What it Means to be a Cleaning Supervisor


In the first in a series of articles on the importance of cleaning supervisors, Tommy Taylor, Director at T. Taylor Solutions and an accredited ISSA CIMS and ISSA CIE facilitator, defines the role of a supervisor.


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Facilities Management
May 23, 2021
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What it Means to be a Cleaning Supervisor

You are now a supervisor. With the role comes an array of potential and actual problems. You may have been promoted or successfully awarded the role after the interview. Nevertheless, the one thing that you must consider is how you are going to do the job and keep different personalities happy and engaged.

For those of you who have been promoted, it can be a trying time for you in the early days. You can be faced with resistance from colleagues with whom you once shared a cup of tea. You could be supervising family and long-standing friends, or you could be supervising individuals that you never really got on with. All these hurdles must be climbed and got over in a short space of time. Long drawn out and uncomfortable situations will hamper your ability to do a decent job and, in some extreme cases, your health and relationships.

You will need to make your mark from day one, but at the same time maintain and build on the trust and confidence of the colleagues that you do get on with and work even harder to win over the ones with whom you have had troubled times in the past. Establish with your line manager at the earliest stage what it is they want from you and the type of support you can expect from them. The one thing you do not want is to find yourself isolated at the first sign of trouble.

What is expected of you?

At the end of the day, you need to be your person, an individual in a minefield who will

need extra help from time to time, but someone who will have to tackle all the explosions on their own. This role will be a lonely one at times. It looked simple enough when you were on the other side watching your line manager making all the decisions. You will now become the boss who hangs around looking like they are doing very little.

Can you remember the days when you used to say that they “really had it made” or “look at us - we do all the work, and they take all the glory.” Give yourself a few weeks or months and reflect on those days after having an opportunity to get on with the job in hand. Ask yourself what has changed from day one, not only the job, but also you? Have you got tougher? Have you managed to retain a good working relationship with those who were your workmates while performing a new role? Have you managed to build some bridges with other colleagues? Your work colleagues will continue to gripe about the organisation, take breaks and lunch together. The main difference is that it may be without you as you have now ‘gone over to the other side’.

Being one of the staff is fine, but only if it means that even though you are the supervisor, you are still a nice person and a friend. However, you cannot give up your role as a supervisor and its responsibilities just so you can say you are one of the boys/girls.

The purpose of your job is different

The truth is you are now in a different gang. You will have to give up some of the pleasure of being in the old gang and accept that you are now in a new gang. As the boss (loosely speaking), you are now in a gang made up of other bosses. You do not have to associate with them, but you will have to communicate with them on their level, a level from which you are now apart. And as you sit back and think about where you are, you must remember that you are still part of a team and at the same time you must understand that you must stick together and perform as a single unit and meet the organisation’s goals and objectives. However, even though you are working as one, you must still lead the team from the front. You must set the example. You must give your team the authority to be able to do their job with minimal interference. You must build on their potential, guide them when needed, and discipline them when appropriate. The last thing you should do is micromanage them.

Nevertheless, most of all you should do these things as you are their boss and not just one of the gangs anymore. Moving to the role of a supervisor has its hazards. It will give you more power than you have ever had before. You will hold the deck of cards and at the same time, you must decide on how many cards to give each player to get the job done.  Your attitude must change. You now say, “Do this because I am the boss,” and in most cases, it will get done.

We did not like it when the previous supervisor told us what to do. We hated it when circumstances were reversed. Being a supervisor is not complicated if given the correct tools to do the job. We are not trained in people skills and therefore we must find ways of getting work done through others. We tend to look at how other supervisors do things, take the best from them, and implement them where we can. Other elements are just things that you must learn on the job or by using that precious attribute called common sense.

As indicated before being a supervisor will change you and the situations you will find yourself in. It changes your outlook and presents you with unfamiliar problems and challenges. It changes your perspective and gives you a bigger picture to look at. It should not take the human element out of doing the job; it just puts in other elements. It gives you more factors to consider when deciding. What it will do is give you, the supervisor, the right and opportunity to make decisions that were not yours to make previously.

Therefore, to conclude this section you need to remember that you are in a new role now. It is a lot different from the one you have been doing. Coming from within the organisation will cause one set of problems, and from coming from the outside in will cause another. In either case, things will be different from before. The purpose of your job is different. Viewpoints are different and whether you like it or not you are going to be part of a different group. Your work now is to get things done through others and not just do them yourself. Instead of griping about the boss and company policies, others are now griping about you and you must implement those same policies.

About the Author:

Tommy Taylor is the Director at T. Taylor Solutions and an accredited ISSA CIMS and ISSA CIE facilitator. Tommy has had extensive experience training cleaning and FM companies in the Middle East and continues to raise standards in cleaning through his own company in the UK, T. Taylor Solutions.


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