In our last article we talked about how benchmarking against other internal organizations is an affordable and easy way to begin improving your in-house custodial operations. But this approach has its limitations. Think about the contradiction: you’re trying to be innovative inside a closed system. You’re literally “thinking inside the box.” This is simply the nature of what happens inside a corporate culture. Without some outside perspective, innovation can be difficult. This is as true in a janitorial organization as it is in any other corporate culture. What are some of the specific challenges you’ll face when attempting to improve your in-house custodial operations by benchmarking against other departments?
For starters, you’re dealing with a lot of the same leadership. As an in-house organization, you’ll be looking to those leaders to support your innovations and give you the tools you need to succeed. Other department will be either empowered or restricted by those same leaders (and those leader’s policies), and therefore will face a similar set of challenges.
Additionally, there is shared history inside of an organization’s culture. Over time, policies become outdated or ineffective, but remain in place for one reason or another. You want to improve your in-house custodial organization’s performance and efficiency. But you have a history of how you do things – your methods, policies, and procedures – that follows you wherever you ago. And many of those methods and policies were shaped and crafted by the greater culture of the institution within which you operate. You could try to look to other departments for insights, but they, too, have methods and procedures that were adopted long ago and kept untouched for years. “Why do we do things this way,” you might ask. And the response usually goes something like, “Because that’s how we’ve always done it.” It will be difficult to find help here.
The drawbacks of benchmarking between internal departments will naturally lead you toward external benchmarking. Stay tuned for Part 4, where we’ll talk about how you can begin to benchmark against peer colleges or universities.