Facilities Management: how to tell the Bolts from the Gatlins


Gatlin Bolt
We need to look beyond individual performances to fix a broken system.



The weekend saw the end of the greatest sprinter of all time, Usain Bolt. The party was somewhat spoilt by him finishing 3rd behind the young American Coleman (2nd) and Gatlin (1st).


Justin Gatlin was booed as the result was confirmed. The twice banned for drug abuse athlete returned 12 years after winning his first World Championship to ruin the Bolt farewell party.


However, is Gatlin the one to blame here?


I mean, yes, he cheated twice and served two bans, the second was over four years (reduced from eight). An eight-year ban would have certainly ended his career which is why it was reduced through the courts.


Back to my question: “Is Gatlin to blame?”


As a former Olympic athlete, I am certainly not going to leap to the defence of a drugs cheat. However, like it or not, Gatlin was entirely within his rights to compete in that race – and to win it. Whether we like it or not doesn’t matter one jot.


I believe the IAAF and the athletics system failed the fans and ruined the party. A lifetime ban would have meant Gatlin couldn’t have been in London and Bolt would have finished second to a younger, up and coming athlete. It would have almost been the perfect send-off (handing over the baton, so to speak).


Without delving too deeply into the convoluted doping ban and appeals process, never mind all the other previously banned athletes that are competing in London this week (that the crowd seem oblivious too), I believe the system failed, not the athlete.


You’re probably reading this at your desk in (hopefully) a nice clean office environment. I am guessing there are days when your office isn’t quite so clean, the cleaner didn’t empty your bin, or clean your desk which is still sticky. It’s frustrating and certainly has an impact on you and your staff productivity.


There is a fair chance that the blame will go on the cleaner, quite right, they do the cleaning, right?




They are the Gatlin of the cleaning world, although I’m pretty certain they have never taken performance enhancing drugs to clean your office faster…


The system has failed them and, more importantly, you. A persistent lack of satisfaction is a strong indication that your cleaning company doesn’t have the correct management system in place to support its staff, nurture and train them, and help them understand what an acceptable level of cleaning is, every single day… so you boo them.


The immediate response is to sprint to the phone and, upon calling the cleaning company, ask for a new cleaner. Of course, most cleaning companies will play along with this, apologise and replace.


But one bad cleaner being replaced by another is hardly going to help you in the long term. The system needs fixed.


If this all seems too familiar then next time you spring out of the starting blocks to grab the phone, ask your cleaning company to provide evidence of training, support, site visits and an audit trail for your office. If this is demonstrated and acceptable then, and only then, is a change of staff the right option.


There may be many reasons for the lower standards (especially if it has happened suddenly), too many to cover in this blog, but the process above will at least identify if you have one rogue cleaner or a poor management system in place.