The main functions of an organisation’s management are: planning, organising, leading and controlling. In SOL Cleaning Services, much of the management’s responsibilities and authority have been decentralised to a team of 135 supervisors.
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Each supervisor is in charge of a team of about fifty janitors, and act together to come up with their own budgets, negotiate their own contracts with clients, and hire new staff. Much of the planning function is left unto the self-managed teams. Liisa Joronen, the chairman cum owner, says, “People are ambitious and unrealistic. They set targets for themselves that are higher than what you would set for them. And because they set them, they hit them.”
The management recognises that people are creative, mindful and emotional and should be given freedom to use their brains alongside their hands. Thus, the management gives the employees full responsibility and independence in their work and each individual plans and manages their own tasks. However, the management prepares the overall company budget, which contains training programs, forthcoming occasions and organisational info, and evaluation reports that are stored in the firm’s Intranet.
SOL’s management philosophy emphasises “employee freedom, responsibility, trust, creativity and goals, as well as pleasant and professional working methods and work results.” In addition to employees, each studio provides for its own equipments, tools and replenishments.
However, although the employees get a chance to do what they like, the management is actively involved in vital tasks, such as managerial decision making, allocating responsibilities and resources to the various studios. The overall company uses a unified complex sales database, on its Intranet, to track its current clients and its “most targeted accounts, when they were last contacted, by whom, and what pledges were made.”
The controlling function involves monitoring employees’ activities, keeping the firm on track towards its objectives, and taking action where necessary. In SOL, the 135 Service Supervisors perform much of the controlling function. They use advanced technologies, such as laptops and mobile phones, to function wherever they are and however they want. And to ensure that SOL’s customers and assets are protected, its employees are fully registered and adequately covered by a comprehensive insurance policy.
Although the employees work in autonomy, the management employs metrics to measure their performance. There are performance benchmarks that are established by the sales personnel and the cleaners assigned to a certain task, which the client uses to rate the cleaner’s work on a monthly basis. Even the janitors carry “quality passports” that show recommendations by clients.
The management is involved in influencing employees to inspire them to achieve the firm’s objectives. In SOL, the managers are appraised on the quality of their work rather than having superior offices or secretaries, their status symbols are not recognised thus lead as an example to the employees. It is unimaginable that Joronen, despite being an heir to one of the richest families in Finland, commutes to office on her bike.
The management recognises that most people do not admire janitors, or think of becoming one, but SOL’s management really motivates its employees rather than enforce rules to be adhered to and try to make the workplace more fun and satisfying career wise. Joronen says, “Life is hard, work is hard, but in a service business, if you’re not happy with yourself, how can you make the customer happy?”
In evaluating SOL as a ‘new workplace’ or ‘old workplace,’ first let us distinguish the two categorisations. In an ‘old workplace’ employees tend to be dependable of their superiors for orders or to be assigned tasks, it adopts mechanical technology, resources are physical, work is structured or localised, it relies on domestic markets for its products and services, it has a homogenous workforce, the leadership is autocratic, conflicting environment, designed for efficient performance, and its events are calm and predictable.
Contrary, the ‘new workplace’ is characterised by digital technology or e-commerce, resources are more of information, the employees are empowered free from agency and perform independently, work is flexible and virtual, it relies on global markets, it has a diverse workforce, its leadership is dispersed, it focuses at creating a workable relationship, it is a learning organisation and its events are turbulent.
From the distinction of old and new workplace, it is evident that SOL’s workplace is indeed a “new workplace.” Its features include: The employees get to choose their working time and their best place of work, since they are appraised by their output. The management is dispersed with each studio controlling its resources and it does not necessarily function from their offices, thus no status quos or autocratic kind of leadership.
The company highly embraces technologies, such as wireless phones and telecommunication networks which enable its kind of workplace to be flexible in operation and it can also conduct e-business easily targeting global markets. SOL’s president questions “Why does an office have to look like an office? Why does a low level employee try not to use his mind, and why does a high level employee try not to use his muscles?”
Any organisation management’s main aim is to attain optimum performance, that is, to achieve the organisational objectives by utilising the resources with efficiency and effectiveness. The organisation’s effectiveness describes the quality of the finished product that is measured by the degree to which the firm attains a defined goal. The organisation’s effectiveness can be measured using various criteria from financial indicators to non-financial indicators.
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SOL’s competitive edge is the ability to plan and implement tailor-made services and managing its workforce. This has seen it succeed to be the best service provider with a high client satisfaction rank, good engagements, highly satisfied employees and goodwill as an employer and also as a service provider. SOL aims at continuously reinventing its operations so as to remain relevant in business. The company allows its clients to concentrate on their core objectives by providing for them a service experience.
Organisation efficiency involves minimal utilisation of resources, that is, raw materials, capital and human resources, to achieve the expected output. “It is an issue of having the right personnel, undertaking the right work, in the best possible performance environment.
The aim is minimum duplicity, high innovation, and well managed risk.” SOL recognises the environmental impacts of its activities and its responsibility towards that, and thus runs in an eco-friendly manner to reduce environmental degradation and conserve the natural resources by using the most eco-friendly technologies.
Its employees are well trained and equipped to undertaking their work professionally. In addition, the company heavily relies on technology to run its operations, and is able to do what the company could not do years back, as Joronen recalls.
Callender, G, Efficiency and Management, illustrated Ed. Taylor & Francis, Washington, 2008.
Kerzner, H, Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling. Edition 10. John Wiley and Sons, New York, 2009.
Pride, W, Hughes, R & Kapoor, J, Business, 10. Cengage Learning, Boston, MA, 2009.
Samson, D & Daft, R, Management, Third Asia Pacific Edition. Cengage Learning Australia, South Melbourne, Vic., 2009.
SOL Cleaning Services, ‘About us’. SOL, 2009, viewed on <https://www.sol.fi/en/>.
- See more details in; SOL Cleaning Services, ‘About us,’ SOL, 2009.
- See more details on management functions in; H Kerzner, Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling, Edition 10. John Wiley and Sons, New York, 2009, p. 56-186.
- Samson and Daft discuss the “old workplace and “new workplace” in; Management, Third Asia Pacific Edition. Cengage Learning Australia, South Melbourne, Vic., 2009, p. 89.
- G Callender, Efficiency and Management, illustrated Ed. Taylor & Francis, Washington, 2008, p. 254-301.
- W Pride, R Hughes & J Kapoor,Business, 10. Cengage Learning, Boston, MA, 2009, p. 105.