ICS Magazine

The Power of Participation

December 14, 2011

At the Connections Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas this year, a colleague presented me with a book to thank me for helping him with an event earlier in the year. The book was an easy read and was based on influential words provided by successful businesspeople.

When he presented the book to me he said, “Tell me in a word what it takes to be successful.” Although I look at myself as more of a survivalist, I pondered the question and, after a quick trip down memory lane, answered, “Participation.”

To participate is to engage in an activity to achieve a specific result. In order to drive a car, for example, one must participate in starting, shifting, observing, reacting, steering and stopping. When you participate in all of these things and more, you are driving. The motive for this participation may be to get from one point to another, but driving itself requires participation.

There are many motives for the professional to participate in floor maintenance. The technician’s motive may be simply to get paid; the supervisor’s, to increase efficiency and proficiency; the manager’s to ensure promises are kept within the constraints of the budget and the owner’s to engage in profit and/or loss. Of course these are simplified to a fault, but I want you to understand the basis or motivation of anything is what leads to participation.

A professional technician is precariously balanced on a three-legged stool, with one leg being chemicals, one leg equipment, and the third leg the skill level of the technician. Remove any one of the legs and the stool becomes unstable and the technician comes tumbling down.

The participation of the professional technician is to understand each leg of the stool and how it applies to the other two. Identification of the flooring material and comprehending the properties and characteristics of them begins the process. Recognizing what chemicals will hurt the material and what will help it is a byproduct of participation in identification. By extension, equipment, tools and materials can be selected by understanding the size and scope of the area and the services being provided.

Supervisory participation comes in the form of quality control and quality assurance. Ensuring the task or service procedures have been done in accordance with standards or best practices of the industry as well as achieving efficient productivity rates. Supervisors are also participating in some report writing. Nightly supervisor reports and some minor policing actions to ensure the technicians are doing what they are supposed to be doing.

Managerial participation engages the tactical and sometimes strategic planning of the operation to ensure that services are delivered in accordance with what was sold and within the budget allotted. Floor maintenance managers are usually the conduit between the building service contractor and the building or property manager that is in charge of the facility. Both entities participate in developing a program that will best suit the customer’s floor maintenance needs and the budget constraints of the company.

The owner participates on all levels of running the business, and is tasked with the long-term planning of the company. In order to make important decisions regarding direction of the company, the owner must engage in the industry of which they are involved. This is the highest level of participation, as he or she must know everything about their industry in order to be successful.

Of course, these are very basic areas of participation, and floor maintenance professionals should look beyond just what they do for remuneration. Our industry, like all industries, is not static, it is dynamic and changing daily. Everyone involved in floor maintenance should be actively involved in staying on top of the most contemporary chemicals, equipment, tools and materials, as well as methods for performing floor maintenance. Above all else, the professional floor maintenance technician regardless of what position they possess should actively participate in ongoing education and training within their chosen field. Keeping current is not difficult in this day and age of instantaneous communication; the internet and other information sources make it much easier than it has been in the past. Participation will most certainly lead to certification and qualification of the floor maintenance professional, and this will ultimately lead to more respect and higher wages.

  Ultimately, participation is the only thing that will make you successful at your given craft. You can’t learn it without participating in education, you can’t perform it without participating in training, and you can’t sell it, administer it, or manage it without participating in the individual activities associated with each area. You can’t even get to the account without participating in driving. Although participation is only a word without participation, neither success nor anything else can be achieved.

The moral of the story? However you do it, find the motivation for participation.