Joanne Sommer has just been hired as the Ascot Hotel’s executive housekeeper. The hotel’s general manager, Jack Robbins, told Joanne he wants to maintain and improve the team cleaning system he had the previous executive housekeeper implement three months earlier for all housekeeping employees.
Mr. Robbins hadn’t used team cleaning in the past and, as a “big picture” person who focuses on results, he shows little interest in the details of implementation. He was attracted to team cleaning by a management article that claimed team cleaning would cut costs, reduce turnover, improve attendance, and clean rooms faster. These are the results he wants.
Unfortunately, the initial implementation had not gone smoothly. The previous executive housekeeper switched the entire department over to teams at the same time, and immediately found herself with a scheduling nightmare. The goal of assembly-line efficiency was impossible to achieve because support systems were not effective. For example, when the laundry allowed torn or stained linens to be stocked on carts, team members often did not discover the problem until they put the sheets on a bed. Valuable time was lost as replacement linens were fetched, especially when the runners replenished carts were also behind schedule, which seemed to happen frequently. Before, this situation would have put one employee behind schedule. Now, it puts 2 people behind schedule, costing the hotel more time and labor.
Teams find that they run out of supplies more quickly now and have to take extra trips to the housekeeping storage area to restock. Teams also lose time when they have to wait for a room to be vacated by a guest. While this was always an issue, now it holds up 2 people instead of 1.
To make matters worse, some of the teams initially assigned are now experiencing personality conflicts. Several employees enjoyed working alone and resent being paired with other people. As a result of these and other problems, most housekeeping employees dislike the new system.
Joanne believes that the team cleaning concept would work at the Hotel if properly implemented. She recognizes that it was not properly implemented at the outset, and that mistakes have increased employee resistance and made successful implementation even more difficult.
1. What are some signs that, initially, the team cleaning system was implemented poorly?
2. What could Joanne do to gain employee buy-in and support? How might she be able to make working on teams attractive to housekeeping employees?
3. What issues must Joanne clarify with Mr. Robbins if team cleaning is to succeed at the Ascot Hotel? What kind of detail information would encourage Mr. Robbins to maintain a commitment to team cleaning?