Where I grew up, we had a baseball game running on most summer days with all of the neighborhood kids participating at one point or another.
When more kids wanted to play than there were spots on the team, it was always the younger ones who had to sit it out. They were, however, expected to participate by chasing foul balls, keeping the bats in order, and getting drinks for the older kids. There were no adults to mediate disputes, but then, there weren’t many. You could play by the rules or forget about ever getting a spot on the team. These rules and behaviors were passed down from the older kids to the younger ones.
When companies are not running well, it is often because the rules are not clear, or they have not been properly implemented. As managers and owners of cleaning companies, we are the “older kids” who need to convey performance standards to our employees. Yet, we often forget that the “younger kids” don’t come in automatically knowing the rules. This can cause dissatisfaction among staff as well as lead to poor results for clients.
When creating your cleaning team, always remember to:
- Communicate the rules. No one can be blamed for ignoring rules they don’t know. Regularly review and update performance standards, and make sure they are communicated on a regular basis.
- Follow your own rules. The rules in our neighborhood applied to both the younger and older kids. The younger kids had to do the jobs we asked them to do when they were not playing, but when there was room on the team, the older kids had to let them play. You cannot get your employees to play by the rules unless you play by the rules yourself.
- Encourage participation. In our neighborhood, everyone was a team player, even when they were not on the team. Remember: Even the kids who could not play on a certain day participated in some way. As a manager, you need to allow all employees to be team players, too. When in doubt, try to listen more. The solutions to workplace problems may be inside of your employees’ brains. Become a better listener and give them a chance to express their ideas.
- Reward good behavior. In our neighborhood games, there were consequences for not following the rules; if you did not conform, you did not play. There were also rewards; if you did conform, you would play when there was a spot on the team. And if you hung in there long enough and did what you were supposed to do, you would eventually become one of the older kids who got to play every day. To turn your employees into team players, you cannot just punish bad behavior; you need to reward good behavior, as well. There should be some payback for going the extra mile or sticking with the company through thick and thin. Otherwise, there is no incentive to be a team player.
Inherently, employees want to do well. Employees want to belong. They want to be on the team. It is your job to assemble the team, decide on the rules, and show them how to play the game.