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Rise above the stress

The best managers are able to rise above stress and lead their employees through tough times, even though they face their own pressures. None of us are immune to the financial pressures and emotional stress on the home front; but hopefully management is better equipped to leave it at home. Sometimes they're not.

Recently a commercial laundry hired a general manager from a competitor, unaware of the GM's short fuse or penchant for openly berating direct reports in front of other managers. Within a few weeks the whole plant got turned upside down with unnecessary stress, only because the right employment references had not been tracked down.

Stress lurks in our laundries twelve months a year. The question we need to answer is what can be done to control this human dynamic that causes burnout, extra pressure and negative work environments?

Handling Stress
I recommend we start with our self and look inward. Are you leaving your home issues at home? Do you set a positive tone with your direct reports and co-workers, would they say you instill confidence? Are you communicating your work related critiques to the right people at the right time in the proper manner?

Next, observe how those around you handle stress. Start with those above you, and remember, those who appear to have more financial cushion, typically also have more to lose. If appropriate, make an empathetic ear available. The mark of a good employee is someone who makes his or her "boss's" job easier.

You may have great people above you, and any problems below can be ultimately fixed by you. Often it is the incompetent peer manager that can push you over the edge. The laundry will always have battles between production, service, maintenance, sales and service. The customer may always be right but some of the managers we work with are not, or so we claim.

What do you do with the peer manager you are convinced is incompetent? If the two of you share the same the boss, you may be tempted to "bash" him or her in private conversations to your boss. Not a good idea. Instead, identify the top one or two reoccurring issues and arrange a private meeting with the peer manager. Use your best persuasive abilities to bring him or her around to your way of thinking. They may be bringing personal stress issues to work or have difficulty in seeing the big picture. In fairness, you may discover through your communication that they have validity in their approach to the problem.

If the problem remains unresolved then arrange a meeting with your manager and ask for advice. Show that you identified the key issues and professionally discussed them with your peer manager. Show your willingness to work with the other manager by simply asking for suggestions on how to reach a common goal.

Although this extra effort may still not resolve the real problem, you will feel better at clearing the air professionally with the co-worker and with a potential arbitrator. Moreover if a confidential search needs to take place to replace this employee, your actions may ultimately be what start the process in motion.

Meanwhile, are your direct reports causing you stress because of attitude, incompetence, or inconsistence work ethic? Are they doing this in spite of your outstanding leadership qualities and coaching abilities? If so, then lay out a plan to surround yourself with quality people. If you need a higher quality employee but are restricted by the current budgeted wage / salary then use your ability to persuade your boss on the need to readjust the budget. Implement add-on incentives to the compensation or build in short term salary reviews for the replacement employee.

It is never too late to make a New Year's resolution - make an extra effort to minimize stress in your laundry. All levels of co-workers will thank you for it.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Lapauw Acquired By Private Investor

BELGIUM — Lapauw and its affiliate Lapauw France have been acquired by Mr. Philippe D’heygere for an undisclosed amount. The Belgian based manufacturer of industrial laundry equipment officially announced that it has recently sold its rights to Mr. Philippe D’heygere, a successful international entrepreneur with special interests in global expansion.

“I have worked with the Lapauw family for 46 years. Following my first meeting with the new owner, I feel very confident that this agreement will provide the experience and resources needed to expand into new markets and bolster support to our existing distributors and customers,” said Andre Henrard, Export Manager for the countries outside Europe. The current management will remain active and no personnel change is expected.

In a joint statement to their distributors, the Lapauw family announced “Mr. D’heygere has international expertise and will reinforce the position of the Lapauw Group as a successful worldwide leader of premier laundry equipment.”