Reading a book with a mug of coffee

It's often said that a well-run company starts from the top-down. What exactly that entails, however, can be a bit vague or misleading. The truth is if executives are missing the mark on just one or two leadership components, then the entire vision can be compromised. When it comes to cleaning, this can apply to distributors, aspiring building service contractors (BSCs) and even in-house crews. 

To get a better idea of what the top executives in the cleaning industry are doing well, we extracted insight, with help from Shortform, on The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable. Written by Patrick M. Lencioni and published by Random House Audio, this book outlines a four step plan executives can enact to establish a strong foundation for a business with employees that are committed to the cause. 

Step 1: Establish A Reliable Leadership Team. An executive can have the perfect vision for how a cleaning business or frontline crew should operate, but if supervisors or managers aren’t fully engaged with what needs to be done, progress is almost impossible to make. To determine the synergy of a leadership team, Lencioni recommends paying attention to how they interact during meetings. If everyone universally agrees with any idea or pitch, it can be a sign of complacency. Healthy debate on the other hand indicates that different managers/employees have strong opinions on how things should be run, and that they care if things aren’t being executed to their full potential. Additionally, networking or team building events can work wonders for employees getting to know each other on a personal level beyond work responsibilities. A closer-knit staff decreases the chance of rumors being spread and general toxicity among the team. 

Step 2: Clearly Define the Values of an Organization. Whether it’s implementing a new scope of services or deciding to upgrade a headquarters, any significant decision should have the pulse of what serves the organization best. To determine this, Lencioni recommends looking into the prism of a client and/or the staff. An example in the cleaning realm could be a BSC looking to decide which type of equipment to invest in. If most of the clients have facilities without many large-scale rooms, it likely isn’t necessary to splash cash on a new floor machine equipped to take on industrial-tier cleaning jobs. What was intended to be a flashy upgrade to impress clients might not land well if it isn’t a good fit — let alone not an optimal use of a budget. When it comes to defining what values define an organization, it’s best not to predetermine them as employees can feel ignored. Instead, these decisions should be based off feedback from staff, and having an understanding of what they personally value. An example could include a sustainability plan for employees who are passionate about green cleaning.  

Step 3: Enforcing Said Values. After a set of core values have been identified, it’s key to stress their importance to the staff. Executives can do so through a variety of methods, including repetition. If a new online training module is being introduced, for example, an executive can set the tone by accessing it themselves routinely and showing the team how it can help everyone stay organized and evaluate how new methods are learned and exacted. Repetition also goes a long way toward convincing employees reluctant to change that new is in fact better. Technology divides are another common example — if an executive repeatedly showcases how workloading software can save managers hours of time on assigning tasks and ensuring they are done, the idea that it’s indeed helpful will more likely be ingrained into an employee’s philosophy. 

Step 4: Transform Values into Systems. Once those values have been established and ingrained through repetition by a reliable leadership team, then a business can really see the fruits of its labor. When the right training, communication, overall priorities are understood and embraced, then it leads to better hiring, fewer more mistakes, and employees that are motivated to take on more tasks and responsibilities. In particular with hiring, having employees who can honestly praise the processes of a company goes a long way in the interviewing process. Most candidates can sniff an insincere endorsement from a current staff member from a mile away, but when an employee is truly content, the energy is infectious. 

Click here to check out the book for yourself! For more Book Club, check out this latest installment on Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior. Written by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler, this book — published by McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing — offers valuable insight into how to approach employees in a prepared, but constructive manner when issues arise.