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Cultivating Trust in Laundry Teams (Conclusion)

“One thing my supervisors say is that they feel like they can’t trust employees to get the job done. What can we do to cultivate trust?”

Consulting Services: Stephanie Gregg, Vizient, Little Elm, Texas 

Stephanie Gregg
Stephanie Gregg

This is a very sensitive and personal question for me as I have struggled with delegating the work to others in my career because I’m reluctant to give up control.  

One of the best things said that helped me in my own journey is, “The most effective leaders are able to be out and no one in the organization notices a change because the teams take ownership and accountability for their circle of influence.” 

Giving up control and trusting others to complete the job is paramount to a successful culture. 

If you set the expectations from the beginning, train staff and give them the tools to do their job, encourage and coach along the way, and celebrate in their success publicly and correct privately, the result will be a team that wants to work for you because they know you trust them and believe in their abilities. 

Commercial Laundry: Rodrigo Patron, Lace House Linen, Petaluma, Calif.

Rodrigo Patron
Rodrigo Patron

To foster a positive and productive work environment, trust plays a vital role. However, building trust can be challenging. 

From my personal experience, I have found that four basic principles can help cultivate trust between employees and supervisors: Communication, Consistency, Recognition and Empathy. 

Effective communication is crucial to building trust. Supervisors should encourage open and transparent communication, and communicate regularly with employees about expectations, progress and challenges. 

This helps create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns and ideas, which is essential for building trust. 

Consistency is a key factor in building trust. Supervisors should demonstrate reliability in their actions, decisions and communication. 

Consistent behavior and adherence to established policies and procedures help employees feel secure and understand what to expect from their supervisors. 

Supervisors who exhibit consistency in their approach to problem-solving and decision-making build credibility over time, which strengthens the trust employees have in their ability to lead effectively. 

Recognizing and appreciating employees for their hard work and contributions is a powerful trust-building tool. Supervisors should acknowledge achievements, whether big or small and express gratitude for the efforts put forth by their team members. 

This positive reinforcement not only boosts morale but also communicates that supervisors value and recognize the unique contributions of each employee. 

Celebrating successes and publicly acknowledging individual and team accomplishments create a positive and supportive work environment that enhances trust. This could be as simple as verbally letting an employee know that they are doing a great job or as elaborate as an award for the employee of the month or quarter. 

Demonstrating empathy and understanding is crucial for building trust in supervisor-employee relationships. Supervisors should take the time to understand the unique challenges faced by each team member and show empathy toward their personal and professional situations. 

A supportive and empathetic approach fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty among employees, creating a trusting atmosphere where individuals feel comfortable approaching their supervisors with concerns or seeking guidance. 

This could be as basic as remembering the employees’ names or making small talk with them during a daily walkthrough. 

I think it’s safe to say that conflicts are bound to arise in any organization with more than two employees. The laundry industry is especially prone to conflicts due to the prolonged time spent with co-workers, who are often also family members. 

The laundry environment can be tough, and working for long hours sorting soil or in front of an ironer while the weather is scorching hot is not easy either. However, trust plays a crucial role in effective conflict resolution. 

When there is trust between supervisors and employees, conflicts can be addressed promptly and resolved amicably. This prevents the development of lingering issues and fosters a foundation for open and honest discussions.

Chemicals Supply: Leonardo Gastelum, Norchem Corp., Los Angeles, Calif.

Leonardo Gastelum
Leonardo Gastelum

It goes without saying that trust is crucial for every work environment, but it’s not something that happens overnight. It takes time and genuine effort, particularly when it involves earning the trust of superiors. 

It can be difficult to navigate cultivating trust when it appears that there is little to none to start with, but there are different ways to go about fostering that trust in manageable and measurable ways. 

As with most things, communication is the cornerstone of all relationship-building tactics. But above all, it is important to be open and honest in your communication with your team. Make sure everyone knows what’s going on and feels included. 

It’s also important to set clear expectations and goals so everyone knows what they’re working toward. Setting the example encourages employees to demonstrate that same culture in their interactions and with the management team, in turn. 

Giving your team members the freedom to make decisions and take ownership of their work is another way to show employees that you value their input and thereby create an environment of doers. 

Equally, offering support and feedback regularly can direct the employees to align with the goals and expectations, while not forgetting to celebrate their successes along the way. 

Trust goes hand in hand with respect. By creating a culture where everyone feels valued and respected, you inherently begin to cultivate a trust that prompts supervisors and employees alike to cooperate and overcome conflicts as they arise. 

Encouraging accountability and learning from mistakes, especially from the standpoint of a supervisor, can show employees that there is not a culture of punishment but instead improvement. 

After all, we’re all human, and mistakes happen. It’s how we grow from them that matters. 

Remember, trust goes both ways. Show your team that you trust them, and they’ll trust you in return. Together, you can build a workplace where everyone feels supported and appreciated.

Equipment Manufacturing: Chuck Anderson, Chicago Dryer Company, San Diego, Calif.

Chuck Anderson
Chuck Anderson

This is an interesting statement that I think should be looked at in multiple ways. 

First, you must pinpoint when and how trust was broken. Are we effectively communicating our goals and objectives, and have we given our supervisors the right tools and education to manage employees? 

Maybe it’s time to get more involved in how tasks are being communicated to the troops, are supervisors talking to the employees or at them? 

Our words, tone and body language have everything to do with the results we receive. Make sure your supervisors are listening to the employees and providing the right feedback. 

If not already doing so, have one-on-ones with your supervisors and employees as frequently as possible to make sure everyone is on the same page and communicating well—consistent communication and information sharing build trust. 

Providing feedback on the health and direction of the organization and getting employees involved in making decisions, or at least sharing their ideas, makes employees feel like part of the team and can help cultivate trust. 

Roll up your sleeves and provide assistance or guidance with tasks to show you care and know what it takes to do the job. This will also help you glean insight into whether the tasks are realistic and manageable.  

Keep everything performance-based and don’t take things personally. 

I’ve seen many times when a line employee is moved up to supervisor due to tenure or being at the right place at the right time and the supervisor is not fit for the job or there is animosity among the team if they all once worked side by side and feel the employee did not deserve the supervisor position. 

If possible, investigate team-building activities, which can help build trust between your supervisors and employees. 

Finally, review your policies, procedures, and standards, and make sure everyone has a copy and that they are posted in a prominent place so everyone knows what their job responsibilities are. 

We all know trust must be earned and does not happen overnight. Be patient, compassionate, and fair, and focus on the best in people. Trust will come with the right nurturing. 

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”—Ernest Hemingway    

Click HERE to read Part 1 with thoughts from experts in healthcare laundry, hotel/motel/resort laundry, textile/uniform rental and uniforms/workwear manufacturing.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].