Rules Of Connecting With Your Employees

There is so much to this story, perhaps I’ll need to write a second part in a future issue. Connecting with your employees is similar to any other relationship we might have in our life. Often a disgruntled, unhappy – the Simon Legree type of boss – cannot connect with some employees. Many factors can make this so. No two employees are alike, some being more sensitive to orders barked at them. Others are impassive and do as they are told with no issue. Also, different bosses have different personalities. It has been said that being “in charge,” be that as an owner, manager, supervisor, or any other lead position, can be a miserable job. If there is a gruff owner, who does not trust in their leaders, they may never give the appropriate respect. It can be a lonely and frustrating job being mid-management. But again, the difference is in how different we all are in the game. Garnering respect from a boss or an employee is a relationship building process that may take a long time. Some of us have had the pleasure of hiring that person who is just about perfect, rarely needs any guidance and is respectful. These folks are rare gems to have onboard.

An Aggravating Issue Of Reliability

Many aggravations stem from the reliability of your employees. Tardiness does not show any respect between owners, managers and employees as to how to treat one another. The number one culprit for not connecting? Absenteeism or tardiness. For many years this is the cry I hear most from operators (those who tolerate it) is workers being late. Of course there is always the “Monday sickness” among the absentee worker, thus throwing the whole operation into a fizzy because now someone must cover that loafing employee who had too much weekend. In fact, think the quality that suffers. It does not matter which industry anywhere; all quality suffers when employees don’t show up unless you have a “floater person” to cover this aggravation. When I take my car to the shop for instance, I am told they are backlogged because of worker shortage. I tell them I will wait until they are caught up so my $150 an hour service repair will see to it that the quality does not suffer. As drycleaners and laundrymen we face the same challenge every day. Who is going to be absent and how do we cover for them. The bane of every plant owner’s existence! For the people who still promise rushed fast, one-day turn around to their customers – you now have to worry as everyone crams the work through and quality goes adrift. I, as a customer, would not want my clothes rushed. I have said it before and I will say it again. Unless you only do a hundred pieces a day, you cannot afford to sacrifice quality for turnaround. No sir, I would be as nervous as a long tailed cat under a rocking chair to think I may have compromised quality for slamming the clothes through the plant

That Employee Who Takes Customer Parking Spaces

It has been said that I was a demanding boss, and I was. It is true. However, I was fair and generous to my people. I don’t think I was tough and unfair by not allowing them to use a customers parking space. That is a story that deserves to be told. I see it all the time. What I also see is the owner or manager thinking they are better than the customers by parking in front of their own store. Can you believe this happens? A plant owner once told me that because she worked hard and finally had her own business that she rewards herself by parking smack in front of the door. She only had three dedicated parking spaces in front of her store, but by golly, she was going to take one of those three. Let’s see, the owner thinks she is more important than a customer. Wow! I still reel over that one! My advice to her went to the wayside. Well, okay “to each to his own the man said, as he kissed the cow.”

I was at a doctor the other day and the two of his employees were parked in the front two spaces he had for his office. These employees were parked there, and smoking cigarettes! This was a pain clinic to boot. I watched an elderly couple hobble with canes across a bigger parking lot nearby and struggle to get inside. What is horribly wrong with this picture? Sad but true. With all the hullaballoo about great CSR’s and how the business world has improved. I challenge folks to tell me how happy they are in this world of customer service, anywhere you go. There are stories, but few, about the good CSR’s. What does that say about our industry, or any other business in America? This does not sound like putting the customer first.

The best way I know to connect with your employees is to listen to them, listen to their opinions,  respect them. But then, tough love needs to enter the picture. This is your business, your livelihood, your family fortune and your worry over losing customers. You must have an employee manual with rules and procedures. Otherwise you are adrift. I have seen some thoughtful and fair employee and company policy manuals. The problem often is that, like rules in our society that are not enforced, your company rules are not enforced. Then your employee has you over a barrel and you have now risked everything in your business to allow a careless rule avoiding employee to “run the show” so to speak.  I know you don’t want to lose that great employee, but there has to be enforcement or your business is jeopardized. Is it worth the risk? Tough Love must work in society, homes and businesses or you will have grief. Never forget that you are in charge, no one else. Don’t delegate this authority away.

Some suggestions for company policy:

Employee Etiquette *

Employee etiquette is how you conduct yourself in your capacity as an employee to your employer and your co-workers

Never arrive at work drunk, smelling of alcohol on under the influence of drugs

Be on time for your job. Better still, be early!

Be respectful to your employer

Respect the business goals and help to achieve them

Respect the firm’s confidentiality of information

Provide your boss with information as required

Keep your boss well informed in a timely fashion

Respect all other employees

Cooperate with your employer

Cooperate and connect with all employees

Do not ‘big note’ yourself, there is no place for arrogance in this world

Wear appropriate office or plant attire, for example correct footwear, not thongs (flip flops) – they are strictly casual or beachwear. No exposed midriff to display tattoos and body piercing. Be neat, clean and as conservative as the business requires

It is extremely rude to arrive late for a meeting. It is worse still to not attend at all. Having a good excuse does not exonerate you

Do not dominate the meeting. All communication must take place through the person running an employee/manager meeting.,

Do not interrupt another speaker

Pay attention to the proceedings quietly

Do not leave the meeting until it is closed by management

Answer your phone pleasantly even if you are having a bad day

Always return telephone calls and do so as soon as possible.

Show consideration for other people’s feelings

Apologize if you are clearly in the wrong. If in doubt, apologize anyway. It’s no big deal and brings closure to a fruitless event at work.

Accept an apology graciously and with compassion

If there is conflict, do not get personal in your remarks

Keep interruptions to a minimum and always apologize if your intrusion is an interruption of a discussion

So why doesn’t everyone respect your leaders, employees, and your boss? He or she provides you with a means to live and feed your family. If they are a lousy demanding loud mouth or crude idiot, then you really don’t want to work for them. A sensible and generous boss is what you want.

Now go out there folks and grab the tiger by the tail. Everyone is a winner if they follow the rules.

I’m headin’ to the wagon, these boots are killin’ me!

About Kenney Slatten

Kenney Slatten Training Company is a Dry Cleaning and Laundry Consulting Firm Specializing in Environmental Training and Certification. Kenney Slatten Training Company, or KSTC, is based in Texas with offices in Arizona and California. Kenney Slatten is a certified instructor/trainer for the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI), is actively involved in the San Diego Drycleaners Association, the California Cleaners Association, is an Allied Trade board member of DLI, the Executive Director of Western States Drycleaners & Launderers Association, a member of the International Drycleaners Congress, and a columnist for American Drycleaner and Western Cleaner and Launderer magazines. The Kenney Slatten Training Company provides the only complete environmental training and inspection process. Started in 1987, Kenny became the first instructor for California E.P.A, OSHA, and state regulations. Kenney publishes a 36 point plant requirement every year in trade publications which is his guide for plant training and certification. We are the only company that provides dry cleaning and laundry specific environmental training. Kenney Slatten is a third generation drycleaner/laundryman from Houston, Texas. His company, KSTC, can teach you the skills you need to have a successful plant. His wagon is found all over the country parked under a tree just waiting for the next call to come to your plant. He can be reached at (800) 429-3990; e-mail: or go to: www.

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