16 April 2011

The woe of an employer

Its hard to lose a trusted and long-standing employee. I recently lost a maid who served with me for seven years. She had become almost a part of my family by then. Everyone assumed that she was a permanent fixture in my home. She was what her family says a 'kalaakar'(artiste) among maids! It is similar to what we know as the 'high performing' employee in the corporate world. The ones who come with the label 'handle with care'. All managers who have such employees will empathize with the experience I went through with her.

She started off with the humble duties of sweeping and wiping the floor. But over the years, her diligence and integrity won our hearts over. She soon took over the kitchen reins and other aspects of housekeeping to a certain extent. So much so that she became indispensable for me. But as she grew into this key role, so did her ego. Somewhere along the line, I had started bowing to her demands. At first, I did not even realize it until my husband pointed it out. I used to silence him saying what did he know about handling maids?

I had a baby last year. I was so occupied with the baby that the maid's presence became even more essential in my life. She started dictating her timings, her pay, her duties...everything. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Well, I saw it happening with my own eyes. Her vacation days, her demands for loans, bonus, gifts... everything increased. Which was still acceptable had the quality of her work kept up. However that had somehow dwindled over the years. I kept putting it down to her age though she is almost my age.

There were many times when we almost ended the relationship. But such discussions were usually very emotionally wrought with a lot of crying on her part. Every time I relented thinking she needs this job and I cannot do her out of it. This was against my husband's dire warning that she was simply taking advantage of me. Finally one day my patience snapped. When she threatened to resign I actually accepted her resignation. That was the end of it. I never thought it would end so abruptly. She stopped coming since the next day. She had been extremely attached to my daughter or so I thought. The fact that she hasn't asked after her even once since her departure shows that it was a sham.

We come across such employees at work too. At one point they are the most devoted, loyal and dependable employees. But they turn into a thorn in the side. What makes people so bitter? I do have another maid now and am actually paying less at the end of the month for her than before. But I still keep asking myself if it is a better bargain - after all I had invested so much in the other one.


Unknown said...

Well written as ever. Nice comparison between home and office. I would like to differ in just one aspect, where you think her attachment to your daughter was a sham. I think its unfair to think like it just because she hasn't asked after her.

Nilu said...


Thanks for your (very rare) comment:)
It probably is unfair to think what I did - but IMHO its not so difficult to pick up the phone and inquire about someone no matter what the equation.

Shruti said...

Unless the person is actually feeling a sense of shame for leaving at all and does not want to bring herself to your attention again. Why not attribute the best possible motive to somebody's action or 'inaction'?

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