Mahler Private Staffing is Moving!

After nearly 20 years at our current location at 600 N. Broadway, during which time we have grown, changed, and continued to provide the highest level of service to our clients, Mahler Private Staffing will be relocating to new offices down the street in Milwaukee on January 25, 2018.

Our new offices are located at:
250 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Suite 1610
Milwaukee, WI  53202

We appreciate all of the clients, candidates, applicants, and team members that have made our continued success possible, and look forward to continuing the new year at our new location.

Mahler to Co-Sponsor Event with DEMA in Chicago

Mahler Private Staffing is happy to announce that we are co-sponsoring the Domestic Estate Management Association’s Chicago Chapter event this Wednesday, May 24th.  All private service professionals who perform any level of household management are invited, including Executive Housekeepers, Personal and Family Assistants, Nannies, House Managers, Chefs, and more.  This is an excellent opportunity for private service professionals to learn more about DEMA and the tools and resources they offer.

Please see details of the event and registration at the DEMA website below.  We hope to see you there!

Best Practices for On-Boarding New Household Staff

We have all been the new person at some point or another–the new kid on the block, the freshman at the big university, a manager in a new office. In such hard-to-navigate situations, receiving a tour around “campus” is customary. Communicating where the water cooler is, how the boss prefers to be addressed, or which software system is used, are small yet significant ways to welcome and acclimate a new employee. Doing so communicates to new staff members that while they have been hired for their experience and credentials, training is still an integral part of the on-boarding process. When both parties (employee and employer) are informed about one another’s needs, personalities, and expectations, everyone gets one step closer to success. Further, such collaboration creates an environment where employers are viewed as approachable, thereby encouraging employees to ask the right questions about how to succeed in their role.

Similarly, your household has its own culture, and while the time may not always be available to engage or orient a new team member the way a human resources manager might, we have found that being mindful of the following tips can make all the difference in helping your new hire get off to a running start, while ensuring your peace of mind.


The goal is to establish routine, save time, and increase productivity. Clarifying who, what, where, when, and how also fosters familiarity and encourages new team members to take ownership of their new role and environment.

1. Familiarize new employee with facilities: parking, entrances, restrooms, and personal spaces for belongings, etc.

2. Give direction on beverage and meal policies and other protocols, e.g., is coffee, tea, water provided to employees? Will employees be required to bring lunch with them daily, or can they prepare their own meals at the house? Where can personal meals be stored and enjoyed? Smoking is not permitted, texting and social media is off limits, etc.

3. Provide uniforms or attire standards for work days and events.

4. Introductions are important in making your new employee feel welcome. Introduce the new employee to all on-site staff (depending on the size of your staff) and introduce them via email to off-site employees or vendors where applicable.

5. Are there any daily basics a new staff member should know?  Such as: how to expense something the new employee purchased on the family’s behalf, areas that are restricted, whether to answer the phone or door, and where the cleaning supplies are.


As the saying goes, communication is key. In the case of your new household team member, being clear on how to communicate with principals, managers, other staff members, and vendors or contractors promotes success, efficiency, and accountability. No one wants to cross wires, and with the following tips in mind, everyone can communicate on the same wavelength.

1. Specify preferred methods of communication with your new employee, whether it is leaving notes on the kitchen counter, email, phone, or text messaging, and establish preferred times to reach you, under which circumstances, and through whom you should/could be reached, such as via your personal assistant, executive assistant, or house manager. Let new employees know how you will be communicating with them as well.

2. Share an emergency contact/vendor list.

3. Discuss your expectations on how you want guests greeted, how to manage guests’ needs, and when and how to announce guest arrivals.

4. Does your household have a log to record packages, deliveries service people, or unexpected house calls? Clarify the procedure on when and how to notify principals, managers, or staff.

5. Be clear about how to address and refer to principals, managers, other members of staff, family members, associates, and friends.


No one can read minds, so offering a glimpse into your personality, preferences, pitfalls, and pet peeves will help your new relationship flourish. Encouraging new employees to get the lay of the land goes a long way as a quick training device. For instance, we have found that, as early as week one, encouraging new employees to open every drawer and closet helps them learn more quickly where things go. Such familiarity will reduce tentativeness and foster success.

1. Don’t be shy about offering anecdotes about past situations that became “hot button” issues, if you feel you need to provide context to your new employee.

2. Advise on any allergies, environmental sensitivities, and annoying scents, sounds, or sensations.

3. Make connections by offering some relatable information about yourself, such as: you can’t resist dark chocolate, you love certain movies, you do not talk about religion or politics, or time with grandchildren is sacrosanct, etc.

4. Discuss information, situations, and other relationships that are confidential and reinforce the importance of the family schedule and family calendar.

5. Clearly communicate and/or illustrate how you envision the household functioning as well as the standards and expectations. If things have not been going well, explain why, without undermining other individuals. Highlight what is working well. Providing tangible examples will help solidify the expectations and relationship.

Security and Technology

In a fast-paced, ever-changing technological world, even you may find it challenging to keep up with the state-of-the-art functionality of your household. This is why it is even more important to arm new team members with information and directions on the technology used in your home as well as protocol that keeps you, your staff, and valuables safe and secure. We have found the following tips to be great conversation starters regarding electronics as well as the sensitive issues of privacy and safety.

1. Introduce your new employee to the security staff or other management personnel, who can explain in-depth security and fire safety protocols.

2. Supply the employee with key fobs, key cards, lock keys, security codes, emergency phone numbers, passwords, etc. If employees do not have such access, introduce them to the person who will be letting them in.

3. Provide instructions on how to arm and disarm security systems, lighting systems, and other alarms; the location and proper use of safety deposit boxes, safes, and vaults; and on the use of HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), audio/visual devices, Wi-Fi, computers, cable, washer/dryer, etc.

4. For employees who will be using a work-related laptop or cell phone, introduce them to staff members or the IT vendor in charge of such matters and review usage standards and clarify whether or not the equipment can be transported or used for personal use.

5. Are there objects that are exceptionally valuable either monetarily or sentimentally? Be sure to point them out and advise on how to protect and preserve them, whether they can be moved or cleaned, and what to do in the event something is damaged or missing.

And remember, it is a good idea to review these best practices and principles with both new employees and existing staff. Take the opportunity to update team members when you engage in the on-boarding process with a new employee. This will foster a true team spirit!

Happy On-Boarding!

“Career Conversations” rather than “Performance Reviews” – A New Take

It is the end of the year and we find that many of our clients plan to complete performance reviews for their staff at year’s end: either right after the new year or on the anniversary of their employees’ date of hire. Many clients find that this can be a challenging task, so we hope these guidelines will ease and assist with this important responsibility. We recommend that our clients take the opportunity to sit with each of their managers and establish a healthy dialogue: what we like to call a “Career Conversation.” In turn, each manager then has a Career Conversation with each of his or her direct reports. Such conversations are more positive and forward-looking than the standard or typical performance reviews, which tend to look backward. This time spent with your team is valuable and creates the space to exchange feedback, assess performance, and “take the temperature” of the manager and staff. We believe this time invested in your team is not only time well-spent, but critical to the success and cohesiveness of your organization or home.

Suggested Steps:

  1. Career Conversation Leader:Determine who is going to lead the career conversation for each employee: the principal, the House or Estate Manager, or a member of the family office.  Ideally, this should be the person that the staff member directly reports to.The principal should share their candid feedback about each staff member with the manager prior to the career conversation for each staff member they are not personally meeting with. This manager then sits down with each individual on his or her team while the principal or member of the family office would sit down in turn with the manager themselves. A quality, focused conversation takes around 45 minutes for each person. These conversations emphasize job performance, job function, feedback, and, most importantly, performance improvement.
  2. Look inward – the self-assessment:We think it is a good idea for each principal, manager, or family office member who is conducting a career conversation to first perform a self-assessment. This allows a supervisor to take inventory of their own communication patterns, work performance, and goals to determine the areas they have excelled in and where they need improvement prior to doing the same for each staff member directly reporting to them.Sample self-assessment questions:How strong are my communication skills? Do I listen?  Am I concise?

    Do I make timely decisions?

    Am I on time for meetings?

    Which areas of the company/organization need more of my attention?

    How am I empowering my team?

    Am I responsive to my team (meetings, email, etc.)?

    What are my accomplishments?

    Where do I need to improve?

    We find reflecting in this way is empowering and enables a more well-rounded approach in observing others.

  3. Information gathering and preparedness:The principal should schedule a time to sit with each individual that they will have a career conversation with, then prepare for this time together, while other managers will do the same for their direct reports. Ideally, supervisors and staff will be sufficiently engaged throughout the year so that they can have a frank and informed conversation. Principals and mangers should plan to review specific correspondences or scenarios that may highlight some of the principals’ feedback.The goal of these conversations is to benefit the employer and all employees by establishing an honest and open dialogue so that both sides can walk away with valuable insights.
  4.  The Career Conversation:It is important for the person conducting each career conversation to remind the employee at the start of the meeting that this discussion is confidential. It is always important to ensure a safe place for open and honest communication.We recommend starting a career conversation with the positive feedback. Then, ask open-ended questions like the ones below to start the dialogue. When appropriate, the person conducting the conversation can describe, with tact and sensitivity, the areas in which the employee could improve. Use specific examples whenever possible. Remember, this is also an opportunity to listen intently to each person and create a safe space for them to share not only their positive comments, but their concerns and questions. Sitting and listening to the employee’s ideas, thoughts, and concerns will enable the principal or manager to assess their strengths, intentions, and abilities so they are better able to manage the staff member and the rest of the team in the best possible manner.Sample Career Conversation questions:

    Are you satisfied in your job?

    Is the job meeting your needs?

    What did you accomplish this quarter (or year)?

    What didn’t you accomplish that you wanted to?

    What, if anything, is holding you back from accomplishments (or, Do you have the resources you need to accomplish your goals?)

    What could improve your satisfaction with your position?

    When wrapping up, the principal or manager should clearly communicate how much the employee is valued, making sure to express recognition wherever possible and citing specific examples. Areas needing improvement should be clearly outlined, giving the opportunity for the staff member to improve. After the career conversation, if there are any ongoing issues that are negatively affecting his or her job performance, clear direction should be given so shared understand is established. If issues continue with this employee, then more frequent meetings may be necessary. With ongoing issues, concerned should be communicated directly, with open conversations about next steps. Remember that people perform best in a transparent environment; whether feedback is positive or negative, it is best to be sure everyone knows where they stand.

  5. Incentives:When employees are meeting and exceeding expectations, we think it is important to acknowledge and reward them. Incentivizing each individual, and the staff as a whole, is important to maintaining and boosting morale to keep everyone striving for the common goal.
  6. Looking ahead and setting goals:Involve the employee in the goal-setting process for the coming quarter or year. Talk through how the employee can help to achieve the broader goals of the organization as well as their individual goals. Setting action steps, mile-markers, and monetary incentives can be helpful.Implementing a quarterly routine schedule for these conversations will keep goals moving along, ensure any performance issues are closely managed, and foster a sense of security that the employee can inform their manager about both their own concerns and successes more frequently.Remember, trust begets success. By consistently being honest and transparent, employees will always know where they stand and principals and managers will have a better sense of the state of their staff. With this shared understanding, employees know what to expect, which builds trust. When everyone comes together for the common good of the company, organization, or household as well as to meet the common goal, and when they trust in their leader, success is inevitable.

December 14, 2016
Presented by Mahler Private Staffing

New York Magazine features Mahler Private Staffing!

We are pleased to share our contribution to this New York Magazine article!

(You can scroll down to the end of the article for the “Now, Who Will Take Care of It” section for insights on how a home of significant size should be staffed.)

Holiday Help Has Arrived!

The holidays are approaching and it is our hope that this white paper will encourage planning in advance, allowing for a more relaxed and enjoyable season. In our experience, households that sail through the holidays utilize many of the best practices listed below.


  • Establish a holiday binder to update throughout the year – to include:
    • This year’s holiday card and any prior year’s holiday cards
    • Gifts received with a place to note that the person was thanked
    • A list of people to give gifts to
    • A list of people you tip
    • Personal staff year-end bonus history
    • Create a mailing list and shipping and return log. We believe a well-run home has a shipping/receiving log for everything that goes in and out for the holidays as well as throughout the year.
  • Determine who on your team is responsible for maintaining the holiday binder.
  • Think about your gift ideas for personal and business contacts and start purchasing early.
  • Buy multiples of gifts – this can be very efficient.
  • Inventory holiday supplies early (cards, gift wrap, bows, FedEx labels, packing materials, etc.) and order extra to have plenty on-hand.

Holiday Cards:

  • If you send cards at the holidays, determine when you want the cards to be mailed and work back 8 weeks. Plan time for reviewing recipients, addressing, signing cards.
  • Design holiday card from family (schedule photo session early if needed) – order extra cards and envelopes.
  • Design holiday card from office – order extra cards and envelopes.
  • Order plenty of stamps.​


  • Develop holiday timeline (e.g. card mailing date, entertaining/event dates, gift-sending dates).
  • Determine holiday hours and time-off preferences for staff/house.
  • Advise your goal date for office/home staff to request holiday time-off.
  • Determine if you will need temporary staff to cover for people on vacation and plan ahead.
  • Make your travel plans as early as possible and share your schedule with your home and office staff. This allows your staff to plan ahead.
  • If visiting another home, be sure all home(s) are prepared for the holidays.
  • We think it is important to have a lunch or end-of-year toast with your house staff. If you like this idea, schedule early.
  • As the invitations roll in, consider carving out a few nights at home.​

Holiday Giving:

  • Prepare your gifting list: (family, staff, friends).
  • Budget year-end bonuses for home and office staff.
  • Prepare your tip list (consult latest tipping guides to determine appropriate amounts)
    • Business – vendors, doorman, mailperson, maintenance, cleaning crew, etc.
    • Personal – Physicians, beauticians, coaches, teachers, gardener, mailperson, etc.
  • Seek out volunteer opportunities for business and personal – donate time/give back (e.g. holiday food for homeless shelter and other seasonal charities).
  • The principals of Visual Therapy, a New York-based company that provides personal shopping, closet organization and other style consulting services for many of our clients, have prepared the top gift ideas for everyone on your gift list – please have a look!


  • Assign point person to plan the holiday family dinner/celebration.
  • Create and send invitations for holiday celebrations you are having – either digital or printed.
  • Assign point person to plan the holiday office party/celebration (be mindful of culinary likes/dislikes, allergies and vegetarian food preferences).
  • Prepare itinerary and manage RSVPs for social entertaining and charitable events.


  • Keep office holiday décor neutral and/or respect different religious holidays e.g. Hanukkah, Christmas, etc.
  • Prepare décor for holidays at home.
  • Consult helpful websites (e.g. Pinterest) for decorating ideas and be sure to order in advance.

Since 1989, Mahler Private Staffing has refined our placement process to meet a single objective – match each client’s unique needs with the right staff. Widely recognized for our meticulous standards, broad service offerings, personalized approach, and exclusive network of top household, childcare, and office professionals, we are proud to have grown entirely through repeat business and referrals from satisfied clients.

We welcome a call from you any time with additional thoughts or questions. Please call us at (414) 347-1350 and ask for Barbara Jensen or Peter Mahler.

The Personal Assistant Network launches in New York!

Mahler Private Staffing is proud to be connected to the Personal Assistant Network. The Personal Assistant Network is a leading organization of professional Personal Assistants, Executive/Personal Assistants and Estate Managers based in the San Francisco Bay area. Now, they are expanding their organization to New York. The Personal Assistant Network is committed to providing continuing education and social networking in a supportive, confidential, and collaborative environment. Please see their announcement about the New York launch below:

The Personal Assistant Network is expanding, and you’re invited to our New York launch! *

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2016
Time: 6:30pm – 9:00pm
Location: First Republic Bank, Rockefeller Center
Please RSVP:

After 8 years of connecting Personal Assistants and Estate Managers in the San Francisco Bay Area – from Silicon Valley to Napa Valley, we’re journeying east to grow our community.

More about The Personal Assistant Network:

The PA Network is the leading organization of professional Personal Assistants and Estate Managers. We’re committed to providing education and social networking in a supportive, confidential and collaborative environment.

We have lively in-person meetings, educational seminars, and a private online community where we share peer-reviewed resources, job leads and career development tips.

For additional information, visit us at

*Who is invited to attend: Those who are currently working as Personal Assistants, Estate Managers or Executive/Personal Assistants. If you have previously held one of these titles and would like to re-enter the field, you are also welcome!