When making an honest evaluation of our cleaning group, we find areas that are considered weak and other areas that we identify as strong. We usually apply this evaluation to our group as a whole. That said, how many evaluations have we made on our staff, also classifying them as weak or strong? The immediate answer might be to deny that we have weak employees. But, the reality is that although we might be quick to deny a weakness, our actions might express something different.

In this article, I outline the steps I implemented when taking over the management of the janitorial department for Walt Disney Pictures & Television at the corporate offices in Burbank, California, and how within six months I was able to get the department on track.

Assessing Strengths And Weaknesses

My first step was to conduct an overall assessment of the department, based on the financials (labor and supplies), human resources (union grievances and disciplinary actions) and the quality of work (complaints and appearances). The goal was to develop a strategy to strengthen the weaker areas. This would provide a direction and focus that was needed to stay on point.

My initial conclusion:
• A lack of leadership with no connection or respect between janitor and supervisor. The blame was placed on both supervision and staff.
• There was no accountability from either group.
• Labor was out of control — each janitor getting a minimum of one hour of overtime per night.
• Absenteeism was up, especially on Fridays (workers were paid every Thursday).
• Supply usage was unregulated.

Before proceeding, I had to address the staff, so I scheduled meetings with both the day and night shifts. I explained that my style of management would encourage growth for all staff members, even if it meant transferring to another department. My only requirement was that they provide a quality of service that would result in satisfaction from the internal customers.

The result of the meeting with the day shift was very positive, but meeting with the night shift was not as smooth. In the end, there was a lot of work to do and a good strategy was vital in order to strengthen the weaker areas of the department. Equally as important was the need to get the buy-in from both the day and night staffs, or we would not succeed.

My goal was to address the morale and lack of confidence in the current supervision, as well as the many conflicts between staff. Next, I noted that the department was extremely overstaffed and needed to be reduced. Third, I wanted to get a handle on the overtime and absenteeism needed to be controlled. And lastly, the purchasing of supplies must be addressed.

Morale And Staff Conflicts

In an effort to identify problem areas, I provided a locked box in the break room and encouraged staff on both shifts to provide comments, of which I would address within the week. The first month, the box was full every week, but by the end of three months, complaints had ceased and the box was no longer needed.

Many of the initial comments were accusations and/or issues that were not work related. To those I would provide a general response. The more serious comments that warranted greater attention were investigated and addressed.

Overall, the box was a symbol of the change in the method of communication. It effectively illustrated that when issues arose, they would be addressed and not ignored.

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Identify And Overcome Staffing And Purchasing Challenges