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If you are employing household staff or a personal assistant, your employees most likely report to you; you are their manager. Your interactions and discussions with them will influence their performance, attitudes, and actions toward you and the job. While remaining friendly, it is important to distinguish between boss and employee.

The Friend

A common mistake is for someone who employs domestic staff to be “too close and personal” with them, making it difficult to draw the line between boss and “friend”. This often occurs in environments where banter is common or where the household culture is more relaxed. The boss as friend syndrome complicates matters when your personal feelings influence how you address workplace performance deficiencies.

Those who make this mistake might as well draw a red bulls-eye on their backs, as it is frequently the root cause of employee complaints. Often, household staff employers do not realize that this behavior is or could be an issue until a complaint is made.

What’s the Risk?

  • Employees “go along” with discussions even though they are uncomfortable because they don’t want to speak up to their boss for a variety of reasons
  • An employee will change his or her mind about speaking up and complain about behaviors when you take an action unfavorable to him or her (i.e., poor performance evaluation, change of schedule, etc.)
  • An accurate performance assessment of a “friend” can be uncomfortable and challenging. Performance issues will either not be addressed or softened to the point of having no weight
  • Perceptions of favoritism and exclusion amongst household employees can fester if you are selective about whom you treat in a more friendly or casual manner
  • You may lose credibility if there is a perception you knew about a subordinate’s misconduct but chose not to address or report the behavior because of the friendship

Best Practices to Manage Household Staff

  • Avoid discussions in which highly personal information is shared (financial, sexual, marital, medical, religious beliefs) and learn to redirect conversations of this nature
  • After-hours socializing with household staff must be professional – especially if alcohol is consumed. You might consider minimizing or avoiding these situations
  • Be inclusive with your domestic employees. If you routinely invite a select few to lunch or make an effort to converse with certain employees, you run the risk of creating perceptions of exclusion and favoritism
  • Avoid giving or loaning money to employees or buying gifts that appear unusual in a normal business setting
  • Avoid personal contact with your household staff on social media. Be mindful of the appearance of any after-hours communications unrelated to work (text, email, phone, etc.). Purpose, frequency and time of communication matter.

About Private Staff Group

At Private Staff Group our technologies, our recruitment team and our candidate networks are second to none when it comes to finding the personal, private, and domestic professionals you can count on. We guarantee to pair you with the right candidate that exceeds your household needs. To learn more about what we can do we invite you to contact us today.

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