I started off the year questioning whether new technology being adopted by the trucking industry can have a positive effect on safety if it increases the amount of stress on a driver?
I moved on to the driver shortage and its effect on an aging driver pool. Last month I wrote about incentive programs for drivers. The common factor in my columns this year has been the time pressure I feel as a driver and how new technology, heavy workloads, and the actions of others affect it.
Add in the time demands of my personal life and it’s not surprising that I’m left feeling fatigued and stressed out. So what actions can I take on a daily basis to cope with these time pressures? It’s not within my circle of influence to make these time pressures go away, but I can find ways to cope with the resulting stress, it’s effect on my wellbeing, and have a positive influence on the people that make decisions affecting my time.
The best thing I find I can do is to take pride in what I do each and every day; pride in the sense of the pleasure and satisfaction I take in my profession. Taking pride in my skills and experience is one of the most powerful ways to have a positive influence, not only on my own attitude but on the level of respect I receive from my peers, my employer, the general public, and customers.
When you earn respect for the level of professionalism, skill, and effort you bring to your work each day, the people you deal with place a much higher value on your time as a result. It’s a simple and powerful way to increase my influence over others whose decisions or actions have a direct effect on how my days play out.
There are three simple ways I believe you can show off your professionalism as a commercial driver: show pride in your ride and the company you work for; show pride in your driving skills; and show pride in the level of customer service you offer. Showing pride in your ride and speaking in a positive way about the people you work for or the company you represent (that might be yourself) always gets peoples’ attention in a positive way. This is not a difficult thing to do. Other drivers notice, the company you are signed on with recognizes you as someone with a ‘positive’ attitude, as do your customers, and you carry a positive image down the highway in the eyes of the general public and enforcement.
Showing pride in how you drive is the best way to get positive attention from the travelling public. Courtesy is something that is contagious. If pride in driving skill becomes a standard for all drivers within the company you work for, pretty soon that big company logo travelling down the road earns a whole new level of respect from all drivers.
How you drive determines your safety rating, safety bonuses and reputation as a professional driver within your own company, again, earning you respect.
How you drive determines whether the freight gets to the customer in one piece and on time. How you drive is the determining factor in how you are judged by other commercial drivers and all levels of enforcement.
Showing pride in the level of customer service you offer is an area that can have the greatest overall impact on your available time and the value others place on it.
Service, after all, is the product that we are actually providing to shippers and receivers. If you do a dedicated run or local work, the ability to call on the same businesses repeatedly and deal with the same people week after week is a huge advantage when it comes to using your time efficiently.
Stress is reduced when you know where you are going and with whom you are dealing. You are able to factor in the knowledge you gain from experience and know when to show up, when not to show up, how to access difficult facilities and so on.
There is also a great feeling in getting a pat on the back in the form of a simple and genuine thank-you from the people you deal with on a regular basis.
That’s something I missed when I was doing open board work. If you do open board work your company name will go a long way in getting you looked after when your fellow drivers take the same pride as you do in their daily responsibilities.
So taking pride in what you do may not solve all the day-to-day problems or eliminate all the obstacles but in the long run it can pay big dividends.