Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Real Bass

Are you fishing for the real bass?

As economic rivers continue to warm up, more and more residential estates are casting their lines and hiring more and more domestic staff... and most who are truly serious about functioning as high-performing, healthy organizations will find themselves fishing for the best candidates... or as some might say, the real bass! 

Yet, as we know, what they really mean is a desire find the best workers - not just those skilled at grabbing the bait, looking good mounted at the doorstep, and don't smell too bad!

So, then, where exactly are those best domestic workers that estates seem to want? And, more importantly, how can they be found in the choppy waters of domestic industry recruitment and selection? What criteria do we use to understand what the best workers are out there looking for ~ and knowing how to bait the hooks to bring them on board?

Enter Gallup, who's already conducted an exhaustive survey of:
  • over 1,000,000 workers...
  • over 80,000 managers...
  • over 20 years...
...looking for the secrets for catching the real deal. What Gallup found is that the best workers, across all industries, are looking for the same things! Lots of money?  Not really. Not the best ones, anyway. Interestingly and as it turns out, Gallup found that wages and salaries are nowhere to be found among the top 12 concerns of the best workers, those described as being the most highly productive on their teams. Sadly, it seems, an honest work ethic just can't be bought! 

The real bass are surely out there in the lake of possibilities... but the difference between the estates who catch them ~ and those who settle for the rest ~ are not always aligned with conventional domestic industry wisdom ~ and they just may surprise you. 

Here are the top 12 concerns the study revealed the best employees are looking for - with each one relevant to our domestic staffing industry and with my own relevant commentary added below each of them. I encourage you, still, to read the entire book and discover for yourself!

1) Do I know what is expected of me at work?  

Do you have detailed job descriptions developed for each staff position in your household - and has each team member become intimate with - and agreed to - each of their responsibilities? Clearly understanding duties are the lifeblood of best workers and they cannot perform to your high standards without this information. Yet, the other workers will often avoid job descriptions, because they set a precedent for accountability... which then becomes a slippery slope into hard work and high performance.

2) Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?  

What tools does each domestic worker on your estate require, to perform their jobs to a high level of competence, whether those tools be hardware, software, or a well-developed organizational mission and performance system?  

Best workers inherently need to perform well - and are often observed at loose ends if they cannot locate the right tools. A great interview question is to directly ask your candidate what they need from you ~ to meet the performance requirements of the position which you've just outlined for them. Other workers will simply concentrate on which tools meet their personal standards, not yours. Yet, as the ad for Premier assured us, "The best is always worth waiting for."  And, fishing for!

3) At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?  

Do you know the strengths of each staff member, and are you allowing them the opportunities to perform to these strengths, every day? Gallup found that high-performing staff need to be on stage, so to speak, and to be excellent in some way - every day.The other type of worker will never pressure you into letting them excel at something every day, it's just not a concern. Are you willing to set up a stage for the good ones? You're the director - it's your choice which type will pass the audition!

4) In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

"Their paycheck is their praise." Having once owned a domestic employment referral agency, I've heard this sad line from employers more times than I care to recall. Yes, indeed, there are some workers who consider their paycheck as the only recognition they'll ever need. Yes... you know the ones I'm talking about.

The best workers, however ~ the ones who arrive at work earlier than you asked, stay even after the event is over just to make sure all is still well, and consistently deliver 150% of service in-between those two times when all you've ever asked them for was 110% - are the ones who simply don't have the ability to recognize their wages as their praise. 

High performers have shown up consistently, time and time again, to require frequent and meaningful recognition. High maintenance employees?... yes, you bet they are! And, is anything else on the estate that's worth having around... not so? Would neglecting to wash and simonize the Maserati ever be tolerated?  

5) Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

"Friendly without being familiar." Oh, yes, it's that quip, the one that's made the rounds in domestic staff training seminars and easy to remember because it starts and ends the sentence with two words that sort of sound alike (a slant rhyme, for those who study linguistics) and so it must be true? Yet the problem with quips is they can turn quickly into lifestyles and when we promote not caring too much about anyone ~ in either direction.

I confess to using this very same line quite a bit myself, before I truly understood how ridiculous it is. The truth is that employers can demonstrate genuine, sincere care and concern with their staff, yet that doesn't mean they've become your new best friends ~  the line is not as thin as the quip implies.

The best domestic workers, the consistent, high performers described in #4 above, need to know that other people - downstairs, upstairs, anywhere at work, actually - understand that they're a living, breathing, human being. 

6) Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Was anyone surprised that the best workers were the ones who craved support? That doesn't mean, necessarily, supporting time off for a Master's degree, although it may mean finding a way to help your domestic staff worker get better at what they do now, either through your coaching, their own opportunities to take on new responsibilities and get better through experience, or more formal avenues. Best staff want to work smarter... and to work harder... not just to always find the easy way out! Which kind of worker do you want inside of your home?
Try encouraging your staffs' development in their next performance review and check their reaction ~ you'll know instantly if you have those workers which Gallup found to be the best, among over one million surveyed.

7) At work, do my opinions seem to count?

"It's imperative to be invisible." Another soundbite that's been slightly over-marketed in the domestic industry. Yes, of course, while you're pouring the Merlot before dinner, Mister probably doesn't want to hear you chime in your opinion about Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court. But, aside from those rare moments, being invisible to your employer, 100% of the time, is a behavior rarely displayed by the best.

Best workers know they have helpful ideas. Despite educational level or place in organizational hierarchy, the best workers will always figure out better ways of doing things around the house than were done yesterday ~ and they need that ability respected. Other workers? They won't care if their opinion is heard or not.... they'll find ways to occupy themselves and stay away, all the while staying completely, and safely, invisible. You get to choose the type you hire to justify your annual household staff budget with. 

8) Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?

Mission statements... eek gads! We've all probably seen one somewhere, most likely in the big lobby of a large insurance company or some such place, on a little wooden plaque next to the guest sign-in sheet... something about everybody being good at something, or, well, something like that! Yes, mission statements can be vague, as they are, rather purposefully, written at the 30,000 ft. level, and for a very good reason. And... your estate needs one. Why? Because the best workers want to succeed with something other than only the latest emergency, crisis, or catastrophe happening right now on the dining room rug with the poodle, and they don't want to look back in five years and remember nothing remarkable about the service they provided. They want to connect their jobs to something bigger, something which they can hitch their pride to and feel important with ~ and to perform to the same heights as they were inspired to. And, that's what a mission statement does. Not-so-best workers? Yes, they're much less maintenance; they can always occupy their thoughts and activities with something unrelated your mission. It's your statement to write... which type of workers do you want reading it? Better yet, ask your next candidate to propose a mission statement for your estate after giving them a tour. Will their mission be to find the break room?  Or to find the sunrise?    

9) Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

Reading a mission statement is a very lonely business... if your best workers have no one to read it with. Ditto for thinking about how to fulfill the employers' vision and improving
how things are done around the house. 

I'll never forget a candidate who listed with my agency after finally having had enough of dumbing-down her efforts, in order to get along with the other, less-inspired staff members.  "Don't work too hard - you're making the rest of us look bad,"  they'd tell her. Fortunately, this energetic gem was soon able to find a group of co-workers who both appreciated and inspired her to give more than what was expected, because they, too, were part of the best workers of the industry who didn't tolerate slackers and who wanted co-workers with a strong, honest work ethic. 

You get to choose the type of service pond you create; if everyone already on the boat is the type to inspire others to doing quality work, the real bass will jump in, too!

10) Do I have a best friend at work?

Familiarity rears it's head, once again. Notice the findings of over eighty thousand managers didn't discover that their best-of-the-best workers just wanted a friendly work atmosphere; what these high-performers needed was an atmosphere conducive to people becoming friends.  "Keep it professional...?"  Yep, and Gallup found that means keeping it human, more than one may think. And, that means having a friend at work. The best workers will want one... just FYI !

11) In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

Just like #6 above, only different. Development is a plan for the future, progress is that same plan now unfolding. Some domestic staff will never ask you about their progress,
because, like job descriptions, it just seems too much like work. Best staff do more than simply read the mission statement and come up with some ideas to save you time, money, and problems in your home. Best domestic staff also want to know they can keep getting better in some way ~ and that you've noticed if it's truly progressing in the way which really matters for both of you. This is a performance review, and Gallup found that the best workers will expect them.

12) This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

Development and progress can be mostly internal constructs. Learn and grow? Those notions imply external opportunity, or are at least greatly helped by the condition. Does your estate provide them, directly or indirectly? Residential estates, usually small operations and unlike mid-to-large companies, may contain limited opportunity for some of your best staff to continue the growth they need to succeed. 
Thank you... and good luck!
Here's one punch list item which, despite best efforts and practices, estate management may fall short of, through no fault of their own. Although there may be some growth in any domestic position, learning and growing significantly new skills may be very limited outside of what's commonly become the cross-training of current positions. 

This means the best-of-your-best workers may, eventually, need to extend their fins and swim on to new waters which they've grown into ~ ones which may not be on your estate. Celebrate their growth with support and well wishes. By doing so, you'll pave the way for another best worker to step into their shoes and provide the type of very best service you've already come to know, enjoy, and deserve.