Kitchen etiquette dilemma: ‘I’m not the office maid. My name isn’t Hazel!’

This posting by an administrative professional on our Admin Pro Forum drew such useful responses that we thought we’d share them with all our readers:

The problem: "I’m in charge of turning on the dishwasher each night before leaving. To some, this translates to my also being in charge of cleaning up after everyone. Often, there are dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter, empty food containers left out, etc. … and it’s left for me to clean up. Several memos have been distributed … but have not been successful. Any ideas? I’m tired of being known as the office maid. My name is not Hazel!"

Some Forum members’ solutions:

Adopt a ‘tough-love’ policy to prompt offenders to clean up after themselves. "In our department, it’s posted that any dishes left in the sink or not cleaned and put away will be placed in the trash. Since we actually follow through, we don’t have a problem with dirty dishes in the sink." —Jo

Spread kitchen duty around. "At my office, all non-management staff take turns having ‘kitchen duty.’ Each person is responsible for one week at a time, and the list is posted on the fridge. This acts as a powerful motivator, as it makes people realize what a pain it is when people don’t take care of their own dishes." —Lisa

Difficult People D

Clarify what you will and won’t do. "I would distribute a final memo notifying the staff that the dishwasher will be run at night only if it’s full. After a couple of days of a sink full of dishes and no clean cups for coffee, folks will start putting their own dishes in the dishwasher. Also, post a sign by the sink. Visual reminders can help." —Diana

Tip: For solutions to more kitchen faux pas (such as "Who ate my yogurt?") read our free report, 14 Tips on Business Etiquette: Setting a professional tone with co-workers, clients and customers.