It dawned on me after completing last week’s article on what to do if a staff member has stolen from your household, that someone who does not know me would conclude that I am a cynic where Private Service Professionals (PSPs) are concerned. This thought has been gnawing at me over the last week since it in no way represents how I feel about the profession’s practitioners.
So, let me be clear about it…
I admire the gamut of private service professionals – from housekeepers and laundresses to house managers and personal assistants. They amaze me with their dedication, their breadth of knowledge and their loyalty.
So, to counter-balance the negative, I want to dedicate this piece to some of the things I admire most about people who work for private families. I am going to keep the list to 10 traits I admire most. Without that arbitrary limit the article might never end.
So here I go… these ten are for you, PSPs. You are admirable in my humble opinion because:
- PSPs are self sacrificing. One of the themes I encounter over and over when I speak with PSPs is the challenge most face balancing a healthy home and personal life with their work responsibilities. When the sump pump has failed at 9pm and the House Manager is on the very first date he or she has had in a year, often work will trump the date and an explanation will be made. The date either understands or does not, but it must be incredibly difficult for the employee.
- You are curious. Some of the most intellectually curious people I have had the pleasure of meeting in my own career have been people who work in Private Service. For me, unbridled curiosity is one of the most important hallmarks of intelligence. Each workday represents an opportunity to learn something new, whether it involve a new shipment of prized Burgundies or the installation of a Matisse canvas, all beautiful blues.
- You are the Renaissance men and women of today. Your skill sets are decidedly multi-disciplinary ranging from rebooting a Savant Smart Home System to maintenance of a green roof and so much more. I always learn something from someone who works in the field and so I look forward to interviews since they represent unique learning opportunities for me.
- You combat and usually overcome the loneliness that can come with the job. Depending on the size of the home, working as a PSP can be incredibly isolating. Yes you meet regularly with vendors and your principals if they are in town, but it is difficult to connect with peers. This is one of the reasons I always recommend that a PSP joins a professional organization like the Domestic Estate Managers Association (DEMA) and subscribe to industry publications like Estate and Manor Magazine (www.estateandmanor.com). Staying connected with peers is critical. They become part of your network, provide a venting outlet and are a resource for problem solving.
- You are not afraid of responsibility. I think few people fully comprehend the scale of responsibility a PSP assumes when they accept a position with a family. While some say the primary responsibility of a PSP is to make sure the beds are made, toilets are cleaned and dinner is served on a daily basis, I find that the characterization woefully underestimates precisely what a PSP does. As I see it, a PSP takes on responsibility for the safety and security of the family. This is their primary role. Let us not underestimate the significance of the role. It involves everything from to developing fire plans to making sure that the staff knows what to do if a criminal tries to force their way into the household. Call me crazy, but I place such things higher on a priority list than the basics like making the beds. If the beds are not getting made, the “expected stuff” is not getting done.
- You are compassionate. I have seen how PSPs respond to occasions when a family member falls ill or dies. They feel sorrow. It reaches in to their bones. I have seen it and each time I have been moved incredibly by what I saw. I am always reminding PSPs to never confuse their position with being a member of the family, but humans are humans. Like it or not, we build relationships with our employers that run much deeper than, let’s say, an accountant’s relationship with their manager. Please take no offence accountants of the world. I love you too!
- You are passionate. I always get such a wonderful kick out of the PSP who becomes so excited by every party their employer’s throw. Each detail of the event becomes the stuff they live and breathe over a few weeks… Right up until the next event.
- You have to be uber-polished. Working for high and ultra-high-net-worth families is no simple task. A PSP represents their employer always – on the telephone, at the front door greeting guests, writing emails to vendors, etc. It simply is not okay that a PSP dresses sloppily or writes carelessly. Everything they do is done knowing that they are reflecting the standards of their employer.
- You are “attention to detail” marvels. PSPs have what we call “an eye.” They catch the smallest detail or error before their employers do. they know exactly how a room should look after it has been fully detailed. They know when a painting is askew. They see the early bubbling of paint that indicates a water leak. They are the eyes and ears of their employers. That is a tremendous responsibility and involves constant attention to every detail.
- You would make great theatre Stage Managers. I always draw a parallel between what a PSP does and what a Stage Manager for a theatre does. Both people make sure that what happens on the stage or front of house, occurs with apparent perfection. In may be chaos backstage or in the kitchen, things might be on the verge of flying off course, but the production itself goes on seamlessly. Now that’s a skill!
Hopefully the above makes up for some of my negativity over the last few weeks. Am I forgiven? Bad things will always occur and not all PSPs are created equally, but most of them do a gosh darn good job.
Here is the kicker though… They do all this and, selfless professionals that they are, they often do it with little acknowledgement from their employers. I have always thought this is unfortunate but it is also the “nature of the beast.”
So, here is my appeal… Employers, if you are reading this, take the time out to thank your staff for a job well done. Your words will be golden. Trust me on this…
Article written by Scott Munden who is the founder of Portico Staffing. Private service professionals can learn more about Portico Staffing by visiting their website >>> https://www.porticostaff.com