CHAPTER 13-: This is the thirteenth chapter of “The Complete Guide to Starting a Cleaning Business.” Division of labour is a term that you perhaps came across or even studied during your junior high economics classes. The reason why you need to renew your knowledge of division of labour in order to start a successful cleaning company is because anything to do with the word labour is of great relevance to the owner of a service based business.
The success of your business literally lies in the hands of your employees. If they do not perform to their full potential, then your business is headed towards the gutter in this highly competitive capitalist society. Division of labour therefore is a tool or a means through which you can convert a generic team of cleaning staff into a well oiled lean, mean cleaning machine.
What is Division of Labor?
If you are not aware of what division of labour is or have forgotten the meaning of the word and how it impacts a business organization, then now is your time to brush up on your basic economic skills. Division of labour of is basically the segregation of all your employees into units which are each responsible for carrying out one particular task in the whole production process. In the context of a cleaning company, division of labour helps you to break down your entire cleaning service into various segments and then appoint an employee to be responsible and accountable for that particular segment of the service.
For example, if you are assigned with the colossal task of cleaning a huge office space belonging to a major corporation, then you can divide the entire task into various parts such as mopping the floor, removing the dust on the table, clearing the stain off the windowpanes, collecting the trash, disposing the garbage and so on and so forth.
Now realistically speaking, you cannot have one member of the cleaning staff doing all the work in such a massive assignment. You need a team of cleaners who have their work cut out for them. In other words, you will have one person mopping the floor, another person taking care of the trash and a third person removing the stains from the windowpanes. This is what division of labour does to a cleaning service company.
Division of labour is not always as simplistic as the above mentioned example. If it was, then the very best entrepreneurs in the world who run service based businesses would not be spending precious hours of their work days trying to figure out the perfect division of labour strategies. The whole ordeal is comparable to being the head coach of a soccer team for example.
As the coach of a soccer team, you need to assign each player with a certain role when setting up the tactics for a particular match. One player is assigned the task of running up and down the flank, while somebody else is asked to stick close to the prolific goal scorer in the opponent team, while yet another player is given playmaking responsibilities to support the striker in your own team. The entire strategy is divided into various parts. Similar to that, division of labour in a cleaning service company is based on realizing and recognizing the ability of your workers and then assigning them tasks that are in line with the special skills they possess.
Division of labour is therefore alternatively known as the specialization of the workers. Now this may stir up a few problems for you as a business owner. If you lack experience in the industry of the cleaning business, then you may be tempted into thinking that being a member of the cleaning staff does not really require special skills. You may feel that anyone and everyone can fulfil the obligations at a jobsite and carry out the assignment given to you by a client.
This is quite obviously a faulty assumption. A degree of specialization is required to excel in your job as a member of the cleaning staff. Not everyone in your team can mop the floor at the same speed for example. Not everyone in your team is good at diligently picking up trash, collecting it and then disposing it without leaving a single speck on the floor or the property of your client. Sure, you can train your employees to be highly versatile and be an expert in all areas of cleaning. But the question you need to ask yourself is, is it really worth it to train your employees to be a super worker and be capable of doing everything when you can train each individual to be perfect at a particular task. That saves your time as a boss and a trainer and gives your employees something to be focused at.
Before you can go into division of labour, you need to first come up with a number for the kinds of jobs that you have at your company. This is something that you may have already achieved while trying to form a fair and well organized pay structure. Once the number is in your hand, the next step of implementing division of labour is getting to know more about your employees. A careless entrepreneur is one who simply relies on his or her hiring managers to carry out the recruitment and assemble the “best” cleaning staff in town. You need to be highly proactive as a business owner. You cannot be out of touch with your employees and their activities.
In a cleaning business like the one that you are aiming to open up, it is imperative that you know each and every single one of your employees, no matter how menial their job may be. This is absolutely essential during the initial few months of your business. Later on, when your business expands and grows, you can focus on particular individuals who interest you and who you see as potential money makers for your business. But for now, get a list of all the employees in your hands and conduct personal interview sessions with them in order to discover their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you to establish division of labour in your cleaning service company.
Another way in which implementing division of labour is similar to coaching a soccer team is that it involves rotation of your players i.e. the rotation of your employees. Perhaps the biggest misconception about division of labour is that it does not allow you to explore and experiment the abilities of your employees. Division of labour is not about forcing your employees to perform the same task over and over again without being able to try out something new every once in a while. That is a militant and extremist approach to division of labour which is not likely to pay off.
Among all the skills that a member of the cleaning staff can posses, a particular cleaner can have 2 or 3 different skills that you need to pay attention to. Once a worker becomes an expert in a specific task of a cleaning assignment, appoint him to concentrate on a different task. This will allow him to stay free from monotony which happens to be one of the biggest drawbacks of “extreme division of labour”. Monotony or boredom can set in quite easily in the mind of a worker who has been asked to do the same task repeatedly for a long period of time. This is bad news for both the worker and you. If the worker becomes bored, then he or she will lose interested in the task at hand. When interest is no longer present, concentration fades away, and as a result the quality of the cleaning service drops drastically.
If this fever of monotony or boredom affects all your employees, then the entire cleaning team will end up doing a miserable job for a client of yours, and the next thing you know, your incensed will refuse to pay a dime to you for the horrendous work put on display by your workers. This is why you need to rotate your workers based on their strengths and weaknesses. If someone is the best at mopping the floor, then ask him to shift over to wiping the furniture in the estate. This will keep their creative juices flowing and provide them with the added incentive to learn and improve. When a worker is not pursuing improvement, then he or she is likely to put up a poor performance.
Another disadvantage of extreme division of labour that you need to be careful about is interdependence. If all the workers in your team are only specialized in one particular job and have little to no expertise in other tasks, then you are landing your cleaning service company in some serious hot water. Why is that? Here is an example for you to better understand the problem of interdependence. Coming back to the scenario of cleaning a huge office space, if one of your workers, let’s say the one that is specialized in collecting trash, decides not to take a sudden sick leave, then the operation of your entire cleaning team will be jeopardized.
No matter how well the other employees mop the floor, or wipe the furniture or remove the stains, the trash will remain lying on the floor uncollected and this will seriously anger the client. Even if another employee takes the initiative under your instructions to collect the trash, he is likely to make a series of errors which will cause the floor to remain untidy and unclean. Once again, incomplete jobs like these will not please the client at all. Therefore, if you do not want to incur the wrath of the customer, then you better start training your workers to have at least another set of skill other than the one that they are specializing on to make sure that the absence of a fellow employee does not leave the cleaning team in the pothole during an all important operation.
Implementing division of labour can sometimes get in the way of sustaining strong team chemistry and the individual morale of your employees. Since all the efforts are collaborative, there is not a lot of job pride at stake for the workers. Once a massive project has been completed successfully and your business has been reimbursed generously by the client, there is not much room for your workers to stand up and take credit for the job, since they weren’t entirely responsible for the success. Not being able to boast about a successful project can dampen the spirit of a lot of workers and influence them to not put so much effort the next time around. This is another disadvantage of division of labour that you need to handle.
The best antidote to this problem is instilling the sense of belief and confidence in each and every single employee in the cleaning staff team. Make them understand the value and the importance of sticking together and completing the job as a team. Make them realize how important their role in the team is. If you are able to do this successfully, then your workers will feel proud about doing a good work at the jobsites of your client.
Sometimes, you may have workers who will come up to you and tell you that they are well capable of cleaning an entire home or an office without help from anybody else. As heroic as their words may sound and as tempting as the offer seems (in terms of cutting down on workers’ wages), you should not be swayed by such proposals and instead stick to your philosophy of dividing the labour into important segments. That is the best way to get the most out of your employees. If you allow someone to handle all the tasks, they may do a fantastic job initially, but with time, they will eventually burn out and the quality of your cleaning service will drop significantly.
Keeping aside the disadvantages of division of labour, it is the perks that you need to be really concerned with. Division of labour not only increases the productivity of your cleaning staff, but it also reduces your cost in a number of different ways. For one, it involves less effort in the training classes and helps your workers to digest their work description more easily. You need to also bear in mind the fact that division of labour or specialization of a task can lead your worker into coming up with innovative ways of carrying out the task appointed to him. In other words, expertise through specialization leads to cost and time saving innovation.