A new job is always a challenge no matter how many times the experience has been repeated and it is even more of a challenge when you are given a place in someone else’s home. The particularity of private service is that you will be given a place in the household by the principal yet have to contend with the wishes of more than one person which may pose problems. In short the skill that will need to be to the fore immediately is diplomacy and a little steel to demonstrate that you are there to perform a function and that you are not in fact a lackey.
The greatest challenge is adapting to the current household and how things are done and may have been done for many, many years. A certain amount of compromise is necessary and that from both sides as new and old ideas join in a waltz of acquiescence. It is necessary to tread gently and to follow the prescribed routine laid out for you which has the benefit of allowing you to become familiar with the household. Respecting such an arrangement is best as it avoids conflict and gains you the confidence of those present in the house before any changes are implemented.
A simple example of change is the use of gentler cleaning products i.e vinegar, sodium bicarbonate, savon noir etc. as opposed to the more usual methods. Many will find the very idea strange and indeed unhelpful yet these products may well be beneficial and more practical for general cleaning however their introduction must be demonstrated as better and not as some passing fad. Simply asking how things are done will quickly gain you friends as people need to have their work and their worth valued and it creates an air of understanding.
The keeping of good records will be a necessity especially when dealing with purchases and using the principal’s money. This is of even greater importance when dealing with older people whose memory may not be the best and as a way of justifying spending and showing the extended family that you are not profiteering. Naturally these records will form part of your Butler Book and everything should be noted.
There will be times when your mettle will be tested and this is never truer than when the work that you do is questioned i.e how you employ your time. A principal will never see all the work that you do but they will find the one streak on a window out of fifty that have been cleaned and complain that you spend a large amount of time vacuuming; dust is a butler’s nemesis and fighting it is indeed a never-ending battle!
A butler needs three months to get used to a property and a year to fully understand the workings of the house and indeed the household. This time allows everyone to incorporate the changes that happen. Butlers must accept change in a new environment and not be in a hurry to implement changes. Trying to force change is disastrous and must be introduced gradually and to everybody’s benefit.