For many years, I have been advocating for the idea of establishing a performance-based model for cleaning.
The results of this strategy have been nothing short of amazing, with cost reduction as a basis for performance improvement.
Yet, some have asked me, “What does the idea of performance-based cleaning have to do with minimizing harm while cleaning?”
At its core, performance is about final results; it is a focus on what is delivered over how it is delivered.
As suggested by Extreme Green Cleaning, the key performance result is the elimination of harm to our health, safety and our environment from the chemicals and products we use to clean.
It’s not just about performance and results anymore; it’s about delivering the least harmful cleaning performance needed to protect all of us.
After nearly 40 years in this industry, advising clients throughout the U.S., it has become clear that 85 to 95 percent of all barriers to successful performance are the found in systems that management specifies, designs or controls.
Typically, fewer than 15 percent of the problems associated with performance are worker-related.
Thus, real performance has the greatest success when you define performance by the results of the cleaning program as opposed to the cleaning activity as a standalone.
To really succeed, performance results — cleanliness, health and environmental safety — must be measured, analyzed and specifically defined within the context of a performance-based philosophy.
The resulting performance must be clearly defined as a standard; any established guidelines must be monitored and improved consistently.
Most importantly, managing performance is a strategy that focuses on establishing a predictable connection between the results received and the price paid.
Within this model, what you get — the performance of employees and the cleaning tools and equipment being employed — determines what is done — the process administered to achieve maximum results from available tools and equipment — which determines what you pay — the overall price, including staffs’ salaries, investments in training and overhead.
To some, this may seem a bit strange: Too often, the price is agreed upon, the service system is cut to fit the price and performance is what you get from what’s left.
Today, we are evolving beyond the “green” movement toward the notion of sustainability.
It seems like the dust has not settled on creating an agreed-to model for our future; nonetheless, at the root of all this branding and re-branding of ideas lays a foundation for protecting our people and our planet.
Finding products, strategies and models that move to truly protect us is vital as we think about the future of our industry.
In that thinking, you’ll find a least harmful strategy that captures where we are today and can lead us into tomorrow.
Similar Starting Points And Common Goals
A least harmful cleaning strategy has the performance goal to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate the harm created by the way we clean — or don’t clean — our buildings.
This will be achieved through the evolution of cleaning products and strategies, while connecting them in a comprehensive and integrated system traditional, green, natural and chemical-free alternatives.
While chemical-free cleaning may be ideal, it’s not easily implementable, nor is it entirely practical.
On more than one occasion, I’ve been presented with a question along the lines of, “Should traditional, green and natural cleaning products be included as part of today’s cleaning strategy?”
My reply is always the same: “Of course they should!”
We need to use every product, idea and strategy at our disposal to deliver the best performance possible in order to succeed in today’s business culture.
But, we must recognize the balance of risks and rewards from the chemical mixtures we adopt and form a hierarchy of toxicity to weigh the pros and cons.
With the introduction of toxic-free, chemical-free cleaning strategies and technologies, we are a step closer to improving personal health and safety, the ecosystem and our budgets — all the while resulting in stellar cleaning outcomes.
Within the envelope of safety and effectiveness, a highly effective system of cleaning can be specified, designed and delivered.
And, that’s the kind of performance more and more organizations are demanding.
The Eternal Journey
Several industry leaders and select innovative organizations are beginning to emerge, continuing the journey toward least harmful, performance-based cleaning success.
One more common question I’m asked is, “How do you know if your cleaning program is evolving toward a least harmful system?”
I simply tell them, “The answer is found in using the correct equipment, selecting the best materials, utilizing the proper products and employing sustainable strategies.”
As that is far easier said than done, we usually chat about the fundamentals of conceptualization and the emerging technologies that make non-toxic, chemical-free cleaning a reality.
These ideas, as suggested in Extreme Green Cleaning and in my last several “Fact-based Management” columns, are being echoed by more than just our cleaning industry peers; many in the scientific community are hypothesizing the possibilities and conducting tests, performing research and analyzing the results to conclude what I’ve been saying all along: It works.