Succession planning is lacking among a large number of cleaning managers and few departments are prepared for the future. What recommendations do you have for other managers who are struggling to find and train future departmental leaders?

Gene Woodard, R.E.H., Director of Building Services, University of Washington
Grow your team members. We created what we affectionately call the “Stepping Stones for Success Program” for custodians. UW Trades soon modeled their own programs after ours. We have done a lot to develop people for future promotional opportunities. Thus far, we have promoted five graduates to supervisory positions and the other graduates are high performers based on the newly acquired insights and skills learned during the nine-month program.

What specific traits/qualities do you look for in prospective/future managers?

Ada Baldwin, M.R.E.H., Director for University Housekeeping, North Carolina State University
When seeking a prospective manager, I look at their communications skills — nonverbal, oral, written and verbal — and how effective they are at communicating with staff. I also emphasize listening skills. I believe that most successful managers posses:
 • Communication and interaction with people to include staff, peers, clients and senior managers.
 • Respect for staff, management team, peers, customers, themselves and the industry.
 • Service oriented in obtaining the mission with a positive attitude. This also includes a sustainable productive vision for their team.

Babette Beene, Manager, Environmental Services, Building Care and Operations, Patient Care and Prevention Facilities, University of Texas, MD Anderson
I tapped into my director, Alonzo Gonzalez, MEA, MBA, CHFM, CHESP, SASHE, to answer this one.
Communications skills are critical, especially with our customer base and peer-to-peer. I also look for dependability and loyalty to our customers and the team. Future managers should have initiative to innovate and create new and unique methods or procedures. And they must have motivation in effectively overcoming personal and organization blocks to achieve results.
The most successful managers are very versatile and competent. They possess many talents and skills and adapt to the changing conditions to get the work done. The most successful managers accept responsibilities for their own decisions and those of subordinates. These managers accept assignments as an opportunity for growth personally and professionally.

Doreen Bessert, C.E.H., Worksite Placement Coordinator, Custodial Supervisor and Central Purchasing Agent, Manitowoc County DPWI look for honesty, initiative, motivation and persistence. It is helpful if new managers have come up through the ranks in the facility, so they are aware of the challenges the staff faces on a daily basis. These traits are valuable not only in future managers, but also in front line staff. The most successful managers possess all of these and more. They are willing to stand side-by-side with their front line staff and do exactly what their staff is expected to do, thus showing they are not asking for anything from them that the manager is not willing to perform themselves.

Michael Jones, Director of Custodial Services, Columbia Public Schools Managers need to be very organized, have great attention to detail, and be able to have the personality to be patient when dealing with custodians with various levels of education. They need to be able to have these traits, but also be visionary and always looking for new ideas and technologies.

Gene Woodard, R.E.H., Director of Building Services, University of Washington
Managers should possess humility, patience, friendliness, understanding, respect, compassion, energy, inquisitiveness, and they must be responsive and capable. These are some of the traits my custodians identified as desirable in leaders.

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