How to help these 3 types of drivers get back to A-game
The transportation industry is part of the backbone our country, moving goods from factory to store or from jobsite to jobsite. The men and women behind this driving force (pun intended, ha) are the most important assets of a transportation company. Good drivers, who are safe, efficient and friendly, can bring a company success, but sometimes there is a driver who’s a bad apple that can drag the organization down.
Drivers who are thoroughly rotten, speedsters, lawbreakers and timesheet liars, are shown the door quickly. In most companies though, there are some apples that are just slightly bruised and if left to fester can contaminate the whole barrel. Often times managers just live with it, wanting to avoid conflict and thinking it is human nature after all and “that’s just how he is.”
Granted, you can’t give someone a personality brainwash, but if you encounter these drivers in your organization, it would be a good idea to address their behavior so they don’t spoil the bunch.
He might be the owner’s uncle who’s been driving for 33 years and has a hard time, shall we say, learning new tricks. His habits have gone a little lax over the years (cough DVIRs) and seems to get crankier and quirkier by the day. At times he’s endearing and altogether reminds you of Si Robertson on Duck Dynasty.
The problem here is that when a family member or veteran employee who act like they’re above the rules and fail to uphold the company policies causes other drivers to think “well, if Uncle Kent can get away with it, it must not be very important.”
How to deal
Family members and veterans tend to have a vested interest in the success of the company but don’t understand how new policies or tools are being used to improve the organization as a whole. Thus, they shirk these new responsibilities. When adopting new processes, it would be a good idea to ask for their opinion and address their concerns. You might find that through his old trucker eyes, there are questions that hadn’t been considered. The added bonus is that he will feel involved in the process and be more likely to embrace change because he is part of it.
Mr. Long Way Around
For whatever reason, this driver never seems to make it to the destination on time, citing traffic, road conditions, personal preference and so forth. He might even slip these little lies through his teeth, not realizing that you could very well check Google Maps whenever he cries traffic. This driver might be paid based on miles, incentivizing him to expand his trip out of the way as much as possible.
How to deal
Every mile driven off-route costs money in fuel, time, and vehicle maintenance. It increases the chances for accidents which drive up insurance. When sitting down with a driver like this, it is best to have hard numbers and maps handy to show his current inefficient performance versus the more efficient route and that taking it would increase his take-home pay (through more job assignments or performance bonuses) Remember to check back with him in a few weeks and provide reinforcement for positive change.
Mr. Cell Phone
He who can’t put down the phone while behind the wheel is a danger to those around him and your company’s CSA score. Drivers like this might say that being on the phone isn’t a big deal since they’re comfortably cruising in a straight line at 50 mph. But whether he’s calling the dispatcher for better directions or chatting with his wife, it’s all the same. Distracted driving increases the chances of a preventable accident, period.
How to deal
If after several warnings, the driver still has trouble keeping with the policy, it might be a good idea to take a step back and analyze the situation. The driver might be in a situation where he relies on the phone to perform his work in which case management is sending mixed messages. If the driver is calling or being called frequently by the office for loads, you might want to consider an alternative of how to get the information to him, like via a dedicated in-cab data terminal where dispatchers can communicate load information and directions to drivers
While we’re on the subject, policies such as “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” where drivers are required to silence and place their phones in the glovebox before driving are simple to communicate to drivers to help decrease cell phone use. There are also smartphone apps such as Motorola Assist, that detect driving situations and automatically send a text to the caller.
Shunning the subject of less-than-great driver behavior to keep the peace doesn’t make the problem go away, instead it allows the behavior to spoil the organization. It can be daunting as a manager to broach the subject with employees, especially those that are nice and pleasant to be around, but if you approach it openly and honestly, and are willing to work with them, you will find that your workforce will come out better for it.