The House Manager – An Essential Employee Or An Outdated Role?
So what exactly is a House Manager and is this role relevant in the modern world?
For the most part, a House Manager is exactly as described; someone who takes care of someone else’s home/s or living space whether the employer is in situ or out of town. Furthermore, it would seem that the role is as essential today as it ever was in the far distant past of high society with grand stately homes and glamorous town houses. In reality, employing an efficient and competent House Manager may be more important in the modern world of today than ever before.
The reason why this role is far from outdated is actually very simple. It is not unusual for a wealthy family to own multiple homes and these homes need to be perfectly maintained and run like a well-oiled machine at all times. Homes should be well organised, well stocked, and welcoming to the both the homeowners and their numerous visitors, often at short notice.
We live in a fast moving world which is shrinking year on year and many of the global rich, cross time zones on a weekly basis, often at the drop of a hat. Someone has to be at the helm co-ordinating arrivals and departures, stocking kitchens, organising the maintenance of gardens and the spotless presentation of these properties.
What are the key skills of a competent House Manager?
- A large dash of public relations know-how, a hospitality management background and the ability to perform swiftly and silently, in the background and without fanfare, are essential skills.
- Needless to say, having superb organisational talents, excellent management skills, great patience and the ability to keep cool, calm and collected in any situation are high on the list of must-have attributes.
- Although there are very few formal qualifications, the skills required to handle this complicated and expansive role are extremely diverse and impossible to list simply because so much depends on the requirements of the employee and job description.
What duties may be included in the role?
Almost anything involved in managing a household or multiple households could be included in the duties. These are just a few examples of possible tasks:
- Handling and sourcing other household staff and organising their duties. Conflict management / solving disputes may be necessary.
- Stocking the household with food, drink, toiletries and other essential paraphernalia.
- Ensuring that clothing is kept laundered, shoes buffed and all personal items cared for.
- Some PA duties could be required – certainly answering phones and dealing with routine household bills and correspondence are likely. In certain cases organising travel arrangements may be among the requested duties.
- Organisation of child care or possibly, personally accompanying children between homes.
- Caring for domestic animals, including the organisation of veterinary checks and routine care. Managing the family stables has been an essential role for a house manager on many occasions.
- Liaising with outdoor staff to ensure that the grounds of a property are kept well-manicured and seasonally beautiful.
- When a problem arises within the house or grounds the house manager would be expected to find a solution without disturbing the homeowner.
- Helping with plans and preparations of events is a given, including booking caterers, chefs, sourcing specialist items, foodstuffs, liaising with florists and musicians, organising the dressing of rooms, hiring seating or extra accommodation for guests.
- Taking care of details concerning vehicles, scheduling servicing, cleaning or transportation to other locations.
- Being available, ready and capable of travelling with or before the family to other locations.
The notion of domestic service may seem a little outdated, and yet it survives and even thrives unscathed and ever more essential for the busy and wealthy families and entrepreneurs. Rather than considering the role of House Manager to be one of servitude, it could be said to be the most challenging of professional roles with endless opportunities to rise within the profession simply by providing a service that is second to none to the employer.