School District Custodial Super-Vision

The Big Picture

Portolan Associates is the premier provider of consulting services in the K-12 custodial service industry.  We have worked with and assessed/improved the services for virtually every type of custodial service used in school district and collegiate operations.  We have no relationship with any company providing custodial services to any school, district or college.  We are completely un-biased in our assessments and recommendations for improvement.  Below are some tips for motivating custodial supervisors and to help them motivate and encourage their employees, helping them all see the big picture.

Custodial supervisors may be either site-based or cover clusters of schools.  Custodial Super-Vision is more than disciplining or training employees.  It involves the big picture . . . creating employees who are ready and willing to go the second mile for school, staff and students – creating a Super-Vision.

Many custodial supervisors have come up through the ranks within the same school district.  Having been a custodial supervisor in the Broward County schools and as a consultant working all over the country, I have witnessed this trend.  What many of the “home-grown” supervisors may not see is how much more there is to providing safe and secure schools than just cleaning an area better than the last person.  Having a Super-Vision is more than being recognized by peers and promoted by superiors.  What makes a difference is what they do with their job . . . not at their job. 

Here are some pointers for custodians and supervisors for forming a Super-Vision:

  • Do not be easily offended. Don’t take improvement suggestions personally
  • Take your performance personally
  • Seek new tasks
  • Do not avoid work
  • Seek training
  • Ask questions of others who have greater experience
  • Apply the skills you have learned and the experience you have gained to perform at a higher level
  • Teach others what you have learned
  • Help others when you can
  • Keep a positive attitude
  • Respect others at all times
  • Do not demand respect
  • Realize that respect must be earned every day

Following these tips will increase a supervisor or custodian’s credibility with peers and employees.  The thing to remember about credibility is its meaning.  Credibility is respect from others based on a person’s actions over an extended period.  Positive people gain positive respect.  The same goes for negativity.  It just makes sense to do the right thing all the time. 

Super-Vision - When we separate supervision into two words, we see its true meaning.  Then put them back together, and the concept acquires a greater meaning.  When we think of that word as Super-Vision, it shows us that supervision is bigger than who we supervise.  It is about “what, why and how.”  We need to have a super vision of what we are doing, why we are doing it and how to succeed at it.

True Super-Vision does not focus on disciplining and directing employees.  It is about making sure that the buildings and grounds that the students and staff learn and work in are clean, safe and secure . . . each and every day.  In order for that to happen, we need to motivate the employees who perform the daily tasks involved in that effort.  It is in the custodial supervisor’s best interest to help his/her employees to be successful at their job.  The more successful the employees are, the more successful the supervisor will be.

When we talk about motivating, we mean that all of the employees need to see the big picture.  This big picture is painted when a supervisor teaches all the department functions on a broad scale.  It is also important to show each employee how he or she is an important brush stroke in that painting.  Motivation also comes from showing them how a Super-Vision gives them a greater purpose for doing a good job.  It gives them a goal to work towards instead of a task to complete.  Their purpose is to help provide a clean and safe environment in which students learn.  If all they think about is trash, dust and dirt, they will soon be burned out.  They will not want to come to work.  However, if they look beyond the clean up, to see it as part of the Super-Vision, they will find a greater purpose for coming to work.  

Let’s face it.  Cleaning up behind students and staff is not exciting.  In fact, it can be monotonous and boring.  It is very important for a custodial supervisor to motivate the staff to come to work and do a good job.  Part of that motivation is including them in as many decisions related to their own work as possible.  Good supervisors seek input.  This helps employees believe they are a part of the big picture.  It helps the supervisor get their “buy in” regarding the goal of keeping the schools clean, safe and secure.  Their “buy in” means they want to help.  It will be easier to get things done when custodians try to do more rather than look for ways to do less.

The bottom line is, if as a supervisor, you want employees to do a better job, include them in yours.  Show them how they can help.  They will thank you as they grow and learn more about the big picture – the Super-Vision.  As they learn more and find motivation in striving to see the big picture, they receive promotions to higher positions. The more motivated and successful employees are, the more successful you will be as a custodial supervisor.  That can lead to promotions for you as well.  Go out there and show others your own . . . Super-Vision.

Portolan Associates, Inc is the nation’s premier provider of school district custodial operations consulting.  Please feel free to contact us at 1-706-569-9669