Managing the Cleaning Ladies

While going to school I needed a part-time job that paid well.  I was hired as a cleaner for an independent contractor – we cleaned upper-end homes and offices.  After working for The Cleaning Ladies for a year, I was promoted to supervisor and was in charge of one important office building with 3 girls cleaning along with me, which gave me practice implementing the four functions of management.

Together, my boss and I put together our plan of attack.  This operational planning involved looking at the layout of the building and dividing up tasks among the staff.  There was a lot to get cleaned within a specific time frame, so I needed to be organized with a detailed system.

I organized the different tasks according to the ability level of my staff.  The new cleaners were typically assigned to the floors – vacuuming and mopping, unfortunately the most strenuous of jobs.  For the girls who had been cleaning for a while, I was able to say “clean the bathrooms” and knew they had the experience and knowledge of how to clean a bathroom according to The Cleaning Ladies’ standards.  As we all met at the job site for the first time, I began by going over the job design, delegating each member their tasks and made sure everyone was on the same page as far as expectations and time restraints.

Being a leader is very important, because the kind of work you do in front of your employees reflects in their performance.  Cleaning is a hard, physically demanding job.  I made a conscious effort to not moan and groan, but to be quick and determined.  I rarely came down on anyone, but if I had to, it was always to the point and not personal.  Being a leader is difficult because you want to set a good example, but you also want your staff to like you. 

Finally, I kept control of the job by checking in with my initial system.  If it was not working to plan, I would change routines.  For instance, if I could see a girl was struggling with the mopping because of exhaustion, I would offer to finish for her while she could do my dusting.  After the day was complete, I would report back to my boss with pros and cons about our system so we could adjust for a better result next time. 


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