One of many thoughts rolling around in my skull these days is a lesson many of us heard in our younger years: Two ears, one mouth.
Or maybe: You will never learn a thing with your mouth open. Although I still cherish the sentiment, there are many times I have added value to an effort as I tried to explain the essence of the project, either to an industry colleague or more likely to my better half, Connie.
There were many times I felt inadequate as I sat in boardrooms and listened to professional talking heads as they explained what was going on in my trucking company, and what I should do next. After all, they had the credentials, they must have something figured out. And on top of that, they don’t stop talking.
It took me years to finally listen to my inner ear, and I also had an outstanding business coach. This man repeatedly drilled into me that I needed to trust my instinct, that inner voice that many of us ignore in favor of cursory advice from so-called uninvested professionals.
My thought process has advanced to the point where I value the principle that the accumulation of a single lesson of value learned every day is the secret. It is that small accumulation of ideas and experiences that add up to a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is essential in life and business.
The accumulation of all of the victories, failures, and scars in and of themselves do not bring value unless we learn something from them. This wisdom comes from experience, not a classroom.
Holding the title of the Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) retention coach has allowed me into many companies’ inner workings. We talk about bettering a company’s driver retention, which is the primary goal, but what we’re really talking about is the client’s company culture.
Changing a company’s culture into a place where people want to work and stay is the real strategic challenge. I tell folks that during our work together, they will do the same things they are doing today, just in a different way, in a more driver-centric way. I call on 10 years experience driving longhaul. I call on running a successful trucking company and almost running a company into bankruptcy.
I call on holding leadership roles in national trucking associations. Most recently, I can call on the experience of working with a couple of dozen trucking companies and seeing what has worked and what has not worked in their efforts to improve their culture. Have no doubt that the culture at your company either brings drivers in and makes them feel valued and supported, or drives them away without a second thought.
I’m often asked for endorsements on my work, and I am fortunate to have several success stories. I have also worked with companies that have not seen the success they should have, and I will take ownership of those experiences. How can one take ownership of the wins without addressing the ones that didn’t get what they expected?
Changing company culture can be like trying to turn the Titanic – they don’t turn on a dime. It is the commitment component where things can wane. Just as how the accumulation of one good thought a day can mold a person into a valued resource, these things take time and patience that is just not as prevalent in many companies in our industry.
I have recently become a virtual colleague with Brian Fielkow, the author of Making Safety Happen, and his teachings mirror many of my own. But views it through a different lens, and I love it. Brian owned Jetco and was faced with changing the culture into an industry leading safety culture, and he did it. His offering is nothing more than a strategic plan predicated on learned experience and trial and error that resulted in success. You can find Brian’s offering at www.brianfielkow.com.
The other common element that draws us together is legacy. Both Brian and I would like you to buy our products – after all, we are and will always be entrepreneurs. But what drives our particular passion for what we do comes from our core values. I feel that if I can help a company drive its turnover down, I have saved numerous drivers from having to have to deal with the personal failure that comes with looking for new employment -that interruption in household income along with the family stress associated with turnover. In Brian’s case, if his program can help companies act in a manner that is dedicated to safety as a moral imperative, he has saved lives and the carnage that comes from heavy vehicle accidents.
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