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Finding the Middle Ground With Janitorial Industry Tech Advances

Posted by Chris Stathakis on Tue, Mar 07, 2017 @ 02:06 PM

janitorial industry technology

The janitorial business, like many other businesses, has become a hotbed of new technology. From people processes to floor cleaning equipment to janitorial inspections and more, it seems more and more of our business is becoming automated or at the very least, directed by the technologies we have come to depend upon. Technology in commercial cleaning has grown so quickly that we often forget where we started back in the mop and bucket days.

While there are always some downsides or adjustments to emerging technologies, innovation is so integral to both the growth and professionalism of our industry and managing costs and quality for our customers. Technology has driven efficiency, cost savings, even safety and enhanced compliance. While talk of robots may seem farfetched or the stuff movies are made of, technology will take us there eventually, perhaps much sooner than we think. Some of us are slow to change, often to the detriment of our businesses and our customers. While others of us reach and grab at every new shiny toy, which isn’t often the best long term strategy. So how do we find the middle ground when we live in a period with such dramatic, rapidly advancing technology?

First, we must focus on technology for solving problems rather than technology simply for technology’s sake. Floor care has, for example, made incredible leaps and bounds in terms of automation and required labor hours. This fine tunes the service and cuts long term costs. Small advances are continually reshaping an entire industry. Likewise, as some janitorial companies were struggling with issues of consistency and communication in their janitorial inspections, smartphone applications, like QualityChex were created to manage this problem by creating consistency through accountability and then communicating findings to everyone that needed the information. A great use of available technologies to create an easy process to manage a vital element of service.

Another issue? Janitorial budget cuts meant a great many of our facility managers just didn’t have the dollars they once did. They still needed solid maintenance so between Smart Cleaning processes like zone cleaning and janitorial equipment efficiencies, we were able to help them get closer to their hard numbers without their overall maintenance slipping beneath an acceptable level.

The reality is that even though technology is changing our industry so fast it can feel tough to keep up with, as an industry, we must realize the vast benefits technology has to offer. Those companies on the forefront of it will be best poised to over their customers convenience, efficiency, cost saving, value and results now and in the future.



Tags: Cleaning Industry Updates, Industry Best Practices

People Don’t Forget the Way You Make Them Feel

Posted by Chris Stathakis on Thu, Dec 15, 2016 @ 09:08 AM

leadership, leaders, image, attitudes

There’s a Maya Angelou quote that says something along the lines of, people will forget a lot, but they won’t forget the way you made them feel. There’s a great deal of truth in this idea, which is why it can be useful to consider how you, as a leader, make the people around you feel. Of course, I can almost hear you saying, I have so much on my plate already, I wear so many hats, put out daily fires AND now I have to add to that thinking about how my teams FEEL about me?


Here’s the thing, asleaders, we are like well-optimized engines. Many of us operate so effectively, so efficiently, and at such high speeds that there isn’t much we can do to adjust out output and performance other than making minor tweaks and adjustments to the way we do things. One way to impact what we get out of our teams is to consider how we interact with them as a whole and individually, and yes, how we make them feel.


Think about how the people you spend your workday make YOU feel. Maybe it’s your financial person who is on it, so precise, so anticipating of problems before they happen that you FEEL secure with them on the task. Maybe it’s a team member that is so naturally enthusiastic that every time you have a Big Idea, their enthusiasm is like fuel for your tank getting you revved up for the next set of concrete tasks that will get you and the team to a goal. Maybe it is an employee who has caused some internal conflicts before and now makes you FEEL like you must be more guarded.


Just like different people you work among can make you feel a certain way, you as a leader can leave people feeling something. Whether that something is good or bad isn’t just your responsibility either. For example, an employee who is being spoken to about not meeting their agreements isn’t going to be feeling too good about it, but that’s outside of your responsibility. But consider this, do you do things that positively impact how you leave people feeling? This is especially important with your core team. Do you listen to their suggestions? Do you give them credit for good ideas? Do you give them your time and attention? Do you return their calls or emails relatively promptly, especially if they need direction or approval before moving forward on their responsibilities? Do you stick to the facts and try to stay neutral when delivering criticism? Do you show appreciation when they go beyond your expectations or put in the extra effort?


Like any human person who doesn’t wear a cape, you are going to fall short, even more times than not. The reality is most of us have so much going on, have such a laser focus on the future and health of our companies that we can often miss what’s on the periphery. You need not completely change your leadership style or become the next ‘feel good’ business guru, however, you can occasionally slow down and tune in to how people might feel after your interactions and adjust your style even incrementally to get more of what you need from your people.

Stathakis Open Positions

Tags: Learn Everyday, Leadership

Ubuntu & Giving Thanks

Posted by Chris Stathakis on Tue, Nov 22, 2016 @ 01:54 PM


“You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality Ubuntu, or’ I am because we are’, you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world.” - Desmond Tutu


Ubuntu is an African tradition that tries to show us different ways to think about humanity and working together. It is our company philosophy here at Stathakis. Ubuntu, or “I am because we are,” tries to show us that as humans, we are much more alike than we are different. Ubuntu invites us to see that while we are individuals, we do not exist apart from each other.

It was a tough year for many of us--economic uncertainty, social issues, a contentious election season and of course, any number of personal problems we as people face on any given day. We all know of people who are suffering with the passing of a loved one, sick or infirm family and more. Thanksgiving might be tough for us, the idea of sitting among people, even loved ones with whom we disagree or have issues. Or the idea of trying to be grateful at a time when we are struggling in our own lives. But that is one of the things Thanksgiving is supposed to be about, seeing past our differences, seeing past our own hardships to come together and eat some food, have some laughs and even maybe watch some football. 

Ubuntu as a philosophy is a cornucopia of good ideas and ideals. Ubuntu urges us to work together to help everyone. Ubuntu presents us with the truism that there is enough for everyone and that by helping others, we help ourselves. The future is unknown and sometimes it can be a challenge to believe that there is enough for all of us, that things will get better or that we can find a middle ground with people who think differently than us. Ubuntu tells us we can.

This Thursday, many of you will join family and friends to break bread and give thanks. Thanksgiving is a uniquely American tradition meant to embody the ideas of gratitude in the face of hardship, different people coming together making connections and finding understanding. In Ubuntu there is a phrase, “sawa bona,” it means “I see you.” In spite of our differences, our troubles, our strife, Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to sit across from each other and say with our actions and words, “I see you.” And we give thanks, for whatever we can whether it’s our families, our children, our friends, our health or maybe even the promise of a good season for the Detroit Lions.

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you and your families and sawa bona.

Tags: Culture, Leadership

Do You Wear a Mask?

Posted by Chris Stathakis on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 @ 05:06 PM


Halloween is just around the corner and it has gotten me thinking about the masks we all wear, on both Halloween and every other day. Leaders might at times wear a mask more often because we have the added responsibility of others looking to us. Sometimes we wear a mask to hide what we see as our flaws and inadequacies. Sometimes we don a mask to create a persona of sorts. Like John the tough guy, Jane who always helps, Steve who works harder than anyone and Anne who has the big ideas. Masks can also offer a façade that depersonalizes the professional realm a bit, perhaps making it easier for us to make tough decisions on a business, rather than personal level.


Of course, there are times when each of us must throw on the mask. For example, a mask that gives us a feeling of toughness can help bolster our confidence to endure a challenging transition. Or a mask of heightened professionalism can make terminating an employee a little easier to get through on both sides. And a mask during difficult times when you feel you must insulate your team from some of the concerns behind the scenes can be a positive in helping your people stay focused on what is important. But experience tells us that some of the most effective leaders have learned how to chuck masks of all kinds and be their authentic selves on and off the job.


Being authentic doesn’t mean that you don’t have to keep in mind that you are at work. No one must share every thought, concern and emotion to be authentic. And yet, having foibles, flaws and even emotions aren’t liabilities with your people. In fact, the more your team sees you as a real person, the better they can connect with you. That connection can foster tremendous support and loyalty. Consider Superman for example, it is only when we learn of his weakness, Kryptonite, that he becomes most human. And allowing your team to see your mistakes or missteps can give them the room and confidence to take thoughtful risks, cultivating a culture of innovation and development.


Halloween will have come and gone in the next few days, so consider what masks you wear at different times. Which ones might be worth taking off to help you and those around you connect with your authentic self and be even more present and effective as a leader?

Stathakis Open Positions

Tags: Leadership

The Case For Civility At Work

Posted by Chris Stathakis on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 @ 11:22 AM

incivility at work, stathakis, leadership, janitorial jobs

Maybe it’s this unusual election season, maybe it’s the amount of time so many of us spend online, but it would appear that civility, or politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech, has changed. It would seem as if we are often more aggressive, more impatient, ruder, disrespectful in our interactions. As is usually the case, this incivility can at times bleed over into the work place.

While incivility can happen anywhere-- online, the dinner table, at a store--when it happens in the workplace, the consequences are high. From termination of an employee to higher employee turnover, greater stress at work, lowered productivity and creativity, to the creation of a toxic workplace, a lack of civility at work has tangible costs.

What can incivility at work look like? When we talk about incivility, we are creating a net around those behaviors that are not always obviously awful or constitute an instantly fireable offense. It can be things like hostility, a ‘bully boss,’ not listening, disruptions, disrespect, eye-rolling, dismissiveness, rudeness, insults and name calling, blame and it can come from any level of an organization. Now of course, we are humans with a range of emotions that are not in check 100% of the time. Who among us hasn’t cut someone off or handed out the criticism too harshly or blamed someone for an issue? An infrequent slip into incivility is manageable, a pattern of incivility is a whole other thing and must be addressed lest it become toxic.

There are things all of us can do to keep our negative emotions in check in the work place and contribute to an overall workplace culture of respectfulness, inclusion and civility. First, check in with yourself and honestly try to assess how you communicate verbally, written and in your body language. Email has become a great way to communicate but it can be challenging to read nuance, sarcasm and tone via text. And negative body language is as easy to read as a nasty email so keep it in check. Second, know your hot buttons. When you understand what most easily sparks anger or defensiveness in yourself, it can help you take control of it rather than it take control of you. Third, especially when you are feeling triggered, angry, irritable, stressed or all of the above, take a breath and a moment to think about how you speak or act. In fact, I find it can be helpful in larger conflicts to actually ask for time to collect yourself, check emotions and get some perspective. It can be as easy as, “Alex, it looks like we are both pretty fired up about this and I don’t want to say something in the heat of the moment. I would like to put this discussion off to another time after I have had time to think about this from all sides.” Fourth, when there is conflict, work toward solutions over blame, rely on facts over assumptions and take responsibility for your actions. 

Whether you are a worker, supervisor, manager or the CEO, you can model civility and respect to create an inclusive, positive discourse and work place culture.

Tags: Leadership


Posted by Chris Stathakis on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 @ 10:05 PM


The adage is almost always true, if there is any constant, it is change. As leaders, we must be ready at any time to shift gears in response to things outside of ourselves—market forces, competition, the labor pool and more. But what do we do when something within ourselves must be changed? There isn’t a single person who doesn’t have something they would like to change about themselves no matter how adept, influential or experienced they are. Yet as a leader, we are so often our only source of true accountability. Though we coach and manage others, who else is there to coach and manage us? So often, it must come from within, yet change can be so difficult on one’s own. If you are seeking to change something or adopt a new behavior or action, how can you stack the deck in your favor and make it more likely that you will succeed in making changes that become positive lasting habits?


Let’s look at an example. Say for instance that although you are a skilled leader and coach, you struggle to arrive at work at the time you planned. Maybe that’s earlier than others, maybe it’s on time, maybe it doesn’t even matter but whatever time you set, you seem to chronically miss. In order to meet your goal of arriving at work at the time you planned you need to first identify the specific behavior/action you are intending, in this case, arriving at your planned time. Second, you must break this behavior into smaller “units.” So for instance, that might look like putting out your clothes the night before, waking up as planned or a few minutes earlier, showering, dressing, breakfast, the commute in and parking. Third, after identifying the smaller “units” of your intended behavioral change, you must make a plan to tackle them individually if necessary in order to accomplish the overarching goal. Fourth, you must identify the obstacles that are likely to get in the way of achieving your goal. Maybe your closet is a mess making you resistant to putting out your clothes the evening before. Maybe you get distracted because your kids don’t have their own things ready for the day and you are using time you haven’t allotted helping them get out the door. Perhaps you need to prepare a quick breakfast that you can grab and go each morning ahead of time. Finally, you must build in some rewards and incentives for meeting both the smaller “units” and the overall behavior. These reinforce your efforts and make it more likely you’ll make cement these changes.


So let’s say your goal is to take better care of your physical health. You break the main goal into smaller “units” like eating better, going to the gym and making and keeping recommended preventive care for medical, dental and vision health. There are likely obstacles to each of these and even sub obstacles. Take working out, you’ll need to identify the best time for you to go, have your things ready to grab with, for instance, an extra set of gym clothes stowed in your trunk for when you forget. You might need to make sure your phone is charged and that you have headphones with you. And you’ll need to allot some short term and long term goals like a massage, some new music or athletic clothing to stay motivated as the changes become habits.


Even if you surround yourself with good advisors the reality is that leaders must be both self-motivated and self directed. And nowhere is this more challenging than changing entrenched behaviors within ourselves. By understanding the best strategies for effective behavioral changes, you can stack the deck in your favor and set yourself up for success.

Tags: Leadership

Leading Through Uncertainty

Posted by Chris Stathakis on Fri, Mar 11, 2016 @ 09:04 AM

leadership, chris stathakis, michigan building maintenance companies. commercial cleaning detroit

“Leaders instill courage in the hearts of those who follow.
Somebody has to go first.” ---Andy Stanley


Our world seems to change at lightening speed. Of course, technology drives much of this but it can seem that as soon as we get comfortable with one way of doing things, someone or something comes along and changes it forcing us to begin again. Of course, you could fight the change and dig in doing things the way you always have but it seems that those organizations that seem to fare the best in today’s environment are those helmed by leaders that can forge ahead even in uncertainty. Today more than ever, once you find success, you cannot be content to rest and get too comfortable, becoming a prisoner of the past. Rather, you must be willing to be open, adaptable, dynamic and agile.


But what must a leader possess to be able to be the person that “goes first” and lights a candle in the dark for all who follow? We have learned that in leadership, learning itself is a critical component of both survival and success. Transformation and growth aren’t one-shot deals, they’re a mindset and one that you must keep strong and flexible even as you find success. Certainly you can manage uncertainty and change with good information and strategizing, yet you cannot remove uncertainty all together.


Do you have the adaptability to respond to the uncertainties your organization is facing? Could you be more adaptable, more agile, more dynamic or more open? Do you learn everyday? Of course as a leader, you must balance that adaptability without becoming overly reactive, like a driver overcorrecting on a slippery road. And yet, balance what you know about what mad you and your organization successful with a willingness to adapt to the way our lives change everyday and you will likely instill courage in the hearts of those who follow you.

Tags: Leadership

The End of Year Postmortem

Posted by Chris Stathakis on Fri, Jan 01, 2016 @ 06:39 AM


As 2015 comes to an end, so many of us yearn to look forward and start a new clean page in 2016. A new year holds so much promise and opportunity to tackle our goals and push ahead in our organizations. And yet, in order to move forward and start the New Year strong, we must review the year behind us in order.


Postmortem means ‘after death’ and as 2015 is laid to rest, the best leaders spend some time reflecting on how the year went. It’s a way to slow down, savor your best moments, and reflect on your major wins. It’s an opportunity to draw some conclusions about those things that worked and those that didn’t.


What issues were finally resolved? What organizational or personal obstacles were uncovered? What challenges did we meet head on and what challenges will roll into the New Year for us to revisit? And if you are setting some goals for the year ahead, looking back at the year past can help assure that your goals are truly in line with your priorities and values.


The post mortem is deeply personal because our lives and organizations are as individual as we are. Each question and reflection will depend on where you and your organization are today. So I encourage all leaders to spend at least a few moments reflecting on the year behind us before you jump into the year ahead.


Although your review in unique to you, here are ten questions to get you thinking: 

  1. What single achievement are you most proud of?
  2. Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
  3. What new habits did you cultivate?
  4. Which new skill or skill did you learn that most benefited your organization?
  5. Who, beside yourself, on your team was fundamental to the biggest positive changes in your organization?
  6. What was the biggest obstacle you overcame this year?
  7. How did your relationship with your team evolve?
  8. Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
  9. What one thing would you do differently and why?
  10. What experience would you love to do all over again?

Career Opportunities

Tags: Leadership

Making Friends With Disappointment

Posted by Chris Stathakis on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 @ 07:42 AM

leadership, michigan business leaders and visionary, disappointment, failure, perseversence 

While no one likes to fail or the inevitable feelings of disappoint that follow failure, any successful leader must make friends with disappointment. While many people think of leaders and successful business people as immune from failures and disappointment, it is exactly these people who must often become well-acquainted with the perils of trying and failing. After all, anyone who has gone out on a limb has occasionally fallen from the branch.


“Anyone who has gone out on a limb has occasionally fallen from the branch.”


What does this mean? Well, leaders aim high and the higher you aim, the more disappointing it is when you fall short. And the more attempts you make at greatness, the more often you will stumble and must shake it off and go back to the drawing board. Most successful people didn’t get that way because they had ONE good idea. They succeeded because they had hundreds of ideas that didn’t work and yet they kept at it.


“Successful people don’t get that way because they have ONE good idea. They succeeded because they had hundreds of ideas that DIDN’T work and yet they kept at it.”


In fact, the people who sit around trying so very hard to make something mistake-proof and perfect are the very ones who NEVER get started. Sure they are immune to failure, but in playing it safe they are also cut off from the big wins that come with putting yourself out there and risking failure. And they still have to contend with the disappointment over what they didn’t go after.

So make friends with disappointment, get comfortable with failure in so much as you don’t let it keep you from going ‘all in.’



Tags: Leadership

An Attitude of Gratitude

Posted by Chris Stathakis on Fri, Nov 13, 2015 @ 01:26 PM

 stathakis, chris stathakis, commercial cleaning detroit, janitorial services ann arbor

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, like many people, this time of year I think about gratitude and the things I am thankful for. In our culture it can be so easy to focus on what we do not have because things are limitless. No matter how good your computer, car or television is, a better one will come out within a few months. No matter how much money you have, some things or experiences will be out of reach. So if we focus on what we don’t have, we will always be unhappy and looking for the next thing to fulfill us.


Whether it is with my children, my family and my friends and even myself, I try to put the focus on what we DO have, which is really so much. Especially if you compare it to what many of the people around the world struggle to get. Don’t get me wrong, gratitude and happiness is relative and yet, how much happier would we all be if we were grateful about the many advantages we do have? I am grateful for clean drinking water, a roof over my head and a place to call home. I am grateful for my health and that of my family and for food on the table. I am grateful to live in a country that offers many opportunities to be your best and make a living. I am grateful for education for family and myself. I am grateful to the many team members here at Stathakis that help to grow our company and make it a fun and challenging place to come each day.


As Thanksgiving nears, what are you grateful for? What things are you so used to that you forget how challenging life would be without them? You as a leader can set a powerful example of practicing gratitude, through your own gratefulness and an attitude of gratitude with your people. And what ways can you as a leader get your you, your family and your employees to focus on the many wonderful things that add ease and brightness to each day?

Stathakis Open Positions

Tags: Leadership

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