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.