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Golfing is Fun, but Education Should Be Primary Focus

Eric Frederick |

Spring is in the air. The flowering trees are strutting their finest, and we’re all coming out of our winter hibernation. It’s time to make plans for the summer and decide where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do during our free time. It’s also time to start planning which educational seminars we’re going to attend.
Over the years, I’ve found that those educational programs that offer a golf outing as part of their program draw a larger attendance than those programs that are designed to maximize the educational benefit of our time away from work.
Managers who complain that they’re too busy to get away from work for an educational program are the first in line if the program includes a golf outing. It’s always been a great disappointment to me to see the laundry managers spend more time getting ready for the golf outing than they do taking notes and participating in the educational sessions.
There’s much to learn and stay abreast of in this rapidly changing world of ours. In a recent educational program for hospital department managers and administrators that I attended, it was clearly pointed out that the only way hospitals will continue to be profitable is to 1) improve productivity where possible and thereby decrease labor costs, 2) control supply expenses, 3) reduce the impact of increasing utility costs and 4) increase volume.
All of these items apply directly to the laundry industry and the answers to these questions cannot be found on the fairway.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to play golf. I enjoy the fresh air and feel I get my money’s worth by seeing the entire golf course, not just the fairways. I’ve often held business meetings with clients on golf courses and feel this is a legitimate venue for such activities. Education, on the other hand, is not compatible with a golf game. There’s a very real danger in putting too much emphasis on the golf part of the educational meeting.
When this happens, we tend to rush through the educational part of the meeting so we can get to the good stuff. I would contend that if the only reason a person comes is for the golf outing, then the efforts to put on a good educational program have been wasted. Those who are really there just for the golf will be a distracting force for those who want to learn.
I’ve often said that the only job security a manager has today is in what he knows how to do and what value he can bring to his employer or any future employer. As we see industry giants like Angelica streamline their management team (much like National Linen did a number of years ago), job security has become a significant issue. Staying abreast of the latest developments in our industry and increasing our skills are an essential part of maintaining secure employment.
So, the question becomes, is it a golf outing or an educational session? My advice is that we demand more emphasis on the educational part of the meeting and less on the golf.

About the author

Eric Frederick

Carilion Laundry Service

Director of Laundry Services

Eric Frederick is director of laundry services for Carilion Laundry Service, Roanoke, Va., and past president of the National Association of Institutional Linen Management (NAILM), now called the Association for Linen Management (ALM). He’s a two-time association manager of the year. You can reach him by e-mail at efrederick@carilion.com.

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