“Establishing an effective and repeatable planning process is critical to the success of any team,” Jocko Willink (Extreme Ownership, P.209).
Life is unpredictable. Our standard routines can change overnight. The world of “business as usual” becomes a phase we start to miss when a new challenge raise. Many of us (including myself) must create new plans for the coming month (or months). Creating a planning process is the greatest way to ensure success for any project, training, sales campaign, or starting a contract for a new client.
Start Planning by Asking Questions
Plans by nature, are to provide direction, purpose and a goal. At work, “the boss” gives a goal to management, then management helps the employees to accomplish the goal. The big picture cleaning service goal is simple: Keep the building clean. However, there are several tactics where a plan is required. For instance, creating a new process where all workloads are shared as a team requires a requires thoughtful planning.
There are also many other factors that should be considered when creating a plan for cleaning teams, such as:
Where the janitorial closets are located.
Timing how long it takes to mop an area before replacing the water.
Calculating how much chemical will be needed to clean an area.
Is there a lot of foot traffic in the building?
How many team members are needed to clean the building, etc...
A good plan helps the team stay safe, clean faster and saves money for the company and the client.
Prepare for Problems and Minimize the Risks
In the Cleaning Service Industry many of our team members work by routines. However, having an effective routine comes with solid planning. For every plan you must prepare for every roadblock, issue, or problem, and try to minimize the risk of those threats as much as possible.
Allow Input from Those Affected by the Plan
Creating an effective plan also requires input from team members who’ll be performing the duties. Allowing those who are directly affected by the plan to contribute ideas will give the team members a sense of ownership over the project.
Make the Plan Easy to Understand
Not only should team members be involved in the planning, the plan itself must be simple enough for them to understand. If no clear direction is given the overall goal will never be reached. Make sure team members understand the plan by asking them questions.
Do you understand why we're trading off duties?
Do you understand why the restrooms need to be clean at these times?
Do you know how much chemical is needed to mop the lobby?
After the plan is put into action how well did it work out? Spend time reviewing how effective the plan worked, take lessons learned and apply it to the next plan.
For those of us who like an outline here’s a useful Leadership Checklist (Tips paraphrased from “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, P. 207 - 208):
· Analyze the mission (project and/or building).
o Understand the intent and work duties of the contract and the overall goal.
o Identify and state your intent and the goal for the specific mission (project and/or building).
· Identify personnel, assets, resources, and time available.
· Distribute the planning process.
o Empower key leaders within the team to analyze a possible course of action.
· Determine a specific course of action.
o Lean toward selecting the simplest course of action.
o Focus efforts on the best course of action.
· Empower key leaders to develop the plan for the selected course of action.
· Plan for likely issues and/or problems through each phase of the operation.
· Reduce risks that can be controlled as much as possible.
· Delegate portions of the plan and brief to key junior leaders.
o Stand back and be the tactical genius.
· Continually check and question the plan against emerging information to ensure it still fits the situation.
· Brief the plan to all participants and supporting assets.
o Emphasize Home Office’s Intent.
o Ask questions and engage in discussion and interaction with the team to ensure they understand.
· Conduct post-project debrief after operation.
o Analyze lessons learned and apply them in future planning.