Whether you’ve hired a nanny, dog walker, or housekeeper, you are now a manager. If you are currently navigating your way through the intense process of posting a job, interviewing prospective caregivers, calling references, and requesting background checks, you soon will become one.
As the Care.com Management Team and I know on a daily basis, being a manager is not nearly as easy as it may appear at first glance. We have to constantly work at ensuring that the perfect balance is met; that our employees have the right tools and motivation to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
As the manager of caregivers, your workspace is your home. Not only are you relying on your employees to give 100% at their job, but you are trusting them with your children, your pets or your home. It is important to acknowledge that this trust amplifies the significance of your relationship. Here are the top 10 tips in managing your care provider that we've gathered from our parenting experts to keep your family and your provider happy and running smoothly:
- Make a Contract. Signing a contract requires both you and your caregiver to agree to specified terms. Expectations are set and clear. You are also protected from a legal standpoint. For more information, check out this article on Nanny Contracts.
- Write Out a Schedule. In addition to the bigger picture expectations that you outline in the contract, write out a schedule for your caregiver to refer to throughout the day. It can be a loose outline or an itemized To-Do list – whatever works best for you and the caregiver. Feel free to use this example of a Housekeeping Checklist.
- Build Trust. When you welcome someone into your home, you are trusting them to treat you, your family, and your house with respect. Give your caregiver the same respect. Don’t forget to ask your caregiver about their life outside your walls! It will go a long way. Take a look at what our mom blogger, Ellen Seidman, has to say about having a great relationship with your nanny.
- Set Boundaries. At the same time that you show respect, it is also crucial that you set boundaries. Make sure your caregiver understands his or her job parameters. If you don’t want your housekeeper doing your laundry, make it clear.
- Check Your Gut Reactions. Conflicts will arise in any workplace. Before you react to a problem, try to take a moment and breathe. When you decide to address the issue with your caregiver, remember that his or her intentions were likely good, and your goal is simply to ensure that the problem does not continue to occur.
- Celebrate the Victories. When your caregiver helps your child to get an A on a big test or your dog walker teaches your pup a new trick, celebrate! Let the tutor or the pet sitter know that you really appreciate his or her work with a little gift or even just kind words – these small gestures can really mean a lot.
- Check In with Your Caregiver. On a regular basis, once a week or once a month – whatever works best with your schedules – take the time to meet with your caregiver. At Care.com, we call these one-on-ones. It gives you both a chance to talk about what’s working, what can be fixed, and how things are generally going.
- Stay Connected. Open the lines of communication by encouraging your caregiver to text you with little updates throughout the day. Our Editor-in-Chief, Wendy Sachs, loves the banter that “ranges from utilitarian to insightful.” If texting or e-mailing isn’t your style, have a community whiteboard or leave little notes.
- Give Vacation Days, Sick Time and Tips. If you have a steady dog walker or housekeeper, be sure to remember them around the winter holidays with a homemade goodies or a little extra bonus. For employees that work full-time, like a nanny, it is important to also provide paid sick time and vacation days. Check out these articles: Etiquette Experts Say People Should Tip Service Providers and Tipping Points – Give or Yule Be Sorry!
- Say Thank You. Don’t forget to say thank you. While you do have a business relationship, nannies and employees who work in your home have a special window into your life, which can bring you closer together than office interactions. Acknowledge this by being respectful and giving thanks.
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