Understanding your management style as an employer of a domestic helper

Every employer has a different set of expectations for their working relationship with a domestic helper. While some employers will want a purely professional relationship, others will prefer that the domestic helper is treated as ‘part of the family’. These expectations depend on an employer’s management style and relationship preferences and will guide the way that the employer manages the domestic helper in their day to day work. For that reason, it is key that employers understand both their management style and their preferred employment relationship type before hiring a domestic helper.

Management style 

Management styles refer to the preferred methods for managing and communicating with an employee. Management styles normally exist within a wide spectrum ranging from micro-manager on the very end, to passive manager on the other. These styles are based on individual preferences which is why there is no right or wrong choice. Instead, what is important is that the employer is aware of their personal preferences and is able to clearly communicate them to the domestic helper.

How can employers better understand their management and communication style? 

Below are some useful questions to guide employers in understanding their management and communication style when employing a domestic helper. 

  • How do you prefer to organise the work schedule? 
  • Do you prefer to discuss the working duties or would you rather just give instructions? 
  • How much flexibility and autonomy do you want the domestic helper to have when organising their own work?
  • Are you direct and task-oriented or do you prefer a collaborative decision-making process together with the helper? 
  • How frequently do you interact and communicate with the domestic helper?
  • How comfortable do you feel delegating more sensitive tasks such as handling money? 
  • Scenario question: The domestic helper is doing grocery shopping and the product that your family uses is out of stock. Do you prefer the helper to ask you for instructions first or make a decision on their own?

Employment relationship type

An employer’s preferred employment relationship with a domestic helper varies depending on personal preferences. On one end, employers may consider the domestic helper to be a part of the family, whereas on the other employers may consider the relationship to be strictly professional and task-oriented. Yet again, there is no right or wrong choice. In general, we recommend that employers start by working on creating a professional relationship to build trust and create a solid relationship basis. To do so, it is important that employers set clear expectations and boundaries on roles, behaviours, and responsibilities.

How can employers better understand their preferred employment relationship type?

Below are some useful questions to guide employers in understanding their preferred employment relationship type when employing a domestic helper. 

  • How important do you think the social or familial element is in the relationship? 
  • Do you prefer a closer relationship or one that is strictly professional?
  • Do you prefer to have clearly defined employer-employee roles? 
  • Are you able to provide constructive feedback to someone close to you and your family? 
  • Scenario question: How will you and other household members such as children address and greet the domestic helper? 
  • Scenario question: Will the domestic helper take part in family quality time and gatherings? Will the helper dine together with the family or separately? Will you include the domestic helper in family events and special occasions?

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