A few summers back, I was golfing with some colleagues from the trucking industry in the Toronto area. It just so happened that the topic of the day was the importance of driver retention and what carriers are doing to help reduce their turnover.
We were held up by the foursome ahead of us for most of the morning so decided to stop after 9 and grab a hotdog and beverage to go. We had just made the turn and were heading down the 10th fairway when we were approached by the starter who drove up and angrily barked, “Speed things up! You’ve fallen behind and are holding everyone up!” He then proceeded to drive away.
We were holding everyone up? Really? The foursome behind us had also stopped for a bite and was not even close to heading to the tee yet. We all looked at each other in disbelief. We were playing at an exclusive golf course and had just grabbed a quick lunch at the turn. Now we were being harassed by a starter with an ego who forgot who the customer was.
If we were really behind, could he have said things differently? Absolutely! How about something like this…“Hey boys, how’s the round going? Great day for a game! I’m wondering if you can you do me a favour? The course is a bit busy today and we’re just asking everyone to try and be ready at the tees to keep things on time. Can you help me out and pick up the pace a bit?” It’s really not what you say, it’s how you say it.
I was so irritated by the starter’s outburst that when I got up to hit my tee shot, I sliced the ball into the farmer’s field beside us. As I left the tee box, cursing the starter for my poor shot, my colleagues graciously reminded me that even when I’m in the best frame of mind I slice the ball that way plenty of times.
How often do we snap back at our Drivers like the starter did to us that day? Communication is key to the retention of our Drivers.
Many of the personality conflicts we have that get blown way out of proportion could have easily been avoided if we chose our words wisely or watched our tone. Remember, the driver has nothing but miles to think about what was said. If he takes the wrong message with him, watch how it can percolate and grow by the time he gets home.
Let’s use the following statement to prove my point:
“I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.”
How many ways can this statement be said by changing our tone or annunciating each word? How does it change the meaning of the sentence?
- “I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.” This implies someone else could have said it.
- “I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.” This says that it was never said or implied.
- “I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.” This says it wasn’t spoken, but may have been implied.
- “I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.” This puts the blame on someone else.
- “I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.” This means the person is not to blame.
It really all depends on the way you say it. When speaking to employees and Drivers try to really watch your tone and choose your words wisely.
Too often we think that just because we told them once what was expected, that they should understand. Communication is not just a transfer of information; it’s a transfer of understanding. As leaders it is our responsibility to ensure they understand what is expected of our Drivers and Employees.
Communication also is the response you get. If you are not getting the proper response from your people, you need to change the way you are communicating with them. Too often we try to communicate key information over satellite, text, or email, which can lead to misunderstandings. If you have to discipline a Driver, avoid doing it by email and definitely don’t copy others unless they are involved in the process. Take five minutes to pick up the phone, or better yet have a face-to-face conversation when at all possible so that they can hear the tone in your voice. With email and satellite message, tone is so often misinterpreted and we all know how that can get blown out of proportion.
Later this month, many Carriers and Suppliers will be attending the National Recruiting and Retention Symposium in Toronto. The lineup of speakers for this inaugural event is exceptional.
Alison Graham – Resiliency Ninja
Mastering Everyday Resilience for Recruiters and HR Professionals
Denise Beaupre – Owner and COO of Auction Transport
Limitless Potential for Recruitment & HR Professionals
Ray Haight– Co-founder of TCA inGauge
The Secret to Solving the Driver Retention Puzzle
Ellen Voie – President & CEO of Women in Trucking Association
How to Attract and Retain Women in Transportation Careers
Scott Rea – President of Avatar Fleet
The Driver Shortage is for your Competition
Mike McCarron – President of Left Lane Associates
The Uncut Reality of Recruiting & Retention
Why Fleets Need to Attend?
Key issues affecting the transportation industry always revolve around Recruitment, Retention and Human Resources. People in the transportation industry deserve to have educational opportunities to be the best and to have access to continued education and resources to grow within their sector.
With this line up it’s certainly a ‘do not miss’ event for Fleets that are serious about attracting and retaining quality Drivers to their Fleet. The seminar will be packed!
Many times the ideas presented obviously require approval from management. Although the information shared will be exceptional and could be just what your fleet needs to hit your targets, it’s not as easy for the recruiter to sell management on the value of the fresh ideas that will be discussed. I’m really hoping that more President’s and HR managers will also choose to attend this year.
I’d be willing to bet that our starter was just having a bad day and probably never gave his comments to us another thought. Funny, I’m sure he didn’t realize his comment would ever be written about a few years either.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Dispatcher, Maintenance Manager, Safety Manager or Recruiter, everyone has skin in the Driver Retention game. Don’t let your words or tone be the final straw that makes them head down the road and pull into a competitor’s terminal for that coffee they have been offered and turned down so many times before.