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Events & Patterns: When should you be worried?

One of the hurdles you may have to face as a domestic staff employer is knowing when to correct or when to mete out consequences for actions carried out by your domestic staff. It can get tricky especially when you are not sure if the action was done out of ignorance or in rebellion.

The question often is “Do you dish out disciplinary actions every time something wrong is done?” “How can I identify toxic behaviour early before it deteriorates?” 

In this post, you would be getting answers to these questions and many more that might be in your heart.

By definition, an event is a one-time occurrence. It means that for the action, there is no precedence. You cannot point to a time that it happened before. Even though it is a one time occurrence, it could be a premeditated one or it could be spontaneous. For example, you discover that your domestic staff has stolen some money from your wallet which has never happened before. In fact, you have come to trust her around money because so far she has remained accountable. Because this is an event in isolation i.e no precedence to it, your first point of action shouldn’t be to mete out consequences. You should first think of asking her questions on what prompted the action.

  1. Was there a pressing need?
  2. Did she act under influence or pressure from a third party?
  3. Was it out of greed?
  4. Was it an act of revenge over something she may be bitter about towards her employer?

There are so many questions that could come out of this. When you get an answer and are able to identify the root cause/trigger, then you can address it from that point. If the action was borne out of a pressing need, ensure you emphasize that she has been given access to ask for whatever she needs. If it was borne out of greed, it is an opportunity to teach the importance of delayed gratification, wealth mindset, saving and investment, the reward and long-term benefits of hard work , consistency and prudent living and so on.

A domestic staff caught in this event will most likely feel remorse when corrected and immediately make amends. For you the employer, while consequences may eventually be implemented, the focus should be on teaching, correction and working out a definite plan that ensures the event is not repeated.

Now to patterns. They are a series of repeated events that usually occur as a result of familiar triggers. The first time your domestic staff is prompted to steal because of a pressing need, it is an event. If every time she has a need, her first instinct is to steal, then it has become a pattern; a pattern of stealing triggered by need.

A pattern is usually the result of unaddressed cumulative events. Maybe the first time you notice money is missing, you overlook it because the amount is insignificant to you, you have unconsciously endorsed that event and given it room to be repeated.

This is why even though events are one-time and you may be tempted to overlook them, you shouldn’t. Because by the time they have become patterns, they have become more difficult to handle. First because you may and most likely will not have an accurate record of all the wrong that has been done. Secondly, it is almost futile to address many accumulated actions after just one event. It takes away the gravity of the offense that was committed in the present.
Take a moment to imagine your domestic staff stealing $10,000 which prompts you to raise an alarm and seek to take action, then you start to mention that she had stolen $2, $10, $30 in the past that you had overlooked. The focus shifts from what she has done in the moment to your improper management of the situation and how you may have encouraged her by your inaction.

There are two things inaction and ignoring reoccurring events results in

  1. An unquenchable fire; permanent losses, irreparable damage. 
  2. A build up of anger which causes you to lash out or inflict harm and make decisions that are not well thought-out and may get you in trouble.

So what do you do when you notice patterns?

  1. Disciplinary action

    It has to match the gravity of offence. That is the only way it will be felt.
  2. Starve the triggers.

    Don’t keep lose change around, hide keys etc. This method however does not deal with the person. If she is desperate enough, she will find other ways to steal.
  3. Cut off and disengage.

    Take the person permanently out of your environment. This is important especially if you have tried to control events from growing into patterns, but the person has refused to learn.

Have you noticed events or patterns with your domestic staff? Care to share your experience and how you have been handling the situation? Drop a comment below.

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