ROANOKE, Va. — Many years ago when I was in high school, my dad taught me a very valuable lesson—the power of goal setting and planning.

I was a freshman and just an okay student. I usually did just enough to get by and hopefully that would keep both my parents and the teachers happy. But that first year I ran into an Ancient History course. The teacher was fresh out of college and was teaching the course in a lecture style.

While I found the course very entertaining, I was ill-prepared to take the detailed notes needed to get a passing grade. After an early warning note sent home after the first six weeks, my father met with the teacher and quickly diagnosed the problem.

Part of his solution was to work with me on goal setting, not only for my freshman year but my entire high school career. We discussed the grades I would need to be eligible to go to college and, more importantly, to set me up for an excellent future post-high school. We set GPA goals for each semester, and they would require considerable improvement on my part.

He then set about working with me to develop a plan to achieve those goals. My most urgent need was to learn how to take good lecture notes that could assist me in passing Ancient History. Fortunately for me my father had been an excellent note-taker all his life and showed me his outline system that he used. Each day after school my dad would review my notes from Ancient History and critique how well I was doing.

By the end of the first semester, I had a C+ in Ancient History and a life skill that would help me get through college. By the end of my four years in high school, I had met or exceeded all the goals my dad and I had set forth four years earlier.

The challenge in managing a laundry department or any other organization is working with your management team to set realistic goals for the coming year. Goals can only be met when everyone agrees and is willing to accept the goals as the direction for the organization. Goals should not be easy to reach but should also not require a miracle to be fulfilled.

Once goals are set, it is time to look at the skills needed to meet that goal and develop a plan that incorporates education, training, measurements and required steps to achieve what was agreed upon. Group goals require group effort or they fail.

Many years ago I was a scoutmaster in Milwaukee. In my youth I had been a member of a very large troop where everyone reached their first-class rank, a few made it to star rank and one boy made it to the life rank, but I do not remember a single Eagle Scout out of the 135 boys. We had a great activity troop but rank advancement just did not seem that important.

In Milwaukee, one of my older boys really wanted to become an Eagle Scout. He worked very hard during his 17th year and just made it to Eagle before he turned 18.

What I saw in the eyes of the boys in that troop I had never seen in the eyes of my fellow scouts in my youth. That single act of achieving the Eagle Scout rank made every other boy in the troop believe that they could reach that goal as well. Setting high goals and achieving them was possible.

A laundry that sets ambitious goals, develops its employees with the needed skills and then through properly planning achieves those goals creates an environment that cannot be beaten. It creates a workplace where people have pride in their work and are anxious to come to work every day.

Set a deadline today that in the next two weeks you and your management staff will jointly develop five goals that will improve your operation. Once they are set, determine what education is needed to achieve those goals. Finally, no more than four weeks from today, develop detailed plans that can be measured to achieve those goals. 

If you will accept this challenge then 2021 can be the best year in your organization’s history and the start of an incredible journey.