Career advancement, whether within the department or a transfer to another profession, wouldn’t be possible without a proper training program in place.

“Training is No. 1 here,” says Franco. “Just like a football team, you have to train and you have to practice before you step on the field. You have to spend more time training than actually performing.”

He admits the department offers so much training that some people jokingly ask him when there is time to clean. But clean they do, from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and from 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. each evening.

The training is necessary in order for Operation Freedom, a no supervisors program, to work. This program, which is approximately eight years in the making, eliminated supervisors on campus. Franco believes if employees are well trained and given ownership of their areas, they will do their jobs well without such oversight.

“They will get the job done for you because you believe in them,” he says.

The department operates with just three managers — two on the day shift — supervising 35 to 40 employees and each with two to three lead custodians functioning as assistant supervisors. The lead custodians help run the department, buy supplies and oversee the other custodian’s day-to-day work. The night supervisor oversees 20 people.

This structure works only because of the training that is in place and the belief that Franco has in his staff.

The Rice training regime begins with Operation Showcase, which employees attend the first two to three weeks on the job. Here, they learn how to clean; how to inspect their work; how to properly use chemicals, tools and equipment on the job; how to provide a high level of customer service; and more.

“The training in this building is the showcase, the standard,” Franco explains. “They learn the skills here so when they go to clean their area, they are expected to maintain those standards. Once they are taught, we know they know it, and they don’t need a supervisor, because we know they can perform.”

At the end of two weeks, their work is evaluated. If it passes muster, staff is sent out on assignment. If not, they attend another week of training. If they fail after three weeks, the job may not be good fit for them or the department, says Franco.

Once employees have passed the training requirements, they enter the Cleanology program (SEE SIDEBAR), which teaches custodians the science of cleaning and trains them to take complete ownership of the areas they are assigned.

Completing this training means staff is equipped to handle their own workspaces without supervisory intervention, says Franco. They understand the tasks they need to do, how often they need to be done, and how to check their own work without a supervisor telling them to do it.

“The staff owns their area,” he explains. “They can schedule their own work, so if the carpets are not too dirty, they can spend more time cleaning the walls or dusting, and so on. Everybody owns their area.”

Inspections occur quarterly and are performed by employees themselves, along with another employee who graduated from a higher-level Cleanology class. They inspect what’s been done and review what needs further attention, says Elam.

“People ask how we know the work is getting done,” says Franco. “I tell them that the building occupants will tell us when it’s not getting done. And our inspection sheets tell us when things are dropping off or there are discrepancies. Those two tools tell us when there is a need for training. But again, if employees are happy, they will get the job done.”

previous page of this article:
Techniques To Developing Leaders
next page of this article:
Customizing Cleaning Techniques To Building Occupant Needs