We’ve got quite a backlog of posts waiting to go up about LCCs (Local Community Counselor) — those agency employees who are in charge of your local cluster of au pairs and host families.
If you use an agency, your LCC can make or break your au pair experience. She is the link between the rules and reality, between the general and the specific, and between the needs of the host families and the needs of the au pairs. Your LCC needs to be effective, and you need to maintain a strong relationship with her.
Let’s start a conversation about LCCs, what we need from them, what our au pairs need from them, and what they need from us to make sure everyone has a great au pair experience. First, we’ll establish what makes an LCC really great.
The easiest way to see the difference between great LCCs from those who are simply good are the qualities that they display when there is some kind of problem between the host family and the au pair. In these situations, there are
3 Qualities that really great LCCs demonstrate: Perspective, Empathy, & Discretion.
When a problem arises in a host family-au pair relationship, a great LCC should be able to take the perspective of each important party — one after the other — so that she can then step back and also see the ‘big picture.’
A great LCC can see the situation from the au pair’s point of view. She can understand how a 20-ish young person challenged by a new culture and a new family system might interpret what’s going on.
A great LCC can also see things from the host parent’s perspective. She can understand the tension between needing an employee and wanting a trustworthy family member. She can tell the difference between expectations that are appropriate and expectations that are out of line.
And, a great LCC can see the situation from the perspective of the Agency and ‘the law”. She knows the rules, she understands why the rules exist, and she knows how to explain the principles behind the rules when host families and /or au pairs fail to recognize the rules.
A great LCC should be able to respond to the emotions that get triggered during a tough host family-au pair situation. The great LCC is able to show sympathy to the host mom who has discovered that her au pair has totaled the new minivan, and she is able to show some concern for the au pair whose BBH just dumped her.
A great LCC is also able to model in her own expressed emotions how big or how little a problem really is— the totaled minivan is something that can be fixed, the broken heart is something that can be healed, the disrespect is something that cannot tolerated.
A great LCC makes you feel like she ‘gets’ how it feels, regardless of how logical or predictable the situation is.
A great LCC uses her discretion to protect your privacy and your au pair’s privacy. She does not discuss your family’s systems or situations with other families. When au pairs and families confide in her, she puts everything under the ‘cone of silence’. A great LCC will never share your secrets with others.
She may find ways to share stories of other families and other au pairs, to help give you some perspective on a situation, but she does this in a way that protects everyone’s privacy.
Those are my top 3 Qualities of a Great LCC.
What are yours?