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Clean Middle East Magazine
Motivating housekeepers to achieve better cleaning results
Date: July, 2016

Brian Prystupa - - maid servicesMost housekeeping managers are often frustrated by the lack of motivation in their supervisors. However, it is crucial to see the situation from their perspective. Housekeepers are quickly trained, then thrown into a job with few rewards and high expectations for perfect results.They initially perform with enthusiasm and to the best of their abilities. Often, they obtain good results, initially. However, they soon succumb to the monotony of cleaning, given the repetitive nature of the job - the same activities, repeated several times an hour, all day, every day. No wonder then that they become demotivated quickly. And, results suffer.

When it comes to disaster management, most housekeeprs expect staff to make intelligent decisions, but often, they are not given the authority or confidence to do so. And when some are made, rarely are they supported. Managers must simply stop randomly assigning people to taskson work schedules. They should instead sit down with their staff to understand their preferred work times, preferred duties (one man’s worst job is another’s favorite), working to their individual skills and weaknesses. Make an effort to let them select their own work schedules and preferred duties – as long as the overall goals and objectives of the department are met of course (set limits). I was once shocked to discover that some people prefer permanent night shifts! That change made several people happy!
Consider split jobs – where the staff carries out one type of job activity in the morning and a different one in the afternoon. Break up the monotony by simply switching two positions to opposite half days. Also, consider some short but frequent jobs as 'keep me sharp' tasks; have some staff conduct visual monitoring of washrooms or corridors, patrolling for spills/garbage for 10 minutes every hour on the hour. Results are bound to improve dramatically, and the staff will be motivated and stimulated!
And how about their opportunity for growth and development? We casually hire supervisors, hoping they will be as good as their resume. But we seldom challenge them with tasks that test their abilities to be a supervisor. We should be grooming some high potential staff for future supervisor vacancies; this is the best motivator, and certainly helps with staff retention and company sustainability. Supervisors you develop provide predictable results. Try it; assign a capable housekeeper to lead 2 other staff for a day on a special project – you will all learn from the activity. Let your staff know you prefer to promote from within!
The same goes for supervisors. We train them in the technical aspects of cleaning, in which they are often already quite adept, but seldom train them in the strategy, flexibility and efficiency tools they need the most. These tools are the secrets of variable work schedules, changing work shifts, deep cleaning teams, quick response teams, and coaching and mentoring as motivational tools for staff retention and development. Rotating shifts makes for variability, and staff gain respect for each other’s jobs. Deep cleaning teams are great cross-training opportunities, and are discreet training moments that build teams. The teams can tackle the monthly and quarterly cleaning projects that never seem to get done.
Supervisors need to be taught the power of coaching and mentoring. They are not bosses that control staff, instead, they support staff, ensuring they have the required tools, skills, and confidence. This change in mindset can yield much improved results, as staff gain respect for their supervisor and their workplace when they feel that they are being ’invested in‘ – even if it’s only time and effort. Supervisors should constantly check daily work to provide feedback to staff, enabling staff and empowering them with on-the-spot training in correct methods. Done right, this will inspire confidence and put an end to shouting.
Supervisors should be sensitive to the needs of staff, making adjustments when possible to provide a supportive workplace environment. Most staff requirements are small and easily accommodated. Assign jobs in a manner that helps teams to develop and thrive. Put leaders with followers; sounds simple, but we often let leaders work with other leaders and followers with other followers. This leads to conflict in the first group, and lack of action in the second. A good supervisor will sense the incompatibility and rework the teams. A harmonized workplace will start to manage itself and produce the results you wish for – just support and develop your people!
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