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Cultivating Trust in Laundry Teams (Part 1)

“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?”

Healthcare Laundry: Jay Juffre, ImageFIRST, King of Prussia, Pa.

Jay Juffre
Jay Juffre

What a rabbit’s hole this question produces. It is best to look at this from a few different angles (although, there are probably many).  

If a supervisor were to tell me they can’t trust employees to complete a task, the first thing I would ask is, “Why do you feel that way?”

Did we not train them to do the job correctly? Did we hire untrustworthy or lazy people? Is there something about the job that makes it too difficult to complete? 

Are we concerned they may not be able to do it as good as the supervisor?  How much time did we really spend with these employees building trust? 

The point being you must unpack why any supervisor would feel they do not trust employees to complete a task.  

Also, we must remember that trust is a two-way street and typically earned. The best way to cultivate trust is to spend time doing it. Too many companies, hire people quickly and then spend zero time trying to get to know them or position them for success. 

Starting with the hiring process, is part of the process based on hiring people who are honest and trustworthy? 

As silly as it may sound, when interviewing people, I always think to myself, “Would I trust this person with my family?” “Does this seem like the type of individual who I’d invite over to my home for dinner and leave them alone while I went out to pick up some pizza?” If the answer is no, why would I let them work for the company?  

Once you find the right candidate and hire them, ensure the supervisors take the time to train them on the job at hand and get to know them as employees and people.  

The supervisor should also objectively observe what aspects of the job they do well. This will help build the trust they are looking for. 

It also goes without saying that trust is a two-way street. How much do the employees trust the supervisor if he or she insists on doing the job for them instead of letting them try and complete it?  

Ultimately the simple definition of trust is doing what we said we were going to do. We hired the employee to do a job. Let’s keep our end of the bargain.  

Also, trust them to make a mistake or two and learn from it.  We hired or promoted someone to supervise (supervise and train them). Let’s make sure they are doing just that as well.

Hotel/Motel/Resort Laundry: Samantha Propson, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wis.

Samantha Propson
Samantha Propson

It is human nature to be hesitant to put our trust in someone to ensure jobs are completed to the company standard. 

Show your supervisor that you can make a decision, even if it doesn’t work out and needs to be approached in a different way. This shows that you aren’t afraid to fail and are willing to work things out through trial and error.

Building trust and showing your manager that you are serious about your position is not something that happens overnight. Trust in employees takes time and effort. Don’t try to push or act out of character trying to gain it, be genuine and be patient. 

Show your manager or supervisor that your responsibilities are addressed and that you can handle different tasks when given. If a deadline isn’t met for a project or work is incomplete, the duties are going to fall on coworkers or supervisors and may cause conflict in the workplace. 

Following through on what you promise to complete, leads to someone supervisors can rely on and builds a positive and productive workplace culture.

Another way to cultivate trust is by being honest in everything you do. If you do not know how or are not knowledgeable in an area, approach your supervisor and ask for help. 

If you are asking for help with something that you may not know the most about but are still willing to try, it shows initiative. 

Effective communication is a way to cultivate trust as well. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Clear communication explains your intentions. This can help gain confidence in what you do. 

It shows that you are ready and willing to get the job done, building a level of credibility as time goes on.

Textile/Uniform Rental: W. Kirby Wagg, Performance Matters, Sarasota, Fla.

W. Kirby Wagg
W. Kirby Wagg

In the fast-paced world of the textile rental laundry industry, trust is not just a desirable quality, it’s essential for smooth operations and business success. 

As an industry veteran with over four decades of experience, I’ve witnessed, firsthand, the challenges that arise when trust between supervisors and employees falters. The sentiment of supervisors feeling unable to trust their team members to get the job done is a common concern that can hinder productivity and morale. 

However, at Wagg’s Linen & Uniform in Canada, we found effective strategies for cultivating trust within our organization.

One of the core principles guiding our approach to fostering trust is the empowerment of employees, especially route reps. We recognized that trust is a two-way street. It begins by giving the route rep the autonomy and authority to make decisions independently when they are dealing with a customer concern on route whether collecting receivables or adjusting customer inventory. 

Rather than micromanaging every aspect of their work, we empowered them to take ownership of the situation. This not only instilled a sense of responsibility but also demonstrated our confidence in their abilities.

We provided guidance, mentoring and support rather than dictating every step of the process. We encouraged open communication and dialogue, where route reps felt comfortable expressing their ideas, concerns and suggestions. 

By creating a culture of transparency and collaboration, we fostered a sense of belonging and mutual respect within the team.

When employees feel supported in their professional growth, they are more likely to demonstrate dedication and loyalty to the company (I had three of the best route reps in the industry with me for over 30 years). 

At Wagg’s we often provided opportunities for our route reps to experience a managerial role such as route managers or plant managers.

We recognized the importance of recognition and appreciation in building trust. We made it a priority to celebrate achievements, milestones, and successes, whether big or small. By acknowledging and rewarding our reps’ contributions, we reinforced a positive work culture where trust and camaraderie thrive.

Another key aspect of cultivating trust is fostering a sense of accountability among employees. By setting clear expectations, defining roles and responsibilities, and establishing measurable goals, you create a framework for accountability within the organization. 

When employees have clear expectations and the necessary resources and support to fulfill their obligations, trust naturally follows. 

Stay interviews (one-on-one conversations) are a key component to the process. These can be casual encounters, or they can be more scheduled. Either way, it shows your concern for their well-being. 

In conclusion, building trust in our industry requires a multifaceted approach that prioritizes empowerment, communication, recognition and accountability. I have seen, firsthand, the transformative impact of these strategies on our organization’s culture and performance. 

By empowering employees and fostering a supportive work environment, you cultivate a solid foundation of trust that will drive your success.

Trust between you and your employees is not built overnight, but with dedication, commitment, and the right strategies, it can become the cornerstone of a thriving workplace culture.

Uniforms/Workwear Manufacturing: Duane Houvener, ADI-American Dawn Inc., Los Angeles, Calif. 

Duane Houvener
Duane Houvener

Building trust between supervisors and employees is essential for a healthy and productive work environment. Here are some strategies to cultivate trust:

Set Clear Expectations: Ensure that expectations for performance, deadlines and quality of work are communicated clearly to employees. When everyone understands what is expected of them, they are more likely to meet those expectations. 

Those expectations must be established early on—ideally during training. Set the realistic bar and make sure they understand the goals.

Empower Employees: Give employees autonomy and ownership over their work. 

When employees feel trusted to make decisions and take initiative, they are more likely to feel valued and motivated to perform well. A high-performing employee makes for a successful mission, environment and bottom line.

Provide Support and Resources: Ensure that employees have the necessary resources, training and support to do their jobs effectively. Feeling supported by their supervisors and having access to the tools they need can boost confidence and performance. 

Employees who feel they don’t have the right tools to meet the expectations will not only fail but could bring down others around them.

Encourage Open Communication: Create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their ideas, concerns, and feedback. Encourage regular one-on-one meetings between supervisors and employees to discuss progress, challenges and goals. 

Everyone seems to have an “open-door” policy. Make sure yours is legit. 

Follow-up on EVERY SUGGESTION. Let the suggesting employee know why their idea may not be a viable solution, but under no circumstances should their idea be ignored.

Lead by Example: Supervisors should demonstrate trustworthiness in their own actions and decisions. 

Consistency, honesty and integrity from leadership set a positive example for employees to follow. Be available to your employees. Answer their calls, their e-mails, and their suggestions.

Recognize and Reward Success: Acknowledge and celebrate achievements and successes, both big and small. Recognizing employees’ contributions shows appreciation and reinforces positive behaviors. 

Address Issues Promptly: Address any issues or concerns that arise in a timely and respectful manner. Ignoring problems can erode trust and morale within the team. 

Promote Collaboration: Foster a collaborative culture where teamwork is encouraged. When employees feel supported by their colleagues and see the value in working together, they are more likely to trust each other and their supervisors.

Provide Opportunities for Growth: Invest in employee development and provide opportunities for learning and advancement. When employees see a path for growth within the organization, they are more likely to be committed and engaged.

Seek Feedback: Regularly seek feedback from employees about their experiences within the organization. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and demonstrate a commitment to fostering trust and transparency.

By implementing these strategies, supervisors can help cultivate a culture of trust where employees feel valued, motivated, and empowered to perform their best.

Check back tomorrow for insights from consulting services, commercial laundry, chemicals supply and equipment manufacturing experts.

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