Data sharing, communication improve driver performance management

Recruiting, safety and operations teams should use communication and transparency to break down silos and boost driver performance management at fleets.

Picture of driver at wheel of truck.
(Photo: istock)

Amanda Schuier, director of employee engagement, Jetco Delivery, said driver managers at her company are involved in the recruiting process.

Addressing a webinar organized by Idelic on Thursday, she said, “We have jobs because of professional drivers and sometimes it is easy to lose focus of that.”

Different teams engaging with the driver must be consistent with their messaging, like “marching to the beat of the same drum,” said Hayden Cardiff, founder and chief innovation officer at Idelic.

Schuier highlighted the creation of personal development plans for drivers and setting milestones they must meet after orientation as part of integration into the company.

Safety and operations teams should have visibility into each other’s metrics and driver performance data, helping with retention, Cardiff said. Having teams in the same location can help in sharing data and breaking down communication barriers.

Expectations

Some common mistakes fleets make are misaligning expectations during the recruiting process and the improper handoff of expectations to the operations team.

Modesty and transparency are critical, even if that slows the recruiting process and involves more people. Schuier said sometimes drivers show up for orientation and say “this is not what the recruiter told me”.

Cardiff warned that some may rosy up the picture to better sell the job, but in the long run it may lead to lack of retention which costs fleets time and money to replace a driver. He added that drivers respect honesty, so when you sell them your culture, infuse it with a healthy dose of realism.

The onboarding process can be overwhelming for a driver. Integration into a fleet takes time. Cardiff said data shows most driver turnover takes place in the first 90 days. This could be because the fleets are not doing a good job in setting expectations.

Feedback

Feedback from new hires helps a company ensure polices are understood. Also, driver mentors must keep in touch with new employees, along with regular calls from the safety team.

Schuier said everyone – safety, operations, shop personnel, the employee engagement director – must be involved in new employee integration. A personal development plan helps with adding material down the road instead of overloading the driver with information during orientation.

Cardiff said some fleets fail to operationalize safety. There are always more people in operations teams than in the safety department.

“Talk to drivers, not at drivers.”

Amanda Schuier, director of employee engagement, Jetco Delivery

Schuier said safety is everyone’s job and all should work together. “Talk to drivers, not at drivers,” she said.

Cardiff suggested team members in operations should own driver key performance indicators, thus motivating them to oversee those aspects in performance of drivers. Driver managers may not be as well trained as a safety manager, but if they have the data, they can ask the right thing at the right time.

When coaching at-risk drivers, different people look at different events and he or she gets slapped on the wrist by a different person each time something happens.

Holistic view

Schuier said a holistic view must be taken of an incident. Was it a mistake or a reckless decision? The data being used may not paint a complete picture.

Cardiff added drivers get defensive if you coach them based on events. Offering to change behavior is more beneficial.

Don’t be afraid of trying new things, but focus on what drivers really want, Schuier said.

It is important to set expectations and then fulfill them. If needed, they can be reset along the way, Cardiff said.

Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at leo@newcom.ca


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