Communication is a major factor in any management process and the cleaning industry is no exception. As America becomes more diverse, the challenge to communicate clearly to front line workers increases exponentially. Following are some terms that all workers need to understand so that the job is performed as per specifications rather than simply being told to “clean the way you would at home.”

The word “clean” can be a verb or descriptive of any area. When you instruct a worker to “clean” an office or a day care center or a hospital waiting room, what do you mean? Even more important, what does he/she understand when told to do so? How do you clarify to him/her the steps necessary to fulfill the requirement for the area to be considered “clean?” This in part will be determined by the outcomes required or desired.

For instance, “free from dust” may mean that the worker must dry/damp wipe all flat surfaces or it may have restrictions on what areas are off limits. In my office, the cleaning service DOES NOT dust our computers or keyboards even if they are turned off. Most of us have a dust cloth that we use periodically to “clean” our screen and desk top area. Workers have been instructed on what they are to do and what they are not to do.

An example, is that I recently tried to get the custodian spot checking the rest rooms to assist with an overflowing trash can from a luncheon we were having. She said “no” and walked away since those were her instructions. That night when the area was serviced, they had to work on a spot from the leaking trash can liner that could have been avoided if there had been better communication.

“Clean” like “beauty” is in the eye of the beholder. Be sure your workers understand what and how they are to clean their assigned area.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean…

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or