How Principals Measure Returns on Household Staff

Studying The Life Of John D. Rockefeller

On July 9, 1890, with an initial pledge of $600,000 John D. Rockefeller, along with contributions from the American Baptist Education Society and land from Marshall Field, helped to found the University of Chicago. Based on inflation, $600,000 in 1890 is equivalent in purchasing power to $16.1M in 2018. To amass the kind of wealth to leave an endearing legacy it takes among other things great levels of discipline and self-control.

In my Estate Management career, I have been fortunate to serve dozens of UHNW Principals including a Fortune 100 CEO. I studied management at The Jack Welch Management Institute and had the fortunate opportunity to interview Mr. Welch in how he protected innovation at GE. In 2013 I was delegated a unique responsibility of repurposing an 1867 Italian Renaissance Mansion on 44,000 square feet of property. I built a team and was able to watch the asset removed off of the Family Office books as it sold for full asking price.

I had the fortunate opportunity of watching my Grandfather serve many UHNW Principals over the course of his 50 year career which began in 1943. Because of the lessons and wisdom shared, I intuitively understand how to provide the highest ROI when serving to protect a Principal’s resources. At 48 years old, I believe a greater opportunity I have now is in protecting their time while providing the highest levels in peace of mind. John D. Rockefeller was quoted as having said, “Do not many of us who fail to achieve big things … fail because we lack concentration — the art of concentrating the mind on the thing to be done at the proper time and to the exclusion of everything else?” Principals by the very nature of their life structure, demand that they receive the highest level of supporting attributes. The challenge that many find themselves in is with staff who don’t naturally understand these values and adhere to nurturing their environment in the same capacity.

Emotionally Intelligent service professionals offer a great ROI to their Principals. Unfortunately there will likely always be a marketplace offering employees who lack the skill or the will to do their jobs well. Whether it be a lack of discipline in showing up late to work, making frequent mistakes, or carrying negative behaviors, the low EQ staff person decreases their value to an UHNW Principal. I have encouraged many young staff members who I mentor to adhere to the following four service principles:

  1. Principals want a staff person to offer fluid technical expertise, and one who can provide facts and supporting evidence with no emotional handholding.
  2. Principals want a staff person that gets directly to the bottom line and recognizes that their time is valuable.
  3. Principals want a staff person who is highly process-oriented and detailed in their service taking a step-by-step approach in executing tasks.
  4. Principals want a staff person that is friendly, warm and offers a positive mindset allowing the Principal to engage the staff person with ease.

Paying attention to the details makes a world of difference of your value as a staff person in the mind of a Principal. I recently received the following text from a young security service professional in his late 20’s. It reminded me why I absolutely love sharing what I have learned in my Estate Management journey as well as while mentoring as a Humans Relations Manager.

I believe there is a new breed of service staff coming through the ranks that will carry a Special Operations mindset such as the young man I have been fortunate to share my wisdom with. Several years ago an estate owner shared with me a business alignment tool he was building to help the entrepreneurial world manage company staff much in the way that John D. Rockefeller did from the four pillars of (1) people, (2) execution, (3) strategy, and (4) budget. He also taught me the value of having a top-down management approach similar to what I learned in the Jack Welch Management Institute where merit ALWAYS matters.

I have found that when managing multiple residences and upwards of 20 staff, communication either lags, or becomes excessive and burdensome.  Values such as the benefit of having a morning huddle for 15 or 20 minutes, allowing teams to report in on their top priorities for the day, share if they are stuck, and express appreciation to a fellow member of their team who may have helped them recently.  Morale among staff has remained at a high level through this process as does collaboration and a willingness to pitch in cohesively achieving an optimized estate.  After reading this post, you can learn more about what I built for exclusive use on the our personal service website.

The business management platform that I customized for estate alignment provides the ability at a quick glance to understand every task a staff member is working on throughout the day and whether it is recurring or not. The beauty in this approach is that it provides a Principal with the capabilities of quickly assessing performance and how well they are receiving a return on their labor investment.

While in his management Institute, Mr. Welch taught me how to evaluate talent through a differentiation process. The technology management system that I use assigns an automated color code to tasks executed on time (GREEN), completed slightly over their delegated timeline (YELLOW), or behind and/or not executed (RED). The benefit of this color-coded system is that it increases performance and subconsciously reminds staff to be cognizant of their top priorities executed well which builds a culture of self-governed excellence. In the case of the deployment of the estate alignment platform, it truly is a merging of the last 20 years coming together in my life. Because of my commitment to always grow personally and professionally, I am attending the prestigious domestic training institute, Starkey International later this summer further adding to my management & leadership capabilities.

At the end of the day, the highest ROI a Principal can receive from household staff is their desire to simply serve and grow 1% better in their work daily. In 2014, I was fortunate to be mentored by a Board member of Les Clefs d’Or USA, the only national organization of hotel lobby concierges. Pronounced “lay clay door,” it is French word that literally translates as “keys of gold.”  The crossed gold keys on members’ lapels are the international symbol of the organization.  They confirm that you are being cared for by an experienced concierge dedicated to your service needs.  While caring for an estate last year, I noticed different members of the Principal family requiring a personal service need daily that I categorized as on-demand and capable of being solved within 10-15 minutes on average.

I reflected back on the concierge mentoring I had received and realized in an a-ha moment, that I could deploy a simple no cost solution providing each member of the Principal family a unique technology based button for their preferred device whether it be a phone, tablet, Mac or PC computer. The concept I derived and deployed was simple. While in the daily flow of optimizing the physical assets and staff on an estate, should a family member have a service need, they simply activate the button, it messages me, and I provide a guaranteed 30 minute response allowing me to make their need my top priority while at the same time completing any current tasks and processes.  If you have had the fortunate opportunity to receive outstanding service in life, you will likely never forget the experience whether it was last week or 10 years ago.

Although the Industrial Age has clearly passed, as service professionals to the UHNW world, we have an opportunity to care with the same levels of relentless persistence, checking our ego, paying attention to the details, and offering a world class experience that would have provided the care and nurturing to Mr. Rockefeller himself.  Who knows, you may be in the fortunate position similar to what Napoleon Hill found himself in which led to the development of, “Think And Grow Rich“.  In my personal and professional life, there are few things that bring me great fulfilment as in serving another with my best.

Written by concierge estate management professional, Lucien E. Boivin. You can connect with Lucien on LinkedIn

About Estate & Manor

Estate & Manor is an online magazine portal which is dedicated to global VIP staffing. Estate & Manor offers readers a glorious insight into the world of working with affluent individuals – All of our contributors are known for their expertise and knowledge in their given industry niche. These areas consist of: Estate Management, Lifestyle Management, Yacht and Jet Crew, Childcare and Education plus many more.

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