Leading the way
Jun 1, 2006 12:00 PM
APPLYING good leadership skills and understanding drivers can help carriers improve driver retention rates, according to information presented at the National Tank Truck Carriers Safety Seminar April 4-6 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Get out of management and provide leadership,” said Gary Putman of GS Putman and Associates, quoting from a publication, Monday Morning Leadership by David Cottrell.
Putman and Randy Sheeler of F T Silfies discussed driver recruitment and retention, major challenges for carriers in today's marketplace.
“Money motivates drivers, but recognition also motivates them,” said Sheeler in discussing his company's President's Road Team program designed to improve retention. “Our culture is recognition of our drivers.”
Putman noted that carriers in the hiring process must maintain high standards even though driver demand may tempt employers to do otherwise.
“This is really, really difficult,” he added.
Communicating with drivers so they understand the demands of the job before they are hired is essential, Sheeler said.
“Drivers should come to work prepared to put in the time required for the job,” Putman said, pointing out that drivers may not coordinate their rest time when they are off duty, which means they come to work fatigued.
He also advised employers to consider the generation the applicant/employee belongs to — and the culture that it entails — in order to better understand their motivations.
Referring to data published in Generations at Work by Zemke, Raines, and Filipczak, as well as Beyond Generation X by Claire Rains, Putman noted that Baby Boomers born after World War II may have different work ethics than people in the Generation X group who were born between 1960 and 1980. Both groups typically are dissimilar from the World War II generation, known as Veterans, who were born between 1922 and 1943, and generally express a strong work ethic.
Baby Boomers are more likely to respond to perks as rewards and prefer knowing they are necessary for the company's success than are the Generation X group.
Generation X employees make up about 40% of the workforce today, but are likely to be more independent than the generation preceding them and very comfortable with technology.
“Use generational thinking,” Putman advised for managing personnel and understanding their actions.
Turning to drivers in carrier pools, Sheeler said his company's President's Road Team is composed of seasoned drivers (including a record of 2.6-million accident-free miles) who act as mentors in the recruitment and retention program.
“They are available to the new guys 24/7,” Sheeler pointed out.
At the same time, any member of the team who is concerned about the qualifications of a new hire (or applicant) can disqualify that person.
Putman said new hires, as well as everyone in the company, must understand the carrier's business goals. Only 37% of most employees typically understand company goals, he said, citing a recent survey by The Harris Poll.
He compared the percentage of employees understanding the company goals to a soccer team in which only four of the 11 players would know which goal was theirs.
“Employees need to know what the main thing is,” he said, quoting from a publication, Monday Morning Leadership by David Cottrell. “This is a good subject for you to go over with your management.”
He also advised employers to acknowledge their best performers: to be sure that they know they are top performers, that other employees know it as well, and that excellence is required for the company to be successful.
Sheeler said that the F T Silfies President's Road Team was designed to reward the carrier's best performers and to pass their knowledge on to others.
Both speakers agreed that rewarding drivers and taking an interest in their families are key methods for insuring driver retention.
Putman recommended a family safety day event so that spouses can be briefed on the safety program and its requirements.
Silfies conducts a family weekend retreat for its President's Road Team drivers and has other family gatherings, as well as annual driver award events.
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