Improve the Strength and Stability of Your Operation

Conduct a proper self-assessment to help guide the way

Improve the Strength and Stability of Your Operation

Taking a deep look into the inner workings of your cleaning department or organization can reveal a host of information about the strength and stability of your entire operation. As we get lost in the routine of putting out fires and managing requests both up and down the chain of command, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture.

If you fail to pan out occasionally to look at the larger picture of what is really happening at your organization, you will miss opportunities to realize efficiencies and correct productivity drains within your organization. Consider taking a holistic approach to examine your operations, highlighting where your strengths begin and where they end; this is important if you desire any kind of change, innovation, or cost savings.

A yearly or semi-annual self-assessment of your entire operation can help you strengthen outcomes on your key performance indicators throughout the year— a good spring cleaning of sorts can help you achieve exactly this.

A self-assessment is done by allocating three to six hours (depending on the size and complexity of your operations) to remove yourself from your daily tasks and view the pieces of your operation as interrelated components of a whole system. Leaders of busy cleaning operations may wonder where they will find an extra chunk of time away from their must-do tasks, but this mindset is exactly where operational decline begins. A failure to look at the big picture can lead to diminishing returns over time when leaders spend too much time working in their businesses and not enough time working on their businesses.

Step No. 1: Look Inward

In preparation of your organization’s self-assessment, check in with your own personal bias about how well or how poorly you think things are going. It has been scientifically proven that your preconceived attitudes and opinions often skew your results. By definition, a self-assessment eliminates the valuable outsiders’ perspective, so we need to do our best to take our personal opinions out of the equation. If you feel you may be too emotionally attached to the outcome, it’s OK to seek third-party help for an assessment. In fact, getting an objective view from an expert in assessments is a wise next step no matter what your involvement is in the process.

Step No. 2: Look Out to Your Facilities or Campuses

Once you have committed to viewing your program objectively, create your geographical scope by determining which buildings or campuses are included in this particular assessment. For instance, building service contractors may have multiple sites that each deserve their own assessment, as each contract has unique variables that may impact the outcome. Location and building or campus size give you clarity in planning your project.

Step No. 3: Make Your Assessment List

Next, write down all the aspects of your organization that you would like to assess. You will want to evaluate the following: efficiencies in your processes, applications of your processes, communication structures, tools and kitting, employee engagement, leadership capabilities, labor allocation, and time allocation. Determine operational activities and how well staff complete them. Assess those within your project scope using the components of your unique operation as a guideline.

Different areas of operation require different skills and training. Make sure to include the level of training required for each position in your assessment. You will also assess management, leadership, and skills, so make sure to include the requirements for all positions. Remember that training may include cross-training to allow for greater understanding (or even appreciation) for the bigger picture.

Step No. 4: Evaluate With Respectful Discretion

Now that you have released your own bias and created a complete list of assessment areas, it’s time to evaluate and document what is actually being done in your workplace.

It is best to get a real snapshot of actual practices without announcing that you are conducting an assessment. Human behavior, being what it is, will put people on their best behavior if they know they are being assessed. While I don’t advocate being sneaky, as it has a way of backfiring on you, announcing an assessment may make some individuals behave differently. If your objective is to see the realities of your operation in their truest, applied form, approach each aspect with a lightness so as to keep people from a state of alarm.

As you catalog your actual operations, pay attention to the relative strength of what you observe. You may want to categorize what you see into four different groups:

  • Note where the organization excels and can celebrate achievements.
  • Note areas that are mostly good and can be strengthened and replicated.
  • Note what requires improvement with corrective action.
  • Note what areas are cause for immediate attention.

You will use this information in your next step of looking for components and aspects that can create efficiencies for you in both time and money.

Step No. 5: Plan for the Possibilities

Envision what is possible from each aspect of your organization. This is where the best practices compiled by experts within ISSA’s Cleaning Management Institute can be extremely helpful.

In this step, create an ideal map of the exact outcomes you would like your cleaning operation to achieve. You can reference the same list of attributes that you created for your assessment tool above. You may want to include other stakeholders in this process, such as executive management or company owners, depending on your particular structure and role.

Once you have outlined your self-assessment (Step No. 1 and 2), actual practices (Step No. 3) and your ideal picture of where you want your organization to go (Step No. 4), you can embark on an integrated process of managing change within your operation. By taking a holistic approach to your assessment and making sure you have accounted for all processes and variables, you can implement the kind of change that truly lasts: change that includes your processes, appearances, logistics, and culture.

A Holistic Approach

Organizations that attempt to create lasting change while only focusing on one or two components of their operation almost always fail in making their changes stick. This is because all operational aspects of service organizations are so intertwined that they naturally affect one another deeply. An unseen weakness in one area of an organization can easily create a ripple effect throughout the operations. This is why it’s important to look across all aspects of your organization while implementing your assessment.

Conducting a regular self-assessment, either with your own tool, or by using one from a certifying arm such as ISSA’s Cleaning Management Institute, creates improvements in practice, which lead directly to improvements in strength and stability, as well as service and profitability.


Posted On March 19, 2019

Tim Poskin

Director, ISSA Consulting

Tim Poskin is the former Director of ISSA Consulting and is one of the world’s leading authorities on custodial workloading.

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