My last months article was about a consulting job I have taken on with a company I am calling Freight Hauler Express or FHE for short. As you might recall they are a 50 driver fleet in a specialized niche’ market and are growing quickly and are experiencing all the typical pains that go with that success. Human Resources issues, driver turnover resulting in management by crisis and because of these issues customer service is being somewhat sacrificed. In addition to those issues HOS noncompliance, there is a lot of back biting going on or as I call it playing the blame game. An inventory of supplies used on the trucks is not done resulting in additional operating cost, no clear accountability exist, technology is not being utilized properly, there are issues with the insurer, and the company is not quite sure where their wage package stacks up against their competition but have serious growth plans, but these are the major performance shortfalls.
Last month I started them on the road to considering there company values and developing a statement that would encapsulate what the peoples common beliefs were when it came to being an active, contributing part of a business. People somehow see this process as being a little to warm and cuddly for the big bad trucking industry, to bad because it’s not, it is the best way for companies to effect the change that comes with growth, FHE is starting down this path; I’ll keep you updated.
While they work on a Value Statement their President and I went on to the next effort with FHE, which was to ask him to produce/create a company organizational chart, this interesting exercise will usually give an insight as to where the holes are in most companies. They had not done this before so it took a week or so and in the meanwhile we also sent out a template for the senior people in the company to fill out that would reveal exactly what they did on a daily basis and what they perceived their responsibilities to be. This is the process used for creating role descriptions.
When you look at what it takes run solid business in this or any other sector and it always starts with people, good solid folks in key managerial areas for trucking it’s Operations, Sales, Maintenance, Administration and of course Safety. If a company is weak in any of these areas they are not as successful as they should be, they will be vulnerable, and at risk, guarantee it! If you have been at this for any length of time you can also easily and quickly nail down the 2-5 things that are critical for each of these positions to be successful. There will always be a little variance with each company, but usually not much as is the case with FHE who are in a highly specialized niche’.
For instance if you were to define the responsibilities of a Safety Manager in any company they would include critical items such as ensuring that health and safety initiatives meet or exceed legislative requirements and corporate policies. This person would implement driver training and orientation programs to ensure drivers meet the company’s professional standards, make sense. Add to that this person would also support the companies’ fleet size requirements through effective hiring and retention of professional drivers and is responsible for being the leader in the achievement of established turnover rates. This is just a slim example of a minimum expectation of an individual’s necessary competence to fill the role of Safety Manager for a fleet this size, in addition there are other competencies that I don’t have space for that are equally as important.
Through this exercise my hope for FHE is that they recognize where they are now and how they got there, then ask themselves where they want to get to and do they have the bench strength to get where they want to get to. These are all very hard discussion to have, especially if you mix in friends and relatives into the senior manager mix. It’s very hard to take the face off the role but if a company is determined to grow to the next level these discussions have to happen. Not doing this can result in a company in constant turmoil, if for example you expect your company to grow by 20% in the coming year and you don’t do some preparation for that additional volume, it will be into the fan on a regular basis like it is now at FHE.
The folks at FHE are starting to see that change is coming, this also needs to be managed, change will scare the bejesus out of most people and in order to elevate the fear the company needs to informing people what is going on and why. Some people just wont change, back when I used to do more public speaking on corporate change I used to tell the story of Bob’s these weren’t people who were born with the name Robert these were folks who bobbed their heads in acceptance and then just went back to their roles as if nothing was any different. After a period of no more than six months into the changes at my old company the only Bob’s that were left on the management team were actually born with the name Robert.
So as we work through the role description piece I am going to suggest to the leadership of FHE that they get together and decide what the best way to communicate to the rest of the company. What message do they want to communicate, what should the frequency of the communication be, who will be the champion or leader of the effort etc. I have always said that if you have two people in an office there will be a rumor mill, which is great if you recognize that, so why not control it and fill it full of the good stuff people do.
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