Next-Gen Execs Discuss Strategic Planning, Professional Development

Posted November 17, 2023 at 2:25 pm

A Nov. 9 TRSA virtual roundtable enabled about 50 next-generation industry executives to share their companies’ experience in strategic planning and employee professional development, reflecting these disciplines’ importance to ensuring a bright future for linen, uniform and facility services companies and their supplier partners.

This TRSA Next-Generation Executives Network event split the participants into two Zoom “rooms,” providing for smaller group discussion on both topics. Dan Gonder, Strategic Insight Partners, facilitated the strategic-planning discussion for one group, then the other. Eric Smith, Alliant Systems, also rotated from one to the other, covering professional development.

Prompted by this facilitation, most participants added to the conversations, leaving their webcams on and speaking up to describe their experiences and offer each other advice.

Strategic-planning discussions revealed the variety of processes used by different companies to perform this function. Any hesitancy to undertake such planning is often overcome by exploring the wealth of such options and finding at least one that an organization’s team can be comfortable with. Most of these prove effective, Gonder observed, because companies execute them properly by working hard at them and using them consistently.

Of the techniques described, some were customized, but all shared core principles, such as sharply focused discussions and a commitment to achieving measurable objectives. Participants agreed that “whatever your process is, make sure it has purpose, and you’re always aware of why you’re doing it. You don’t just go through the motions.”

Smith’s sessions focused on developing internal talent. Several attendees noted that a company’s external messaging such as rebranding efforts, social media presence and/or website redesigns is a key element in successfully attracting the right employees to your company. One of the reasons Next-Gen members felt that this strategy is effective is because it helps align the company’s core values with the prospective employees’ core values.

Once the employee is a member of your team, it’s imperative to provide continuing education, training and opportunities for employees to learn and build new skills so that they can advance in your organization. In short, the group agreed that the more opportunities that you provide your employees, the better off your organization will be, Smith noted. The group pointed to an abundance of training materials and opportunities in the industry, including internal corporate training that many companies provide, access to fee-based services such as LinkedIn Learning, as well as industry-specific educational programs, such as TRSA’s Executive Management Institute (EMI).

For more information on joining TRSA’s Next-Generation Executives Network, contact President & CEO Joseph Ricci at