Did You Hire an Employee or a Window Cleaner?

Article #1: Did You Hire an Employee or a Window Cleaner?

All owners of window cleaning companies have been there. You are doing a final walk-through of a job and you start noticing "mistakes". One screen wasn’t re-installed correctly, several sills were not wiped properly, and some of the windows were missed in the corners due to lazy fanning. You feel the veins in your temple start to throb…

To be fair, any of us can have an off-day where we have things on our mind that cause us to become distracted and miss things. However, if you are noticing these little details missed on a regular basis, it could be because you have an employee working for you, and not a window cleaner.

Let me explain: Over the years of hiring, I have discovered two distinct designations in paid workers: The Employee and The Window Cleaner. I use this language throughout the work day, so much so that my techs get tired of hearing about it. Here’s why you, as a business owner, need to understand the difference.

The Employee has no investment in the company or work. It is just another job, one they will leave at a moment’s notice if a better “opportunity” (i.e. to make $.30 more an hour) comes along. They will do the minimum work necessary to count as “working”. They lack a desire to problem solve, and if they run into any situation that might challenge their skills, they will defer to you or someone else on the crew without even making an effort. They complain and/or pout about labor intensive and detail-oriented tasks. They are clock watchers and will work on a task just long enough to feel they have “earned” their pay. Then, they will move on to the next task whether the previous one was completed or not. The Employee needs to be told exactly what to do, and once their assigned task is done, they will stand around or return to the truck unless you give them another task.

In contrast, the Window Cleaner cares about his craft, his reputation, and the customer’s satisfaction. They feel like they are part of a team and consider their work to be complete only when the condition of the windows meets the standards of the company. They are excellent problem solvers and want to learn new methods to handle challenging windows. They focus on the job at hand and avoid getting distracted by trying to guess how much time is left until the job is completed. They recognize that their effort is only as good as the results it produces. The Window Cleaner does not need their “hand” to be “held” constantly and will anticipate and act on behalf of the needs of the crew after their assigned work is completed.

The contrast between the two can be startling. You must constantly check on the quality of work done by an Employee, while you are comfortable sending a Window Cleaner to complete jobs on their own. The Employee constantly asks-“when is my next raise”, yet you give raises to Window Cleaners before they even think to ask. We can go on and on about the differences between the two. The math is simple: Employee = not professional; Window Cleaner = Professional.  You are probably thinking about your workers right now, and mentally sorting them into one category or the other. You most likely have people who can fall into either category depending on the day and circumstances. Heck, YOU might fall into either category depending on the day and circumstances!

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