By Steve Binkley,
I’ve had opportunities to interact with professional truck drivers for over forty years. For twenty-seven years as an enforcement officer conducting DOT inspections and presentations and for the last fifteen years working with drivers in the motor carrier industry as a safety professional. The one thing I know is very important to drivers is being truthful and honest with them. Most drivers have heard it all and it doesn’t take a driver long to know truth from fiction. Drivers are also most likely to do their homework when considering a motor carrier to drive for such as reading on-line reviews, talking to other drivers, and checking the motor carrier’s safety score’s.
Building a truthful relationship with drivers can determine and influence how much trust a driver has in you and the company, their quality of work, their commitment to the motor carrier and their length of employment. Drivers want to feel important and be treated as an equal and that the work they perform is appreciated. Below are tips to help build positive relationships with our drivers.
Constant communication with drivers is important, drivers spend a tremendous amount of time alone and most drivers appreciate a phone call, text, or email if only to say, “How’s everything gong”, Know drivers by their name not a truck number or driver code. Be honest with driver if something regarding the load has changed. Listen, be an effective listener and hear the drivers concerns and ideas.
Be fair with pay and benefits. Don’t tell drivers their pay will be so much per mile or hour and then they discover its really something less. If the company awards performance bonuses it is important drivers know what it is and how they can receive these bonuses. When drivers are told they will make this amount of pay and companies follow through it helps build the trust and drivers start to have confidence in the motor carrier.
- Training and career development
Offer drivers effective training programs so they can learn and continue to build their career and reputation as a professional truck driver. Let drivers know if there are opportunities to grow with the company, will the driver be considered for other positions within the company other than driving if they are interested. Ask the driver what their goals are and how the motor carrier can help achieve their goals.
- Appreciate and recognize
Show appreciation for job well done. Sometime a simple thank you! Can go a long way in the driver feeling appreciated. Wishing a driver, a Happy Birthday or recognizing a drivers anniversary date with the motor carrier can help the driver feel important. Driver reward programs such as driver of the month and year can also give drivers goals to achieve. Driver articles in company newsletters are also effective as well as nominating drivers for state and national awards.
It is important that drivers experience and see what the culture of the company is from the top and throughout the company. Is it positive? are non-driving employees working and interacting in a positive way. Are the employees eager to help and have good things to say about the company. Are drivers included in company outings and have positions on employee committees.
- Providing a safe working environment
Having safe equipment for drivers to drive is important, what is the carrier’s vehicle out of service rate compared to the national average, performing routine and necessary repairs, listening to drivers when the driver reports a defect helps the driver have confidence in the maintenance program and that the driver will be taken seriously. Inform and educate drivers on the equipment, technologies, and amenities the truck might have.
- Exit interviews
When driver quit do an exit interview, attempt to find out why a driver is leaving the company, is there something we can do to change the drivers mind within reason. Does the exit interview provide useful information that the company can use moving forward that may address an issue why drivers are leaving.
Building trust and positive relationships with drivers is one of the most important responsibilities a motor carrier has. It can help contribute to the success of the company and its reputation throughout the industry. Constant driver turnover can be costly. We should do our best to make the drivers employment a rewarding and positive experience so that drivers will want to stay and feel wanted as we all desire.