There is a stereotype that people who clean commercial buildings are untrained, unprofessional, and uneducated. We in the cleaning industry know this stereotype is far from true. Everyday housekeeping professionals demonstrate how communication and training build professionals in the cleaning industry.
The teams that clean public buildings, from stadiums and hospitals to department stores and casinos, are educated, trained, professional, and organized. These high-performance teams are built through effective communication. The heart and foundation of this effective communication is the simple truth that “housekeeping is the heartbeat of any facility.”
Proof of this was found in a newspaper article I read about a large airport in Europe where the janitors went on strike for a week. There was a photograph of trash cans overflowing with wrappers, diapers, cups, food items, and more. Passengers were walking through trash on concourses all the way out to the front curb of the airport. Not only was this visually unappealing, it was a severe health and safety hazard.
This mess shows that neglecting housekeeping or neglecting your heart—to follow the metaphor—makes a facility, or a human body, sick. Facility management—and the team responsible for the facility management work—are both invaluable. Therefore, for the team to be successful, it must work well together, develop exceptional chemistry, and be led in an effective manner. How is this accomplished? Simple—by communication. What is communication? It is finding a connection to those you are leading.
As the leader and primary communicator to your team, you are responsible for communicating to each new applicant and member the vision of the department, the mission of team members, and the part they play in accomplishing the goal of the day.
Who Does What!
Peter Drucker, the famed management expert, was asked, “What is the most important thing in an organization?” Mark Miller, a corporate executive for Chick-fil-a, was sitting in the audience that day when Drucker answered the question with the statement: “Who does what!”
Fast forward to a management development conference 10 years later in Miami, FL. Miller relayed Drucker’s answer, adding that job descriptions are essential to the foundation of any housekeeping operation.
How Do They Do It?
Each housekeeping department must follow a training program designed to communicate step-by-step how to properly complete each task for a specific assignment. This all begins with communicating to the team that there is an order of tasks, called a standard, which dictates how we do everything.
An example of a standard could be cleaning before disinfecting facility bathrooms twice a day. Another common standard is to sweep before mopping. While these examples are basic, they illustrate the general concept of a standard. These standards are written and approved by the corporation.
Proper training consists of hands-on demonstrations, for instance, how to correctly arrange an ice bucket and glasses on an amenity tray in a guest’s hotel room. However, the training is not limited solely to elements of the company’s brand; it also must include training on new cleaning equipment, chemicals, products, and techniques. With technology and innovations constantly changing within the housekeeping industry, continual learning also is part of the ongoing training. New inventions and products can and should change, develop, and affect a company’s standards.
Why Do We Do What We Do?
As the world learns more about germs, infections, and how humans are impacted by outbreaks—be it on a cruise ship, hospital, classroom or hotel—businesses have a greater responsibility to keep their customers safe through proper cleaning. Whether this safety comes by replacing linens, mopping a floor, disposing of trash, or simply making the area organized and orderly, housekeeping is a major component in the concept of “cleaning for health.” Housekeeping teams are on the front line in controlling the transfer of germs from one touch point to another and from one room to another. Limiting the spread of germs keeps guests and the public safe.
When Do We Communicate?
Every day, begin with a preshift session featuring a demonstration or review of your company’s standards, an opportunity for discussion, and an introduction of new procedures or changes. By keeping the learning “alive,” you build knowledge, which in turn builds confidence, and confidence builds professionals. Continuous training and development of your employees and team ensures that they are improving daily and that your business is improving daily, since your team is at the heart of the business.
At the end of each shift, conduct a post-shift meeting, or debriefing, about the work accomplished that day. The purpose of this debriefing is to address any issues, discuss what’s happening tomorrow, and to generally make sure everyone is on the same page. At this debriefing, find something among your team members to celebrate, compliment, or recognize. This positive reinforcement will breed good habits.
Training is the foundation of any housekeeping operation. Training must come early in your team’s career and be ongoing. Training opportunities include:
- Initial training for a new team member during the orientation process
- Individual team member training which can be completed one-on-one
- Entire team mandatory training for the implementation of a new standard, product, or procedure
- Training to review procedures.
If you are a leader who strives for excellence, educate your team members. Energize them by bringing creativeness and enthusiasm to your communication and teach for the purpose of empowering the team. It is a leaders’ task to build communication—confidence and professionalism will follow.