What were your steps toward becoming a head housekeeper?
After my younger daughter reached the age of 12 and started high school I was desperate to get a full-time job after my diploma on business and management to help give my oldest daughter and son a proper education at the university. I applied for a room attendant job first at Mcdonald Old Swan four-star Hotel in Harrogate North Yorkshire to get a grip of how the hotels work. It's about one hour travel by train from where I live since there was no job available nearby. After three to six months, my executive housekeeper noticed how good I was. I was promoted to be one of three assistant housekeepers which meant I was to be one of the three supervisors for 136 bedrooms with 20 staff to look after. After a year I became the deputy head housekeeper, and I am proud of it. I'm sure I've reached my dream to be one of the heads of the department and all my children are all professionals. My eldest daughter a biologist, my son is in architecture design and my younger daughter, now 27, is a nurse. What do you love about your housekeeping job?
What I love about my job is the satisfaction of doing it, having good feedback from the customer on how they enjoyed their stay through the comfort and care of their bedrooms. The high standard of cleanliness from top to bottom. The teamwork and togetherness with our staff - good motivation and looking after each other by giving appreciations on staff birthdays and anniversaries. Incentives such as housekeeping of the month with £50 voucher - always being appreciated for a job well-done.What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as head housekeeper?
My biggest challenges were in January 2002 when Gisborough Hall where my husband used to work as a head waiter was going to be built as a hotel 15 minutes walking distance from home. As they already had a head housekeeper, I applied as a Deputy Head Housekeeper while the hotel was in the middle of refurbishment, ready for the opening by March 2002. I met the head housekeeper and found out that she was not as experienced as I was told she was. When we started the training, she couldn't run the computer, didn't know what organization meant and had no management skills.
First week of January all members of staff gathered and had a big meeting, introduced ourselves, our experience and goals and objectives. The general manager gave us the task to do our core standard procedures for our own department and submit it within the end of the month. My head housekeeper was about to retreat as she didn’t have the experience. My general manager still wanted her to stay due to the fact that she's paid far below any other department head and he knew I could proceed without her, but he would have to pay more if I ran it myself due to my knowledge and experience. Due to my love and passion for the job I just agreed to their offer. To be fair I decided to train her on some management skills and organizing to avoid a bad situation. She organized the staffing and purchasing items to set up 71 bedrooms while I typed 50 pages of core standard procedures on how to set up, clean the bedrooms and the whole departmental offices, as well as revival zone for beauty treatment and massage. I made the flowcharts for the room attendants and for ground floor and office cleaners. I introduced a plan for induction and training.
Unfortunately, two weeks before opening the head housekeeper was sick and the bedrooms not set up. I had to do something. I saw the general manager and asked all different department staff to help for one day to set up and refresh all 71 bedrooms. Ten restaurant staff, four sales staff, four banqueting staff and four front of house staff worked together. I gave a list to each group to set up 71 tea trays for 71 rooms - how many coffees, teas, kettles, teapots, milks, etc. in each room. One group of staff was to polish and vacuum 71 bedrooms and 12 staff were to make beds and set up bathrooms while I walked around and supervised. Two days before opening my head housekeeper still sick, but we made it with the help of all of the department staff, jobs well-done.Can you recall any crazy moments from your housekeeping job?
The craziest thing on this job is how to keep your staff motivated. I had a conflict with the sales department for booking small bedrooms to a couple with two children that needed two small beds; there was no space to move around to clean and it was all about health and safety issues. Then the guest was not happy with the room, but there were no more rooms available. They ended up checking out early and wanted their money back since we ruined their holiday. On the other hand, at Christmas time some guests were handing out presents and some happy and well-off guest gave tips and thanked everyone who looked after them. When you received good comments and appreciation from the guest that makes you proud of your job and boosts your confidence. The most interesting thing about this job is you meet a lot of people in so many ways of life - celebrities, popular people, politicians and so many good people. You make friends and they keep on coming back with their families and friends.Do you have any advice for those looking for housekeeper jobs or who want to become a housekeeping supervisor?
To break into this field you need a good education in management communications, especially on the subject of your interest, hospitality. You need to have good organization and planning; have a lot of determination, patience, skills and knowledge; and passion for all of what you're doing.Want to know more?