Creating a Strong Housekeeping Team

It is quite a while since I wrote last. Yes, I have been quite busy finalizing the company web site and fine-tuning I have been putting in more hours in the office too. Yet I know,  if I wanted, I could have found the time. Apart from the sense of liberation I get as I write, I also discover new dimensions and approaches to questions of life. I learn a lot about myself as I write and I have internalized several of them in the recent past.

Ever since I had the meeting with the entire housekeeping team on Monday, August 19, I told myself several times I should write about the experience. It was the first time we ensured the hearing and speech impaired staff understood everything that was being discussed. Though the usual procedure used to be to explain things to them separately, after the meeting ended, I insisted that it was better that we learned to make them feel wanted and counted – even if we lost some time in the bargain.

It is not always very easy to understand the needs of differently abled people. They are very sensitive and prone to flare up. Their needs are different, so are their abilities. If we manage to find out their strengths and take steps to develop them further, we will be helping them in their journey to actualize their potential.

Having hearing and speech impaired helps Service Square a lot. Once they understand the work, they are very diligent and sincere. We also get some mileage – as we espouse an important social cause.

Yet, recruiting them and giving them a good pay are not enough, in the sense that we appear to promote a social cause, while the actual fact may be, we are making a virtue out of necessity. We let the arc lights fall on us for our supposedly altruistic intentions. We will be serving a social cause only if we are also capable of showing them a path towards a better future.

We need to devise ways of enriching them with new skills and knowledge. Perhaps we can teach them how to use computers. The most important thing is to give them positions of importance within the housekeeping teams. It is not easy to convince people – especially the able bodied – that physical disability need not be a deterrent in moving up the ladder or to hold positions, even over able bodied persons. This culture shift has to come about in Service Square.

We also have to give the housekeeping teams a sense of dignity in the work they do. Most of them do not like going for toilet cleaning jobs as they think it is demeaning. We have to get such thoughts out of their minds and systems. One way will be to make them think well of themselves by insisting that they dress well to work. Then, we have to invest time with them to convince them about the dignity of their work.

I do not think there is any housekeeping company in Chennai paying their staff the salaries that we pay. Even a new staff gets around Rs.9000. Yet, good pay is not everything. Things of greater essence such as self-esteem and pride will keep them chirpy and motivated.

The initial enthusiasm levels as they learned English from me, petered out after sometime, though they were learning well. Maybe they need is not English, but something else to keep them glued to the future of their dreams. Perhaps we need to have trainers from outside to instill in them that purpose and zest for life.

It all comes to helping them find hope that their hard work will give them the reward of better lives for them and their families in the not too distant Future.  Hope is absolutely necessary to hinge their efforts on. I remember Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, ‘Work Without Hope’ I studied in college, and here are the last two lines, courtesy google:

Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live.
For employees to work well with purpose and zeal, they need to know and believe in the rainbows of great possibilities, tomorrow.

There is a very urgent reminder for Service Square too – that if everyone works with hope and belief, the future for the company is here and now. Those who run businesses have the responsibility to create that atmosphere of  imminent success.

Business is a lot about transference of emotions. And the better we create those strong feelings of beliefs and faith, the greater are the possibilities of Service Square and the employees waking up to whir the giants selves within, into focused and energetic action .

It all begins at the top. Be the change you want to see – as Gandhi said.

Currently, the universe seems to be conspiring to make our dreams come true. Customers love our work and without much effort, we keep getting their support. Now is the time to flow downstream and paddle with our limbs to move faster with the changing tides of fortune, with gratitude in our hearts.

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