“Familiarity oftentimes breeds contempt.” This sentiment is not limited to just literature or fiction. When managing a home with a full-time staff, this is definitely a common occurrence.
What to do when this actually happens? There are a few ways to solve this dilemma—all of which depend on when you have the chance to speak to your staff. Here are some tips on establishing boundaries with your yaya.
1) “Immediately”: To nip the problem in the bud, addressing the problem immediately would be the best recourse. Tell-tale signs sometimes take the form of failing to address you with the usual courtesy of po or ho, unsolicited advice on topics beyond her scope of work, and sometimes “selective amnesia” when it comes to following your instructions.
Once you even feel that your staffer is being disrespectful or stubborn in any way, shape or form—take her aside, speak to her alone and make sure that she is not shamed in front of others. Shame is never a good motivator. Make sure you lead by example by speaking to her in a firm but well-modulated voice. Screaming or shouting at her will only result in scaring her, not teaching her. Treat her with respect as you demand respect. Explain that although you do not expect anyone to be perfect, a minimum requirement of respect and obedience are vital to having a place in your home. However, as balance is always of great importance—make sure you compensate any sermons with a “pep talk”—explaining how much faith you have in her and how much you believe she can improve. Faith in someone is a powerful thing.
2)”Periodically”: If you are not able to address an instance of over-familiarity right away, make sure that you do it periodically. A quarterly evaluation or even bi-annual evaluation of your staff is always a good idea. It will provide a venue to voice out your concerns both positive and negative without needing a catastrophe to happen before speaking to your staff about special issues. Conversely, your staffer will also have an opportunity to respectfully present her issues.
More often than not, these staff evaluations are tied to the rate of salary increase. Therefore, expectations are important. If you have no intentions of promoting a staffer, she needs to understand the reasons as well as where she can improve. Evaluations are usually divided into:
a) Quality of Skills/Performance
b) Employer-employee relationships
c) Co-worker relationship skills
d) General Attitude
For a more detailed evaluation guide, please see our attached template taken from our Smart Parenting Yaya Manual.
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3) “Crossroads”: Addressing a problem of impropriety can also come as a consequence of a series of small occasions that build up into a disastrous one. These events are what I call “crossroads”. It is at this point where you decide whether or not to keep a staffer. Should this event arise, make sure you condemn the action and not the person. Explain to your staffer that the course of events was not acceptable and that it must be corrected immediately. Tell her that although we are part of the same family, as her “pseudo-mother or older sister”, it is your duty to change her perspective for her own good. Try as much as possible to separate the two.
The action she committed can never be acceptable, but she, as a person, can be forgiven—provided of course that she takes conscious steps to improve her attitude. Should the talk result in a positive outcome, make sure that you set aside a consistent venue for which to gauge her progress. In as much as she needs to be sincere about changing, so must you be about helping her.
However, should your staffer decline any advice or help from you—perhaps your “crossroads” will lead to a parting of ways. Although unfortunate, this can actually be for the better.
If your yaya is becoming overly familiar or outright disobeying you, then it’s time to establish boundaries. It is important to create an environment within a home where your staffers can succeed. However, all privileges come with responsibilities. Balance again is key. Your staffer must understand this privilege and act accordingly.
Photography by Ocs Alvarez