"My helper is so incompetent! What should I do?"

"My helper is so incompetent! What should I do?"

What should we do when our house help can't meet our standards?

Having competent help around the house can make a world of a difference in one’s life. Freed from smaller household concerns such as laundry, house-cleaning, and so forth, we can focus on more important things, like our careers and families. However, when our house help falls short, they can make our lives even more difficult instead of lightening our load. If you suspect your helper is incompetent, read on.

Recently, a  mum reached out to us, very frustrated with her domestic helper. She certainly didn’t mince her words, but we can understand where she is coming from. 

If you feel your helper is incompetent too, here’s how you can help her. 

Teach your maid

There’s a big difference between just telling someone what to do and teaching them what to do. Never assume that they know what you want. Remember that your helper came from a very different background than yours, and would probably need plenty of training at first. This means modelling and demonstrating how you want tasks done, and closely supervising them before trusting them to do things alone.

If she keeps asking you the same question, don’t be irritated. Here’s a tip we got from another reader: “Repeat yourself like a robot when you give her instructions. If she needs to do the same task again the next day, be long-winded and repeat your same instruction again the next day. Make sure she writes down your instructions.”

Better that they ask you questions instead of relying on guesswork and messing things up, right?

Break down tasks

Sometimes you just need to give your helper some time to get used to certain tasks. Mummy Tresa L. also found her maid hard to deal with at first, and even thought that her maid was “playing dumb” on purpose. However, she found that after she asked her maid to break down her tasks and follow a pattern, she eventually got better at her job:

“For the first few months, I got to ask her to write down what I wanted her to do like ‘Monday: wipe all windows,’ etc. I had a list of things she had to do, and given the amount of time, I think is very manageable. The schedule repeats weekly and eventually, she got the hang of it.”

bad helper

Photo: Public Domain Images

Choose your battles

Remember that your maid, like most of us, can’t be good at everything she is tasked to do. “As long as she is doing OK in her main role, I’d close one eye in other areas,” says Samantha B. If you hired your maid primarily look after your child and she is excelling at that, you can afford to be a little more patient with her.

Stay respectful

Name-calling and outbursts of anger, though cathartic, will do you no good in the long run. You need to have open lines of communication with your maid so that you understand each other clearly. Destroying her self-esteem will also cause her to perform more poorly. Instead, encourage her when she does something right. Reprimand her firmly when she messes up, but always with respect.

Learn patience

As one mummy said, this is a learning opportunity for you as well: “Take this as an opportunity to train up your patience in readiness for your child.”

Do you have any tips to add to this list? 

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