Recently, during a training session with custodial technicians, I was astounded at the lack of understanding by the students on how businesses work.
They could not comprehend that the business earned money based on the performance of the workers.
They just thought business got paid on the "sweat" of the labor force.
Some of them were angry about perceived uncaring attitudes by management to the needs of the workers.
Many of the students just thought the management of the company did not care at all about what challenges the workers faced.
Closing The Gap
It was explained to the workers that the company did care enough about the skills of the workers to order a training program to help them become more efficient, productive and skilled in their chosen trade.
I polled the workforce to find out how many of them were there against their will.
Meaning, how many of them were forced to work for the company.
Each of them explained that they had chosen their jobs without any coercion.
This brings me to my point.
The division between labor and management is not necessary.
It is a product of misunderstanding on the part of the labor force and the management of the company.
Everyone who works at a cleaning company has chosen this work.
However, many companies fail to completely build a cohesive team of professionals between labor and management disciplines.
What was realized during my conversation with the staff was that most workers are not required to understand, but it would help if they did understand how businesses operate to be profitable.
Tear Down That Wall
The current culture in most companies places a wall between labor and management.
Perhaps unintentionally, but this division of professionals causes a perceived "moat" between the ideas and outcomes of the cleaning processes.
We as professionals — labor and management — need to cross the moat and create a culture in our companies that welcomes ideas, innovation and mutual understanding.
Later in the training session, I noted a piece of cleaning equipment completely soiled and in need of several repairs.
The workers complained that the equipment was always in this condition and said they were tired of working with equipment in disrepair.
They continued to complain about how a majority of the equipment was in this condition and this fact has caused them to have to use labor intensive procedures.
I then asked the group, "Who is responsible for cleaning the equipment and processing a work order for equipment repair?"
Some shuffling about took place and the workers explained that they were responsible for letting management know that the equipment was broken.
You can''t complain about broken equipment when you are responsible for alerting management for maintenance.
And, who suffers when equipment can''t be used and workers need to mop rather than autoscrub, for instance, complete buildings?
How can things like this happen? Quite easily from a lack of communication.
People not trusting each other to act like professionals to take care of their responsibilities.
Managers, if you have workers who do not understand communication procedures, your employment hiring practices are suspect and your company goals for team member employment are not being met.
You need to hire for attitude and train for skill sets you desire.
Workers, if you do not have the skills and attitude to complete the tasks to the best of your professional ability, find a way to get your skills addressed to achieve the next level.
It is your professional responsibility.
If you are looking for different ideas to foster these types of relationships with technicians, contact Dane Gregory, a business consultant and trainer specializing in working with companies in the professional cleaning industry. He currently trains technicians in the use of cleaning protocols for stone, tile and masonry surfaces for IICRC Certification. He also presents a business opportunity for newcomers in the cleaning industry in the care of ceramic tile, stone and grout, with a full equipment and training package. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.