Service as a Profession: Standards for Household Managers

A Household Manager Understands Service as an Expertise

For many years I have been saying (and writing) that nannies are in a service industry. As children grow and family needs change some nannies are willing to adapt their job duties as childcare provider to become household managers.

In Mary Starkey’s Original Guide to Household Management: The Key to Meeting Service Expectations for Private Homes Mrs. Starkey describes the role of the household manager from the service perspective, helping the service provider to directly identify and meet a family’s service expectations.

The Starkey Service Management System teaches service as a profession that requires mature management abilities, a customized service delivery model, and an educated understanding of service relationships and household needs.

In Mary Starkey’s image (and mine) the role of the nanny or household manager is to make the lives of the family members and their guests easier.

Yet, daily I hear complaints and judgments from nannies and household managers criticizing their employers to me. To succeed as a household manager I strongly feel professional protocol requires an attitude of helpfulness and service, not criticism. To be a successful household manager the employee cannot possess an attitude that they know better than their employers, or begrudge a direction given to them from the family.

Nannies should not list themselves as “household managers” on their resume in hopes of making more money when in fact they refuse to sign for deliveries for their employers, complain about having to take out the trash or recycling at the house they work in, or refuse to clean up some dishes left by the family.

Before calling themselves a household manager, they ought to consider if they have a working knowledge of human resources, management and training of service contractors and personnel, and the hands-on technical experience necessary to personally perform or train others within the service environment including administrative, cleaning, maintenance, clothing, cooking, and entertaining.

Before boasting that they are household managers they should ask themselves if they are in fact acting as administrative assistants to their employers? Are these nannies actually helping maintain the cleaning standards and managing the cleaning staff? Are they managing a chef or developing menus, stocking refrigerators, and maintaining inventories of the pantries themselves? Are they pitching-in as a personal shopper, organizing closets, and keeping a clothing inventory? Are they willing to help manage seasonal lawn and garden care, including the trimming of trees and shrubs, caring of cutting garden and flower beds, apple grove, and backwashes of the pool, fish pond, and other water features? Is the employee willing to help the family plan their international and domestic travel? Are they willing to support the family’s values when it comes to child care, elder care, guest, and pet care?

Before putting “household manager” on their resumes most nannies need to consider if they are truly service professionals willing to manage and pitch-in by serving the family that hires them.

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