Household Management Class 120 completed their entertaining curriculum of wine and formal entertaining last night. We often donate our dinners to a non-profit and are purchased by a patron, and this was no exception. The guests, a lovely group of 12, mostly Denver physicians were mesmerized by not only the finally choreographed ballet of service directed by our educator Debra Bullock, but the culinary artistry created by Chef Althoff was absolutely over the top this time. In my world travels, I have developed a pallet, and Chef's creamy artichoke soup was indeed a masterpiece. Thanks to all, students and staff both at the front of the house and the back. Dr. Lloyd Lewan and I agreed, it was a first class experience!
Today a prospective client called, seeking private service training for her current household staff. She exclaimed, “Whew! You were hard to find, Mrs. Starkey!” Given that Starkey International comes up first when you Google Household Management, I was stunned until I asked, “What were your search words?” She replied, “Domestic Staff Training.” Those who know me and my work understand that I have been a wordsmith for this unique profession of Private Service and have written extensively for the industry, developing the use of over 100 words and terms including coining the title “Household Manager.”
Over the years I have rallied against ever referring to our Graduates as “Domestics.” The term domestic often has a negative association including: uneducated, low skill, not always trustworthy, non-English speaking, and more; this is not a good beginning for a growing young profession. The word Domestic is defined in Webster’s 1999 edition as, “pertaining to the home, family, or household affairs” and “tame; domesticated”. Much of my work over the last 30 years has been to actually create a world-recognized, well-respected, educated, and appropriately paid profession. The term domestic continues to play a vital role in defining those that do the more unskilled, hand’s on cleaning and outside heavy grounds work in private service. However, to continue to utilize the word Domestic to define, categorize, or refer to those who have attained years of service management education, abilities, and expertise as a “domestic” is much like referring to an architect as a carpenter!
I am frustrated today with the level of knowledge a few of my current students have exhibited. Now in week four and having completed approximately 150 hours of Starkey education, they have not taken on the conscientiousness or service savvy one would hope for. While they are indeed serious students, how hard can it be to just bring in my daily lunch without someone holding their hand? Sound familiar? “How hard can it be to perform simple tasks?”
In the world of education we all want to be shown exactly how things are done in order to be successful. However, in private service, each Principal may give these students unique directions on how to accomplish a specific task. Now, this is week four, as I stated, and I have held the hand of the first three students who have carried out this somewhat simplified task. They each request that they be individually instructed, as opposed to learning from each other. On the other side of the coin, these are not beginners to service we are educating; these are bright Household Management students expecting to take over the overall management of sophisticated homes. Are we ever in trouble! In reading other industry newsletters over the years, one reads about how to polish silver, wash a fine piece of china, and of course iron a shirt. On the NBC Today Show, Ms. Martha Stewart said a white shirt could be ironed in 10 minutes but Matt Lauer was still stumbling after 20 minutes.
But we are speaking of just bringing in lunch here, not a highly technical, product proven skill! So I began to consider the number of factors associated with bringing in lunch. They have to include: intrusion into someone’s space, privacy of the activities being performed within the space, is the person hungry, what is the lunch, how do you interrupt to ask if I am interested in eating, knowing what the culinary offering of the Chef is, how the food was prepared, what is in the recipe, what beverage would go with the food, where to position the tray, how to put the tray in front of me without disturbing me as I am on the phone, taking just the plate off the tray, and placing it before me as to accommodate a small amount of available desk space, where to stand when doing so, and if one should speak to me or not -- to just name a few of the factors. This is a great exercise in service delivery.
In the end, Service Management is 60% psychologically understanding who you are serving and their specific expectations. The balance is technical and you really have to know your Principal.
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