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Submitted by sloganvi on


 Our team consists of 18 people. The cleanliness of our team kitchen is a constant struggle. I have held one-on-one discussions with every member of our team about cleaning up after themselves. Everyone says they clean up after themselves and while things get better for awhile, they overall problem persists. To me the problem highlights deeper, fundamental problems.

Two days ago, someone left a coke in the freezer and it exploded making a nice mess. I placed a note on the freezer asking whoever made the mess to clean it up. No one stepped up. This morning I spoke to everyone personally - no one admitted to the act. One person, who I do not believe is the culprit, stepped in and cleaned the freezer.

I have two problems that need solving. One is rolling out a policy that will motivate everyone to do their part in keeping the kitchen clean. The other, more troubling problem is dealing with the liar.

I would appreciate very much your ideas on how to effectively deal with these issues.


Thanks in advance,



rdar's picture
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We have a schedule for weekly kitchen cleanup, everyone is expected to sign up for a week. There's a checklist of things that must be completed.  It works ok, not great because it requires management to follow up with the slackers.

karl66's picture

Hi Stuart,

if 18 people are responsible, NO ONE is responsible. And surely, if I 'mostly' clean up behind myself, but leave a tiny speck, then that is the reason for the next one to leave yet another one ... . 

So:  "what RDAR says". 

Or, for a team that size, you might be able to turn defeat into victory, by silently cutting a few dollars out of the next pay rise, and allocate that to hire someone to clean the kitchen in the evening. 

Let us know how you played it - and if it worked. 











jmarkey77's picture


I agree with the comment if everybody is responsible nobody is. I disagree with silently taking money out of wage increases. I'd put the question to the team as a whole and do some camel building for a solution, then hold the group accountable for the solution and celebrate the wins of the plan working out.


Good Luck,

Jeremy Markey

duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

My suggestion?  Stop wasting your time policing the kitchen.  You've got better things to do.

I'd bet that if you let the kitchen deteriorate a bit, you'd find that peer pressure would eventually kick in and the place would be miraculously cleaned up.   Someone in the group always knows who the Coke person is.

If that doesn't happen, let your people know that the company will need to get rid of any facilities that become a health hazard (microwave, refrigerator, cutlery, whatever).   Let them know it is either that or you want to hear how the problem will be solved.

Long before that stage I bet someone will have told you who the Coke offenders are.    If you believe the informant, you can then provide appropriate feedback to the offenders about use of company facilities (and the importance of honesty).     There's a cast for that.



acao162's picture

We have a perpetual messy kitchen problem.  Ours is that we host a lot of meetings where the participants would not be expected to wash their own dishes.  So, expecting each will "take care of" their own is unrealistic.

What I do is a mixture of two things:

1.  I do the dishes.  Middle of the day, I go off and do the dishes.  That generally solves any back sliding for a month or two.  (Oh gosh!  The "boss had to do the dishes"

2.  I assigned the task.  It is actually the responsiblity of one person to ensure the dishes get done.  If no one else has done the dishes, this person is expected to do them.  However, peer pressure means others will do them too.  This peer pressure (refer to #1), ensures that the direct who is "supposed" to do the dishes doesn't have to actually do the task that often.  Often, she does the dishes 1x a week.

And, I think it is appropriate to follow up with people who never do the dishes, who host large meetings & don't clean up etc.  I point out that it isn't fair to everyone else to clean up after their meeting.

The standard is that the sink should be empty every morning.  We don't hit the mark as often as I'd like but I'd rather dishes got delegated "to the floor" for a day or two if it means customers come first.