We have a saying in Asia: “Behind every great man, there is a great woman; behind every great woman, there is a great nanny.” Growing up in a society where a nanny is often a live-in arrangement, sometimes the nanny has a closer relationship with the child than his own parents. I took that notion when I left home and studied overseas when I was a teen. Outside the U.S., when I took international work assignments living in different parts of the World, even as I was single, I had a “nanny” arrangement to help me keep my life in order. Needless to say, with two young children and two professional careers, we have the best nanny arrangement we could hope for. I met Ms. Gu (through friends’ referral) before I met my husband, so there is another layer of trust that we can’t find through a nanny agency. Trust also builds over time and comes with mutual respect, considerations and growth (it could be money, or other benefits, or both of them.) At work, I have been a people manager for 15 years, the team size could be as small as one person plus me, or as big as 150+ full time employees across different continents…regardless, I continue to look for self improvement as a people manager, and I conclude there are two VERY important rules to retain your TOP employees, and I attempt to apply that to manage my nannies:
Give a deserved raise before your employee asks. Give extended benefits outside of the “core” and your employee would give you back in return.
Specifically to the second point…I give “red envelopes” to my nanny for all the major Chinese holidays (as she is accustomed to back home in Shanghai), on top of American major gifting holiday. In addition, I invited her family for private dinners & house parties (where they come as guests and not helpers), and I gifted her daughter when she makes major academics achievements or whenever she needs any 1:1 career or advanced study advice from my husband and me, we make ourselves available to her. In return, my nanny cares for my two children without any holding back, she is on top of my children’s nutrition and well-being without me asking. And speaking of above & beyond…she is documenting the best moments of their day time activities that my husband and I mostly missed, she takes amazing photos and shares with my husband, my parents and me daily through Facebook messenger. In fact, 80% of the photos I share on my blog and social media are photo credits to Ms Gu.
I never ask her to document my girls’ activities with photos, but now since she is doing such a wonderful job, I want it more, and all of us are anticipating her photos sharing at the end of each day. At meantime, I see she has potential to get better at her photography, and photography is a good skill to develop for her and all of us, especially in the age of “experience sharing is more important than experience itself…” so I hired Amie Kuo (a professional photographer just moved to Chicago from Taiwan, speaks Mandarin Chinese and experience in teaching photography at major institutions, which is exactly what I am looking for!) to design a few hands-on classes to fit our needs. Also this is one of the “personal growth” plans I am giving to my nanny, as I am building an incredible team at home front, too!
Cost: A few hundred $. Benefit: On-going priceless photos captured in good quality and the most lively way, as each snapshot is a unique moment in lifetime!