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‘Laundry Book Club’ Introduces Self-Help Worth Talking About

Eric Frederick |

There are many management self-help books out on the market, and I’ve enjoyed reading a number of them.Who Moved My Cheese? is a great book for any organization facing the challenge of adapting to change. It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small...It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow is an excellent book for any organization facing competitive pressures. Organizations looking to improve their morale will benefit from reading The No Complaining Rule.
Each of these books can be read in less than two hours. They carry great messages that will allow us and our staffs to improve our operations.
We’re gearing up to make formal use of these books in our facility by creating the Laundry Book Club. We’ll buy a copy of each book for every manager and supervisor. The laundry will own the books and loan them to these employees.
Each month, we’ll select a book for our group to read and discuss. Our weekly management meetings will include reviews of the book and how we might use some of the author’s ideas in our operation.
Applying general management principles to our laundry operation is the key. I’ve always believed that management’s most important job is not to come up with new and exciting solutions to problems but to adapt existing solutions to our unique operation.
I will readily admit that my laundry operation is not perfect. There’s always room for improvement. Many of us understand that we need to improve the skills and analytical thinking of our management staff. As the ghost of Jacob Marley says in A Christmas Carol, mankind should be our business.
Another favorite saying of mine is “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
This book club idea is about teaching people how to do their jobs better. This increased knowledge not only improves the bottom line, it also improves feelings of self-worth.
I’ve worked in the laundry industry for more than 35 years and have enjoyed the opportunity to work with a wide variety of employees. Many of them faced true hardships, having fled from oppression or war. They may feel inadequate or have low self-esteem. Additional knowledge and training is the cure for these problems.
Once the managers and supervisors have had a month to read the book, lead workers and other key personnel will get the opportunity to read it. This group will also meet several times during the month to discuss the message contained in the book and how we can implement it in our operation.
It will most likely focus on parts of the message that differ from those the managers analyzed. We tend to focus on the part of the message most pertinent to our circumstances. By combining views, the organization becomes stronger thanks to the broader perspective.
I’ve always been amazed at how poorly I can predict what key element my employees will pull from an article. I’ve tried to predict their responses and make implementation plans ahead of time, but they’ve always proven me wrong. The sum total of their life experiences is simply different than mine.
Our cost for the Laundry Book Club program involving 12 employees will be about $100 per month. The potential cost savings from implementing one good idea that reduces turnover or improves production is 100 times that investment. And the excitement and commitment from an energized staff is priceless.
 

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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