Want to fix your business – take someone new under your wing

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In last month’s column I talked about the professional driver and how professionalism is a continuum along which all drivers are at varying degrees.

It’s worth noting that no particular point on the continuum is necessarily better than any other point – as long as a driver is striving to attain the highest degree of professionalism.

Which brings up an interesting question, what role does mentoring have in promoting professionalism in today’s trucking industry?

Without a doubt, in the older days of trucking (which weren’t that long ago) there was very little recognition given to driving schools and the vast majority of drivers out there learned though a process of mentorship.

Even today with most new drivers coming from some sort of driving school, there are many companies still requiring rookies to go with a seasoned driver/driver trainer for a couple of weeks or so. This makes good sense.

Any psychologist will tell you that individuals become like the people they associate with. So if a driver is to improve their skill and acquire the proper motivation, thought processes and habits necessary for today’s truckers, it is important that they associate with better drivers who have more experience.

In other words, if you as a driver desire to advance along the continuum of professionalism it is important that you develop friendships – and/or mentorships – with individuals that are further along the continuum than you may be.

I know for myself personally that had it not been for a number of individuals in my life with enough patience to teach me what I needed to know at the early stages of my career, chances are I would not be in this industry today.

Thus for the sake of our industry, to say nothing of our economy, it is important for the more seasoned and experienced drivers to spread some of their “seasoning.”

By this I do not mean telling tall tales in the cafe about how you can do it better and faster than the next guy. But rather when you witness a driver having difficulty in any area, and you know of a more productive or efficient way of accomplishing the task, then feel free to share your wealth of knowledge.

A helping hand is almost always welcomed. In offering to help you are often becoming a mentor.

Mentoring can actually come in a number of different facets. The most common form would be similar to the one described above where there is an actual exchange of technique or sharing of information.

Therefore it is vitally important for professionals to act in accordance with what they hold to be true, because you never know who is watching.

The third, and probably the least popular, form of mentoring is accountability.

It is imperative that we as drivers hold one another accountable for our actions. We all make mistakes and patience and understanding should be the cutting edge of accountability.

However ignoring another driver’s careless or reckless actions is not only irresponsible it is also unprofessional.

Key up the mic and as politely as possible, give the offending party a piece of your mind.

Remember, people are creatures of conformity, and if 99 per cent of truck drivers were professional then the rookie’s belligerent attitude would have a very short life span.

Unfortunately, we were all inexperienced at one time or another and undoubtedly were the recipient of some form of mentoring.

As a rookie, finding a driver “more” professional than yourself is a fairly easy task since the vast majority of the drivers in the field would ideally in most cases be further along the continuum of professionalism than any rookie.

However, the more a driver becomes an experienced professional the more difficult it may be to find a new mentor.

At this stage learning tends to switch from just a few select individuals to learning tips or tricks of the trade from many persons and filling in the gaps…

Wherever you as a truck driver may be on the continuum of professionalism, I would encourage you to not become complacent. Judge yourself according to the highest ideal of professionalism, not according to all the other drivers on the road.

They are simply in the same general vicinity as you, but only you can decide to be professional.

Dave Holleman is an over-the-road owner/operator and can be reached at daveholleman@aol.com.


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