It’s important to find better people—your success depends on it. Better people will do the things your existing employees are not doing today. Better people are more reliable and trustworthy and will take the initiative to do better work. These people will finally kiss your company’s problems goodbye. So, go find them and your issues will disappear—right?
While getting better people (more importantly, the right people) onto a team is critical, too often managers find themselves thinking that one thing—that silver bullet—will solve their problems. In the building services industry where people are the most critical part of companies’ success, business leaders can find themselves drawn into thinking: If I could only find better people or better train the ones I already have, my problems will go away. It makes sense. Better, more effective people can be a key to solving problems and delivering on promises made to customers. There is no doubt that getting the right people onto your team is important, yet that issue alone is not going to ensure success.
Now, if we replace the word “people” with “leaders” here, we uncover the real issue. Your success depends on leadership—effective leadership. Many companies are not filled with effective leaders. Effective leadership is about getting the right people onto your team. It is also about developing people, executing plans, and achieving goals. This, in turn, involves effectively teaching, communicating, supporting, solving, and being connected to your team. Leadership is not telling people what to do and expecting (or hoping) they’ll get it right.
Consider the following: company X hires a new employee and advises her of the building location, start time, and supervisor’s names. When the new employee arrives—a bit nervous, but excited—she is greeted by the supervisor and off-they-go. “Nice to meet you. Looks like we need to get you a company shirt. Let’s walk down to security and get you badged. On our way, I’ll give you a quick tour of the building areas you need to clean. There are two floors. You only need to clean the office areas—the production area is not included in our scope of work. Clean the bathrooms and breakroom areas; empty the trash; vacuum in front of the elevator; and, make sure the lobby mats and floors are clean. The dumpster is down this hallway. Your supply closet is down this side hallway. Here are the keys—the numbers coincide with the door locks. You get two 15-minute breaks and 30-minutes for lunch. Here’s my mobile number. Any questions? Cool—got-to-go. Remember, call me if you have any questions.” This happens. In fact, this happened. I’ve witnessed it first-hand.
So, how do you think this new employee did their first night? She had no prior experience. Do you think she stayed the entire shift—or got frustrated and left? She had all the qualities you look for—reliability, trustworthiness, and a strong work ethic—and was a big upgrade from the person you just let go. Do you think your customer is going to buy another one of your excuses after failing to complete the work—again?
Getting the right people onto your team is important. Yet, everything you do after you hire them is more important.
Teach Good People How to Succeed
Your ability to deliver on the promises you make to your customers involve a lot of factors, not the least of which is getting the right people and teaching them how to succeed. Think about what it takes to deliver the promise you’ve made to your customers—people, tools and equipment, training, a game plan, and leadership. Here are some points to consider in order to fulfill that promise:
- People: Find the right people. It’s not easy to do, but it is essential. Hire people that are reliable, trustworthy and motivated with a strong work ethic.
- Products, Tools, and Equipment: Equip your people with the right cleaning products, tools, and equipment to do their work. Teach them about the products they’ll be using and show them how to properly use their cleaning tools and equipment. Don’t assume people know how to use the products and tools or that they’ll figure things out on their own.
- Processes and Training: People want to know what to do and how to do it. Teach them how to clean, what steps to follow, and what you expect. Don’t assume people will know what to do.
- Communicate and Execute a Plan: Your plan is the commitment you have made to your customer. Your people need to know what is expected of you and of them—the scope of the work, the specific requirements, and the task. Following the completion of every job, inspect the work. Then, make sure things get done as you’ve promised your customer they will.
- Effective Leadership: Your role as a leader is to teach people how to succeed by preparing them to do their work, communicating plans, supporting their efforts, fixing problems as they arise, and staying connected. As an effective leader, it is important to be well-versed in the work you and your team do by showing your team what to do, how to do it, and what you expect. People look to you for leadership and direction and must know they can count on and trust you.
Your success does depend on finding the right people. It also depends on teaching the right people. There is no silver bullet that will fix your problems or ensure your success, so start thinking about success differently. Your success begins with the right leadership.
By Brian L’Heureux, Division Manager, Spartan Chemical Company