(From the LinkedIn group Janitorial Management)

Question:

Any ideas for promoting and enforcing accountability with evening supervisory staff?

This is been a battle I have been fighting for some time. I have a good staff of employees supervising my buildings at night. They have really turned some difficult situations around. However with that said, sometimes I can’t rely on them for some of the simplest tasks. I am currently running 3 supervisors, with 1 of them being the lead. Collectively they supervise about 115 buildings. I would be very interested in hearing how some of my Linkedin friends have their operations and structured…

Answer:

That’s a Big Question!

What I think I really hear you saying is that the performance of your supervisors is uneven. Sometimes they master delicate situations and demonstrate impressive decision making and other times they miss things you consider “basic” Is that right?

If it is, I think the diagnosis for the problem is a lack of clearly defined expectations and or feeling of empowerment.

The good news is that your supervisors have really good skills at times. Think about it: this is much better than having supervisors who consistently demonstrate that they are not up to the job, right? If they can do a good job sometime, they can probably do a good job (almost) all of the time, they just need to be developed a little more. Here’s what I recommend you look at:

Do they have clearly defined job descriptions? Things that seem like simple tasks to you may either be things that they don’t know are expected of them or they really don’t know how to do them.

Do they know what the expectations and standards are for performance? The fact of the matter is that “common” sense is not very common, so maybe they aren’t really clear on what’s expected, or maybe they were expecting “someone else” to take care of it. Remember that the skill set required for an on-site supervisor (them) and an operations manager (you) are quite different. You may need to be specific about the simple tasks that you want done.

What sort of training do you have in place?Nothing improves your results as quickly as putting in place systems and processes. Use a 3 step process:

Explain (either verbally or in writing) exactly what you want done and how you want it done.

Demonstrate. Show them exactly what you want done by doing it while they watch. Give them an example to “model”, use role-playing if appropriate. In person or videos are both excellent training tools.

Replicate. Have your supervisor perform the action or task you’re teaching. Modify, correct and coach until they can do it exactly as you want.

Are they afraid to fail? Make sure that you lavishly praise the behavior that you want to see repeated and see if you can identify some trends that may point out what the individual strengths are of each supervisor. Then concentrate on building those up. Encourage them to share “success stories” with each other so they can learn and grow as a team.

Focus on empowerment. This is too big a topic to cover in a LinkedIn thread, but it will pay off handsomely if you can get your supervisory staff to begin taking ownership of their performance (and results) and to take on more initiative in solving and even forestalling problems.

Go here for detailed info on Employee empowerment:

http://humanresources.about.com/od/managementandleadership/u/manage_people.htm#s9

Hope this helps! Managing people and organizational structure can be a difficult skill to develop, but because we are in the “people’ business, it’s something you’ll need to be good at. Try not to think of is as a battle though. Keep trying and learning and you’ll do fine.

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