad smells or bath the kids properly?
These and more are some of the capability questions you must ask yourself.
Even if a maid comes in recommended by another, you have to ensure she is capable to undertake the work at hand before signing that contract.

Incapability is the major cause of underperformance of maids which eventually leads to frustration of both parties.

Pillar 2: Education
You will be surprised at the number of people who want to work as maids or nannies and are only versatile with the housekeeping aspect of it. They have no idea about organization and planning, teachability, confidentiality, integrity, hygiene and so on. Unfortunately, many employers are also not aware of the importance of education until they start to experience the aftermath of the lack of it. We have to understand that there is more to being a domestic staff than house cleaning. You do not want a maid who is always behind schedule or constantly tells all of your business to strangers. Does she know she would not be allowed to post your pictures on social media?

Education in these crucial aspects sometimes comes from the agency you are hiring from, or the employer can take it upon herself to ensure it is done either by sourcing for training or doing it herself.

You’ll agree with me that from the viral maid stories we hear, the price of ignorance is too expensive to pay.

Pillar 3: Agreement
“Can two walk together except they agree?” The answer is absolutely NO. Whether in “Walking” or “Working”, it won’t happen.
Is your incoming staff in total agreement with you on important things? For example leave days, entitlements and rewards, notice periods and consequences for actions? She should be able to articulate clearly when asked what was agreed on.

Every agreement in this case has to be documented and signed by all parties involved, in order for it to be established.

Any agreement that isn’t documented unfortunately cannot be enforced. The agreement also has to be beneficial to both staff an employer so that everyone wins and there’s no resentment.

Many times, the contract provided by the agency isn’t enough as it only covers hiring terms and conditions and requires only the signature of the employer. Employers should have a personalized home contract that expresses and states in clear terms, conditions in which the working relationship can proceed and thrive.
If your only assurance of your maid being around in December has been by word of mouth, you could be disappointed.

Pillar 4: Service
What does “Service” mean to your incoming hire? Is she aware that domestic staffing is a service job? It requires giving and sacrificing part of one’s freedom especially when it is a live-in arrangement. Her freedom to do as she pleases will be sacrificed for doing what is in line with her employer’s needs per time. The bitter truth is that being a domestic staff in a home might be for a select few who really understand this. But due to high demands, employers have to settle for whoever they find and hope they catch the “service mentality” after. Service means she is flexible and willing to change as the job demands. Is she ready?

As you go about searching in 2019, I hope you find a domestic staff that is capable, educated, in agreement with you and is ready to serve. 

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