Leadership Tips To Implementing Positive Changes

According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, only 32 percent of workers are engaged, 51 percent aren’t engaged, and 17 percent are actively disengaged, meaning they take shortcuts and are argumentative. Many believe this is the case because 62 percent of managers aren’t actually engaged themselves (2014 poll).

These stats were the basis of sessions at the Green Clean Schools Leadership Institute in Maryland last month. And they beg the question: If there are so many workers disengaged, how can the engaged managers implement positive changes?

During the two-day meeting, organized by the Healthy Schools Campaign, the goal was to answer this question, address the challenges school cleaning managers face in advancing green cleaning programs, and create leadership skills needed to promote those programs.

I had the pleasure of attending this event along with 80 green cleaning leaders from more than 20 schools across the country. And I have to say, this was like no gathering I’ve ever attended.

It began with a simulation that put each attendee in the shoes of a school facility cleaning manager responsible for launching a district-wide green cleaning program. Broken into small groups, we were challenged with convincing parents, students, teachers, administrators and staff of the benefits of green.

My team started off strong, creating proper education on our green initiatives. We had the support of our superintendent, principals and school council members, and all was going well. That is, until we were faced with a disgruntled high school guidance counselor and a checked-out elementary school teacher that wanted nothing to do with us or our healthy cleaning program.

There will always be roadblocks like these when trying to get buy-in for green cleaning programs. But how do you get these naysayers to be engaged? According to Healthy Schools Campaign’s Leadership Council members, it’s all about honing your leadership skills, creating education, and constructing an environment of trust and empowerment.

Leadership Council members have presented real-world examples of these steps in each issue of Facility Cleaning Decisions**. This month, Kimberly Thomas, executive director at Clarke County School District, explains how she worked with her team, school officials and the community to improve the health of students and staff.

Thomas, along with the other eight Leadership Council members, will also be on hand at the Green Clean Schools Forum, discussing practical applications of Healthy Schools Campaign’s 5 Steps to Green Cleaning in Schools. The Forum is a two-day event presented by Healthy Schools Campaign and ISSA, which will be held during the ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade show, Oct. 25 through 26 in Chicago.

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