ROANOKE, Va. — I have given up watching the news. It only depresses me, because nothing ever seems to improve. We have a postal service that is going broke, a Social Security system that will run out of money, a government that spends more than it takes in. Members of Congress are unwilling or unable to put on their big-boy hats and work toward a solution that is best for the country. If this were a laundry, it would quickly be out of business.
As laundry managers, we face problems on a continual basis. We face pressure from competition in the form of other laundries and from disposables companies. In the healthcare market, we face cost pressures and an uncertain future caused by the Affordable Care Act. Our jobs are getting harder, not easier. It is time to remember a simple Boy Scouts of America principle: Keep It Simple, Make It Fun (KISMIF).
It is our responsibility, as leaders, to clearly define the challenges facing our organizations, and effectively communicate those challenges to every staff member of the facility. This means we need to keep the message as simple as possible so that everyone can understand the challenge and what they can do to help the company succeed.
As managers, we discuss financial matters with our boss, board members or owners in a language that the average hourly employee probably does not understand. Our communication with our employees needs to be simple, direct and positive. Employees will follow leaders when they understand where they are going, and why they need to get there.
It also is important that we make the journey fun. I can remember taking long car rides with my parents and always asking, “Are we there yet?” I was much happier when I learned to read a road map. I knew where we started and where we were going. I was able to watch the towns go by, and watch our progress toward our ultimate destination.
Like my road map, we need to chart our progress and report back to our employees how we are doing. Simple charts posted in the production area or in the break room can help keep the employees focused on the ultimate goal. Make sure your feedback is relevant and timely and provides the kind of information your employees need. If in doubt about what they need, simply ask them.
My parents knew I could only ride in the car for so long without having the ability to get out and run. They planned interesting stops along the way at parks, museums, play areas or tourist attractions. These intermediate stops helped make the journey fun. We need to celebrate our achievements along the path to improvement. Do not wait until you have reached your goal to have a party. Bakery cookies supplied during an afternoon break can deliver a powerful message about how far we have come. Celebrate as often as you can.
Surveys have shown that the main reason a person stays on a job is because they feel like they belong. They describe the workplace as supportive, fair and an enjoyable place to work.
By celebrating our milestones along the journey to success, we make our companies enjoyable places to work.