Who is on your frontline?

Have you ever considered that the people on the ‘frontline’ of your organisation; effectively your ‘first line of defence’ is likely to be your service staff and technicians?

Long after the ink has dried on a contract, and the executives have moved to the next conquest, a ‘band of brothers, and sisters’ are the ones on the frontline, charged with the responsibility to deliver all that has been promised.

Armed with an arsenal of products, that they have been assured will do the job, they are the ones engaged to do ‘battle’ with whatever a washroom or work environment has to throw at them. Although the service staff and technicians (generally known as cleaners) may have completed an accredited Cert III in Cleaning Operations, this is little more than ‘basic training’ for the formidable foes they find themselves up against.

A recent conversation with a person trained in the military was most insightful. To suggest those operating within the cleaning industry can be compared to full time servicemen and women may be a stretch, but the parallels are uncanny.

In Basic Training, or 1st Recruit Training as it is known in Australia, the following are key components of the first 80 days within the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

  • Observation
  • Identifying the enemy (the source of the problem)
  • Marksmanship (hitting the target)
  • Camouflage and concealment
  • Rural and Urban Warfare (adaptation to the environment)
  • Discipline and orders
  • Reporting
  • Strategy
  • First Aid

Remember, every frontline is, and needs to be supported by the other lines of defence. In the case of cleaning companies and facilities managers, there are supervisors and area managers to support the ‘members’ that are onsite daily. More particularly, is there a strategic plan in place for each situation that you may face? Moreover, are there practical approaches and proven solutions from the suppliers of the products that are in use?

Is your frontline fully equipped?

The book, (the) ‘Art of War’, attributed to Sun Tzu (5th Century BC), was used extensively through the 1990’s as a reference for business strategies and legal argument, and is equally relevant today. The work is summarised as follows:

The Art of War presents the basic principles of warfare and gives military leaders advice on when and how to fight. Its 13 chapters offer specific battle strategies–for example, one tells commanders how to move armies through inhospitable terrain, while another explains how to use and respond to different types of weapons – but they also give more general advice about conflicts and their resolution. Rules like “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight;” “He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces;” “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks;” “Victory usually goes to the army who has better trained officers and men;” and “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril” can be applied to particular battle situations as well as to other kinds of disagreements and challenges.  – History Channel, The Art of War (article)

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