The trucking industry is always changing, and the real leaders in this industry are the ones who can be innovative, adaptable, educated, and focused while guiding their people through change at the same time.
Today, new technology—specifically automation and the media hype around it—is putting industry leadership to the test. But the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Last month I had the pleasure of being the keynote speaker at the Manitoba Trucking Association’s annual conference, helping to set the stage for two panel discussions on technology and the future of trucking.
While automation and other technological advancements are informing interesting discussions about changing roles in trucking, the one constant is the human element.
We can’t lose sight of our people.
Getting goods to their destination will always require a team of skilled, trained, and competent professionals, from drivers who interact with the public; to dispatchers who communicate with drivers and customers; to sales personnel who relate with customers.
Automation may bring more efficiency but it is our people who keep freight and the supply chain moving. Cost savings, safety enhancements, and environmental impacts need to be analyzed, and data does not analyze itself. People need to be managed and empowered, and people do not lead themselves.
Some more HR insights on the future of trucking:
While media hype surrounding automation and self-driving trucks may lead us to believe otherwise, we still need truck drivers. They are not being replaced anytime soon. The competencies and required skills are changing, though, and as an industry we need to stay on top of these skills so driver training keeps in step.
The need for training goes beyond our drivers. Technicians, mechanics, and even dispatchers need to understand new technologies. Managers responsible for the bottom line need to bring strong analytical skills and business acumen, and senior managers need to ensure investments in technology match customer needs.
Don’t keep your HR folks in the dark
As you consider technology in your business, make your HR folks part of the conversation. Your decisions affect the skills and competencies your company will need and may change traditional job functions. You certainly don’t want your employees to think they are being replaced. Make sure your staff are properly trained, informed, and empowered to exploit this technology as best they can to improve your bottom line. Engage your HR person, or team, to ensure you fully capitalize on your investment.
Lastly, while we all anxiously await to see where these new technological advancements will take us, let’s not forget that the trucking industry is a people-driven industry. And that will never change.
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