As a manager of cleaning operations, working for the same organization and seeing the same people every day, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.
This is especially true in cleaning where many of us fell into our occupation rather than choosing it.
While the changes in your duties as you rise through the ranks may be obvious, how you fit into the profession and where your future lies may not be — unless you take the time to step out of your comfort zone and see things in a new way.
Take the case of Ramon.
He’d been working at the union building of a major university for eight years — three while a student and five as a full-time staff member.
Two years before, when he was promoted to night supervisor, he’d promised himself the job would only be temporary, but the pay was good and with his wife expecting their first child, this was hardly the time to try something new.
Yet each week as he finished up his paperwork, he felt less and less satisfied and wondered if he wasn’t destined for something more.
Going To Florida
One night as Ramon got ready to shut down his computer, an email popped up from the operations director marked “Urgent.”
Fearing the worst, he opened it: “Due to a family illness, I will not be attending the Cleaning Conference next week in Orlando. I would like you to go in my place. Please contact me as soon as possible.”
Two days later, Ramon was on a plane wondering how a trip to Florida, though welcome, fit into his job description.
But when he walked into the convention center with his university colleagues, Ramon felt a rush of adrenaline.
The exhibition hall was lined with booths.
Ramon had no idea there were so many companies involved with cleaning.
There were chemical and equipment companies with well-known names but also hundreds of small companies that supplied products he’d never heard of.
Over the next few days Ramon attended classes ranging from advanced hard floor maintenance to effective ways of communicating with employees.
He met manufacturers, distributors, building service contractors (BSCs) and in-house facilities people from all over the world.
He talked with speakers and consultants as well as people who simply wanted to learn more about the opportunities the cleaning industry had to offer.
He grabbed every piece of literature he could find and eventually returned to his job filled with ideas for improving cleaning operations at the university.
Seeing The Big Picture
Attending events and interacting with others in the business can change your perspective in several ways.
1) Knowing you’re not alone.
As a cleaning consultant, I have found that most cleaning operations have similar issues and benefit from similar solutions.
Get outside of your comfort zone and your organization to find them.
2) Developing win-win relationships.
Winners are people who have skills you admire; ask them to share their skills with you.
Most will appreciate your enthusiasm.
At the same time, become an expert in a certain aspect of your own job and share your expertise with others.
3) Visualizing the future.
Exposure to the cleaning industry, at multiple levels, is the best and most productive way to find and create your place within it.
Set specific goals and let people inside and outside of your organization know you are looking for more responsibility.
Help your employers see the future, and you will set your place within it.
When Ramon left for Orlando, he saw himself as just another guy with a job that paid the bills.
He returned knowing he was part of an important and growing industry in which he had a promising future.