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Not all drivers are cut from the same cloth

What do drivers want? The simple answer is usually more money, better benefits. That's what just about every survey I've read on this topic says.

What do drivers want? The simple answer is usually more money, better benefits. That’s what just about every survey I’ve read on this topic says.

While no one would turn down a nice increase, I think motor carrier executives need to look deeper than that to understand what it takes to put the right people at the controls of their increasingly expensive moving assets and keep them there.

Assuming it’s just an issue of more money may simply leave us with higher paid drivers who still hop from job to job during the good times and continue to exit the industry in utter frustration during the bad times.

At the recent American Trucking Associations annual conference, I attended a session led by Ricardo Ramon and Susan Magrino from Caliper Research and what they had to say is worth repeating. Caliper conducts personality assessments for job placements and has done more than 3.5 million of them. It has also studied why drivers are leaving the industry. Ramon and Magrino believe job success and satisfaction has a lot to do with finding the person with the right personality for the job in the first place and that’s a connection the industry is not considering closely enough.

They say the most common hiring mistake is to find someone with the right skills but the wrong personal drivers and hire them on the assumption that you can change them with the right coaching, the right incentives, the right rewards, etc. They believe people are actually hard to change; their personalities are already hard set before they walk through your door. You can provide incentives but after a while they no longer serve as a motivator. In their own words: Job techniques can be taught; drive and motivation can’t be. The right drive and motivation are essential for success.

Caliper has researched the personalities of local, regional and long-haul drivers and found some significant differences. For example, local drivers tend to have higher sociability traits and enjoy dealing with clients. They can be more accommodating, pragmatic and do paperwork without resenting it. But they also want to know exactly what they’re supposed to do, want to feel comfortable on the job and don’t like to take risks.

Long-haul drivers on the other hand typically show more independence and are less accepting of company structure. They don’t feel as great a need to socialize as that’s not something that satisfies their ego. They are more like the lone wolf that can take the ball and run with it without a great amount of direction.

Hire someone with typical long-haul traits and stick him in a P&D city-type operation and you may find you have someone who is going to turn off your clients. Take someone with a personality more suited to local hauls and set him up for long stretches of highway work and you may find you turn off your employee.

If you are requiring them to do something that is not natural to them, they may not tell you about it but inside they will be feeling the pain. And two years is about the time for fatigue and stress to show up to a high enough degree that they decide to leave.

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