by Shawn Shaughnessy
In this day and age, it is no surprise that we are struggling to keep good CMV drivers in the seat, let alone find one to hire with the massive driver shortage in our industry. One of the most successful advertising tools over and above all of the pay sites that charge you a fee to publicly advertise your employment opportunity is word of mouth. This very important tool is often overlooked and is not held to the standard that it should be when we budget for advertising yearly. Most budget to use a pay site that under delivers on their promises. It is always good to consider if your drivers are expressing their satisfaction with your dispatch, pay, benefits, and overall working conditions pertaining to your company to other drivers. It is just as important to seek your employee’s opinion on whether they believe as employees that they work for a good company. Your competition’s drivers will start to inquire about the opportunities that your company may have if your current drivers are giving positive information to those who may be seeking employment.
This does not mean that drivers have the power to make or break your company in their conversation with other drivers. It truly means that the drivers have the ability to affect who is coming through your door as prospective drivers. If a driver gives a negative report on your company to prospective drivers working for the competition, they will most likely not ever inquire about a position being advertised. It is important to have an open-door policy with your drivers so they can vent, voice their concerns, and feel free to have respectful dialog with their supervisors, dialogue that dictates understanding and not reprimand. As a safety manager, or as a hiring manager, you have the opportunity to dissolve situations that can likely grow to epic proportions just by listening. It can be just as productive as any other learning experience for both you and the employee. Most of the time, drivers just want to know that you care about them and their opinions as well as policies or situations that are out of their control.
If you are fair when you are administering corrective action, most drivers will respect you for your position and subsequently, you will be able to meet their expectations as they meet yours in performance, customer service and attitude. As managers, we cannot expect from the drivers any more than we expect from ourselves. Expecting the driver to be perfect is not a realistic goal because imperfection is a part of the human condition. What we can expect is excellence in whatever job function they may be performing. whether it be pre-trip, post trip, or in route inspections, customer service, or safe, professional, and courteous driving. A good rule of thumb is any driver who receives violations, citations, customer complaints, or provable negative road observation, (NRO’s), would indicate that they are performing at a substandard level then you expect. If excellence is your guide, at this point, corrective action would be required.
It is my opinion that you should never rebuke the driver in such a way that tears them down based on their weaknesses. I do suggest that you try and build up the driver based on their strengths reinforcing their need to know that they are doing a good job for you and the company. By taking this approach, you will also encourage the driver to perform at their peak, more often than not. Although each driver is unique and some drivers are above reproach, with this management strategy, you will be able to attract drivers who are experienced and may be looking for a new opportunity with your company and your current drivers will be assisting you to accomplish this goal through positive word of mouth.
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