“The first cleaning went great, my cleaner managed to do the laundry, iron, dust, hover, mop, tidy up, and do the washing up in just 2 hours! Two weeks later she is missing things to do, she is just a lazy girl that speaks no English and doesn’t understand me!”. How many times we have heard of situations like this one! It is very easy for someone to go from a positive feedback to a negative feedback, sometimes without thinking why the cleaners have changed their behaviour (if they have at all!).
Having a cleaner is a choice. Most people would be able to do the house cores if they needed to. The problem comes when, after making the choice, customers seem not to like the arrangement very much. Why that happens?
On one hand we have customers keeping their cleaners for years, constantly praising their job. On the other hand we have people who seem to be upset with their domestic cleaners; they criticize their job and would get rid of them as quickly as possible.
These latter employers find it difficult to communicate with their domestic cleaners and therefore they are not able to maintain a positive and professional relationship with them.
We cannot say that communication is easy, especially when we talk about a stranger going into your house to clean your pants on a weekly basis. We know that it could be an uncomfortable situation. At the end of the day, your domestic cleaner knows exactly where your personal valuables are kept, who leaves the dirty socks on the living room floor or whether anyone in the house ever cleans the toilet. So we can say that the domestic cleaner can reach a level of intimacy with your house that not even your best friend (or mother) can achieve. But, knowing every single detail about your house does not mean that the intimacy is at the same level with the members of the family. It is not at all. Your cleaner will know for how long you keep the milk on the fridge but will know almost nothing about you.
If you want to have a productive relationship with your domestic cleaner it is important to acknowledge the importance of open communication. Of course, you will not need to sit down with her over a cup of tea to talk about family and life in general; you will just need to be open and understandable. Let us see some tips:
1. Explain your domestic cleaner what is expected from her; what you consider more important; what you are looking for in her. It is the only way for your domestic cleaner to know if she is doing the right thing. This will boost her confidence and most probably her cleaning standards as a consequence.
2. Write everything down. If you want your cleaner to concentrate one day on the windows instead of the mopping, write it on a piece of paper with clear hand writing. Even if she does not understand a word she will check it on her dictionary or call the domestic cleaning agency to ask for help.
3. Do not shout. You do not need to raise your voice to make yourself understood. Speaking basic English does not mean that your domestic cleaner is deaf.
4. Use simple sentences. Most of the domestic cleaners are not native English speakers; but although they have good level of English they may not understand specific comments or made up phrases, or even a joke (remember that language is more about culture than grammar).
5. Praise her job. If she has done a great job or an extra task that was not expected, let her know.
6. Raise your concerns. If there is anything that she needs to improve or you are not happy with, speak with her. If your domestic cleaner does not receive any complain she will assume that her cleaning is up to standards.
7. Listen to your domestic cleaner. It is true that some people may have been on a situation where their cleaner has tried to get advantage of the situation and she has asked for extra time or more money. But most of the domestic cleaners are honest people who try to earn their living. If your cleaner thinks that the deep clean of the oven will take longer than usual, the chances are that this may be true.
8. Be polite at all times. She may be doing a job that you do not want to do but any domestic cleaner will be glad to hear a “thank you” or “please” from her customers. The same as you usually do with your friend or boss.
At http://www.amycleaning.co.uk we receive a lot of feedback from our customers. The tendency is that, although it is important for the domestic cleaner to be a good cleaner, customers tend to consider on a higher level qualities such as trustworthiness, reliability and politeness. This could explain why some customers decide to change their cleaner just because they do not feel comfortable with her as a person.
If we manage to listen and understand our domestic cleaner as well as appreciate the job that they do on our houses we will have given the first step towards a more effective relationship with her.