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Why You Need HIPOs to Lead Your Team

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Wednesday, October 3, 2018

By Jean Hanson

Any residential cleaning company, no matter its size, is only as strong as its leaders. Without capable leaders steering the ship, a business is doomed to sink.


That’s why it’s incumbent upon you – the business owner – to know what makes a good leader. Without this understanding, you’re likely to fall into a common trap—promoting high-performing employees instead of high-potential employees (HIPOs).


Very often, business owners and managers use promotions as a way to reward their most reliable technicians for their hard work. While it’s important that your best cleaners feel valued and appreciated, promoting them to a supervisory role is a mistake if they don’t have what it takes to be a leader.


The skills needed to be a great leader and a great cleaning technician don’t always overlap.


Why does this matter? Bad promotions come at a cost to your business. There’s money spent training the person, lost productivity during their training process, and additional money required to find and train their replacement. Not to mention the potential hit to employee morale; half of employees have quit a job to “get away” from a boss, according to Gallup’s 2015 State of the American Manager report.


Conversely, research has found a strong correlation between good bosses and employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and revenue. Promoting the best potential employees into leadership roles could boost employee performance by up to 30%, says a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research.


When it comes to employee advancement, it’s important to take a holistic view instead of focusing on performance indicators, like cleaning efficiency or effectiveness.


What makes someone a high-potential employee?


These are the people who:

  • Seek out opportunities to expand their skills
  • Enjoy what they do
  • Are in engaged in their work
  • Eagerly take on extra tasks
  • Frequently go above and beyond


They may not be your star cleaners, but they could shine as supervisors or managers.


These are the types of employees who sometimes get passed over for at promotion time, either because they haven’t met certain performance metrics or because they seem overly ambitious and likely to jump ship for a bigger company with deeper pockets. Don’t make this mistake.


Identify these high-potential employees and groom them for leadership positions. Whether you have a formal leadership development program or use ad-hoc mentoring, teach these employees the necessary skills to someday step into a leadership role.


If you can afford to invest in formal leadership development, it can pay off when it comes time to fill supervisory roles. According to the Training Magazine survey, only 58% of companies
that put a low emphasis on leadership development can bring a new leader to high proficiency in less than 18 months, but it jumps to 75% among companies that make leadership development a high priority.


What’s more, cleaning companies without solid leadership-development plans run the risk of creating a toxic business culture. Employees who don’t see a path for advancement or potential to learn and grow, will quickly become unhappy and jump ship. Before long, your company will develop a negative reputation in your service area, making it hard to
find quality employees and (potentially) causing customers to choose other residential cleaning companies for their home.



Each of your employees has different strengths and weaknesses. As the ultimate decision maker for your company, it’s critical that you understand the difference between those who are high performing and those with high potential. Focusing on the latter and grooming them now to become part of your company’s succession plan, is the key to long-term, sustainable success.


About Jean Hanson
Jean Hanson has been in the cleaning industry for 31 years as a cleaning business owner, speaker and certified marketing consultant. She helps commercial and residential cleaning companies grow their business through her online businesses at, and More than 12,000 cleaning business owners have used training and resources from these sites to start, grow and manage their cleaning business. Jean is speaking with Sharon Cowan, CBSE at the show on
Wednesday, October 31


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