10 Feb Taking The Initiative
Quality in cleaning is woven into every part of our cleaner and supervisor training. Whereas many consider quality in cleaning as the final result of cleaning, we teach and deliver the concepts of quality and continuous improvement from folding cleaning cloths to optimised multi-site cleaning schedules.
For quality and improvement in cleaning to work, cleaning staff and their supervisors need to understand the needs of the organisation they work for (or are contracted to) and how their cleaning work has a direct and significant impact on the organisation. But they also need to understand the perception and expectations of those that use the rooms and areas to be cleaned – including the customers. Customer’s perception and expectations are very powerful – it may be clean but if it doesn’t look clean, staff, customers and the public are not going to have the confidence in the organisation in its entirety to keep a safe and clean place.
Cleaning checklists are a helpful way to organise routine cleaning work, which also help to promote consistent day to day cleaning and has the added benefit of getting new colleagues up to speed quickly. But because people use the rooms or areas slightly differently from day to day, even hour to hour, there is a natural tendency for cleaning to have an unpredictable element to it. This means that our response as cleaners to the cleaning requirements on sight must be flexible and adaptable. As cleaners must be observant to what we find as we carry out our tasks. This act of observance is ‘checking’ – checking surrounding surfaces to see if it needs cleaning, and clean it, if necessary, even if it’s not on the checklist.
Quality calls on cleaning staff to be attentive, to notice things, to be observant, not just a bystander, but to be an active member. A true reflection of quality and continuous improvement is to be proactive and go beyond ticking off cleaning tasks on a checklist. This is where cleaning staff need to be taught to take the initiative in a controlled way. Giving them that controlled amount of flexibility to exercise a personal judgement in response to what they see can be highly motivating, but it must be done in a structured way.