Sunday, December 30, 2007

Love and they will not leave you..

Do not pray that people change, rather pray that you may learn to accept and love people as they are.. Ive heard this many times and again quite recently in my retreat... i thought this is a helpful solution to frequent staff turnover problems in many households. LOVE is a result of knowing.. you can't love something you don't know about..

We can't put up with a lousy cook, or a laundry staff who ruins our new blouse.. But most of all none of us would want a help who is difficult to get along with, who does not seem to be happy to care for us.. Among the many households i worked in, primary reasons why helpers resign are unhealthy relationship with fellow helpers or with employer, attitude problems and unmet needs of both parties. And you will agree with me, many times the root of all these is poor communication.. salary is not always the matter..Very rarely would one find a helper who can easily communicate with her employer, i guess due to their limited education and cultural exposure.. and you will be amazed that many housewives do not know how to talk to her household staff.. i've heard one referring to helpers as aliens.. This is due to the big educational, cultural, economic gap between the housewife and the helpers.. Behind excuses of i need to go home to the province, my husband/ family needs me back home, i am sick.. are a lot of important and uncommunicated needs..
How do you get to know them better? Apart from the initial interview, I always advise housewives to find time to meet staff at least once a week, to talk about things other than whats cooking? When helpers notice your interest and concern for their person, then they let you know the uniform you gave them is too warm and uncomfortable at work that is why they don't wear them, you discover that the budget you give for shopping seem never enough because they buy everything (even staff meals) in the supermarket, that they would prefer to have their own set of menu rather than just eating from your leftovers.. and many more

My job as home manager inevitably turns me into a go between housewife and helper, and i must win the confidence of both. In the few years ive been working as one, i have rarely encountered ill intention in either camp.. its all a matter of exerting a bit of effort to know deeper.. background, needs, aches (hahaha even that matters, yes!) which colors every action, every decision one takes in every situation. And when we know why people act the way they do, then we understand them better.. then we learn to excuse and accept .. and then perhaps we learn to love these "aliens". When there is love, there is a lot of understanding and excusing and loyalties.. and less of unhealthy relationship and less turnovers.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

happiness in being very human

Aristotle contended that happiness could not be found only in pleasure or only in fame and honor. He finally finds happiness "by ascertaining the specific function of man". But what is this function that will bring happiness? a human's function is to do what makes it human, to be good at what sets it apart from everything else: the ability to reason..

I gave a class to one of my clients' household staff on maintaining order since i have been organizing their house. Being materially orderly is a big battle for a lot of us, not only for helpers. Material order actually comes from within, interior order. It starts with- you wouldnt believe it.- when our mind knows the reason for our being where we are now and what we are here for, when we understand what is truly important in our life, and going for it is what will make us feel fulfilled, happy.. Then everything else falls in place.. how does that happen???

You see when you know what you're here for, you become present at each moment, you live fully in the present. Order needs being fully present at each moment, then you necessarily do what needs to be done.. not later, not tomorrow, not when you feel like it, or when schedule is better.. or much less hoping somebody will do it for you.. No, you'll have to do it now bacause it needs to be done now.

One who is fully present knows that pair of scissors will not walk back to the drawer unless I put it back.. that others' work depend on my doing my part well and on time.. OMG!!. and so on and so forth.. I facilitate others life and work if I take responsibility of mine. I do things because I want to (not because somebody is watching me). I know what am doing, where am going at each moment.. i am making my life each day..i am happy..

Did the helpers become orderly?? a little!!! I've shown them how to keep order, ive told them how to maintain it.. its a good start. The ability to reason, to use ones mind needs formation and it takes time but not very long time. And that is why we need to patiently repeat instructions, explain the reason why, until they understand.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Selfless Service

In recent trip to Shanghai, i asked Aimee, shanghainese I met in the subway, if she could give me directions to get to Nanjing road.. and not finding the right words, she accompanied us to the place instead which meant going out of her way.. that was not an isolated incident. We met many Chinese people very eager to extend a hand.. in the hotel, shopping malls, streets.. sparing time even in very busy schedule.
There comes to mind St Josemaria's words: There are two ways of reaching the top: one — the Christian way — by the noble and gallant effort of serving others; the other — the pagan way — by the mean and ignoble effort of dragging down your neighbour. It is so welcoming and inspiring to experience selfless service.. its so nice to meet people like Aimee.. she could have gone straight home after a hard days work, yet she chose to accompany us who were complete strangers to her..
It is easy to serve loved ones, friends or colleagues especially when we have time to spare.. yet it's so easy as well to find an excuse when we're so busy "sorry but... got to finish this project, running late for a meeting, ... have more important things to do.. uh oh sorry i dont have money.. " we are selfish users many times, arent we?..
Yet it only takes a few minutes of our time to help someone, sometimes all it takes is a smile, some reassuring words to make others feel how important their ideas, their opinion, their work, their happiness to us..

we can always do something for others.. we have the power to change peoples lives, to help make it better, easier.. even just a little..

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Home management blues..

Running the home seems a mystery.  We look at it very differently from our professional life when in fact work involved in creating a home uses basically the same skills involved in running a company. It’s a matter of looking at the housework as real work.

“What will we have for dinner tonight?” If only we could make delectable dishes for our meals, like those in the photos we see in food magazines, then, we assume, everything else would be perfect. That is every husband’s dream and many housewive’s nightmare. Even preparing a simple meal brings a lot of stress to homemakers.

Lack of time and lack of competence contribute to that stress. I have a client who told me that she would like to spend the little time after work with her children. But when she gets home, her time is spent preparing dinner, solving squabbles among helpers, and many other things that steal the time she wanted to dedicate to her kids. Time is always a factor of stress when there are too many things to do and too little time to do them all.

In the office, the projects are usually linear, goal-oriented and time-bound. There’s an end in sight, and when that end is accomplished and the work is acknowledged, the employee gets a sense of accomplishment. But in contrast, work at home is not linear; it’s cyclical. Washing the dishes, preparing the meals, preparing the clothes and the laundry must be done every day, day after day after day. So being cyclical in nature, the work piles up if not attended to properly, and the level of stress increases, which affects professional work.

Lack of competence is another stressor. Many highly educated and successful men and women feel less competent in running their homes. Why? Because the generation of workers we have now are children of parents who have worked or owned their own business. The age-old tradition of mothers transferring home skills to their kids may have happened very little from mother to daughter and hardly happened from mother to son.

Part of this incompetence in caring for the home comes from the fact of viewing the home as something very distinct from other aspects of life, much less professional life. And we think that caring for the home is something that one is born with: the homemaker either has the skill or not at all. But it’s not like that. You can run your home professionally with the same skills and attitudes that make you effective at work.

Plan, delegate, feedback and evaluate for improvement. These very same skills will help you manage the limited time at home. Having 3-4 week cycle of menu will solve half of the time concern because cooking is facilitated, grocery list standardized, budget is foreseeable. Plan schedule of cleaning and delegate tasks to helpers and kids and husband too. Having a notebook to record everyone's concern regarding the home eases coordination and builds notes of experience which is useful for simple routinary activities. Get the right tools for cooking, cleaning, organizing, a small corkboard helps in communication and reminding people.

You know better, get excited! Message me when you have problems..