- October 27, 2021
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, Management
Years ago, when I was at Robroy, I made it a condition that everyone had a turn cleaning the toilets. And that went for the executives, too; I even took a turn.
So someone asked me, how do you get executives to clean toilets?
Short answer? It’s a condition of employment. If you don’t do it, you aren’t a part of the organization. Other conditions of employment are working 40 hours a week and completing your job responsibilities. So we made it a condition of employment that everyone had a turn.
Because if you expect someone else to do it for you, you should hold yourself accountable to do it for them. That means that if you’re going to make someone clean the toilet, don’t leave an extra mess or pee all over the floor because someone else is going to clean it up. After all, you don’t want people leaving an extra mess for you when it’s your turn.
Why else would you pay someone the least amount possible to clean up the stuff we don’t want? If you’re going to be that cheap, you certainly shouldn’t make a mess and expect them to clean it. And even if you paid them the most, why would you pee on the toilet seat and make them clean it up?
Assuming you have the right to make a mess and someone else has the responsibility to clean up after you? That’s stupid.
So having executives, supervisors, and office staff take a rotation day to clean the washrooms is to help them understand that it’s their job to keep it clean, not the janitor’s job. Even if we had a janitor or maintenance staff, it was still their responsibility to help keep it clean. Like wiping down the sink with the paper towels and making sure they got tossed into the trash can.
Now, we did have a janitor who cleaned up the bathrooms around the plant, but it was a very easy job because I got fed up with the mess everyone was making and then leaving for this person to clean up. It’s like they felt free to exercise the privilege to mess things up, but shirked their responsibility to keep things clean.
So I said that everyone in the organization will rotate through bathroom and break room duties for a day to keep them clean. The purpose was to train people that your paper towels and not thrown into the toilet or the corner.
I wanted everyone to know that when you have to clean up after other people and you’re disgusted by their mess, that there are people who are disgusted by your mess. I wanted them to know that when you go into a break room or bathroom, and you see someone not cleaning up after themselves, you feel you have the right to tell them, “Hey, clean up after yourself.” It doesn’t matter what your position in the company is, if you have to clean up after messy people, you’re quickly going to tell those messy people exactly what they can do with their own mess.
The rotation depended on our headcount, and we made sure that everyone had a chance to do it. And any manager who refused was no longer a member of the team. Even I did it, and I hated it. But I also knew that there were other people who probably hated cleaning up after me, so I made sure I left the bathroom cleaner than I left it.
My practice also followed the same principle that my friend Spanky Gibson talked about when he said that, in the Marines, “leaders eat last.” Leaders should be responsible to clean up the mess everyone else leaves, since there are people who will clean up their messes.
After I implemented the policy, I noticed a major improvement in the cleanliness of the bathrooms around the plant.
And the one consistent comment we got from any visitor to the facility was about our hygiene. That was especially interesting because most people don’t even think about it. So it had to be clean for it to be noticeable.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business, including pivoting within their industry. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Jarmoluk (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)