Commitment throughout the organization is important to the success of improving driver retention. But commitment is especially important among the ownership and management team as they are setting the example for all others in the company. To consider and then decide to embark on a project to improve driver retention means that ownership and the senior management have looked at the problems of excessive costs associated with poor retention, recognized that significant planning and effort, affecting the entire company, must be undertaken and that this effort is warranted by the significant savings and service benefits that will be the result.
Put this way it is very obvious that the cultural change you are about to undertake is strategic in nature. It is strategic because we will be investing time, confidence and responsibility in company employees well beyond your driving force. In the process, you will be transforming the company from one that is a victim of all that is harmful about high driver turnover into one that is a positive, supportive and a service-oriented place to work. A company where people, drivers and owner operators included, want to work. A transition like this is obviously strategic in nature.
Commitment is one of the most critical ingredients to the success of any effort intended to bring long term improvements to the way business is done. To begin, this commitment must come from the directors of the company and it must be very visible – and active. It must be genuine and it must be unwavering. After all, people throughout the company will have important roles to play and their commitment must be inspired and supported by the commitment they see in their leaders. In short, company leaders must be seen to walk the walk and make the same commitment that is being asked of the rest of the company departments. This is why it’s called leadership folks.
In addition to fostering commitment among the staff, the senior-level commitment must be lasting, since this is a lengthy project that will eventually become the new culture of the business, it must be unanimous among the leaders. This last aspect is sometimes difficult to ensure, but it is important that the leadership team speak and act in unison on the need for the company to make the significant changes necessary to reduce Driver Turnover. At the senior management level, this means that a personal commitment must be mandatory and delivered by each member of the management team. Like a lot of strategic planning initiatives, it would be a good idea to make positive and supportive engagement a part of the personal performance criteria for managers during this project.
Let’s acknowledge that achieving and maintaining commitment among the leadership team is not something that can be accomplished just by asking for it. There are very natural and predictable obstacles along the way and perhaps the most common is the difficulty we all have with adapting to change. This is natural – we all strive for stability and then along comes a new idea or a new process or a new direction and we naturally question and resist the change. But the management team has targeted real benefits for the company and its employees. We have agreed to undertake reasonable steps to achieve great results, we have agreed to change.
Turn that agreement to change into a commitment to change. We have a commitment to reduce Driver Turnover. We are committed to making our entire workforce a Strategic Advantage for our company. Achieving and maintaining commitment will require you to regularly re-visit our plan and objectives to remind everyone that the change we are undertaking is worth it. We do this to reinforce the commitment among the team. Do this so you do not fall back into old habits. In fact, be on the look-out for any wavering of commitment and the creeping in of those old habits.
So, what other benefits can we expect by recognizing the importance of commitment and then taking specific actions to achieve it? We will create a culture throughout the organization that sees and comes to expect a management team that means and does what it says. Secondly, it will deliver proof to the management team that they can achieve significant results by working supportively together – and they can use this approach to be successful in other important projects.
We are getting ready to draw a line in the sand. You can make it a bell weather moment, the one that drove home the need for us to do something serious to improve driver retention? The team must be in unison on this for it to have sustainable impact, so make it a practice to occasionally remind ourselves of what motivated us in the beginning. Use the bell weather moment, the frequent reminders about all the benefits that are ahead – and even reminders to the leadership team about how important their commitment and solidarity is to the rest of the company.
We make this commitment to a new strategy because we know that companies with less turnover are safer companies. We know they pay less in insurance premiums, they have lower CSA scores, these two items alone lead to a more profitable company. We know this to be true and after all isn’t this what were here for, profit is not a bad word, but profit while those around you also thrive and flourish is the best situation one could envision, and the neat thing is that this vision is entirely within each and every companies grasp. All leadership need do is muster the courage and commitment to design an effective strategy to achieve the goal and get at it.
So, what is holding you back on this, there is no time like the present, were too busy, were installing a new software program, we’re looking at an acquisition, we have a vacancy on the senior management team. Have you ever thought that maybe you’re the problem, maybe the individual resistant to change is the face in the mirror? I’ve heard it all, believe me, when it comes to the excuses, the “hey we’ll do it later, after this that or the other thing is out of the way”. Well folks the time to act is now, it is never too late to reinvent your corporate culture and do the right thing. Your entirely too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.
Safe Trucking – Rjh
Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations. All posts by Ray Haight