Honesty and Dignity Go a Long Way in Recruitment Efforts

TORONTO — “When those young people come in, we need to stand tall — we’re truckers.”

That was Dan Baker last week at the Canadian Recruiting and Retention Conference, talking to a room of trucking company recruiters.

The 74-year-old Texan, whose father was a trucker, has been consulting trucking companies for over 40 years — from culture and retention to generational differences and the driver shortage, Baker touched on a wide-array of subjects affecting the trucking industry.

His main message, however, was reminding recruiters how far honesty and treating people with dignity and respect goes in this industry, something that can help your recruiting and retention issues.

“I like recruiters that lay it on the line for me — be real, be human,” he stressed.

That realness and humanity is especially important with the new generation coming into the industry. “This new kid is recruitment proof — they’ve heard the one liners, all of it. You don’t have anything new that other people don’t.”

But it’s also important to treat your older drivers that way, too. What will make young people attracted to your company, Baker said, are the drivers that love your company.

“How many of our drivers perceive that we look down our noses at them,” Baker asked, the audience nodding in agreement. “Other people will respond to you in terms of how they perceive how you perceive them,” he said.

That means “getting out of your own way” and learning to listen and remember that the driver has a family, he said. “The challenge today is not just numbers — it’s ourselves.

“People don’t remember what you say, they remember how you made them feel.”

It’s about listening and mentoring. “Kicking butt doesn’t work anymore — we are mentors and coaches — we can teach them skills and they are smart,” Baker said of the new generation.

“How many people got 15 jobs on their resumes?” Baker asked the recruiters. “You can stop that by bringing them into the family, by seeing what’s special inside them.”

The new generation learns from their mistakes, he said. The older generational has an amazing work ethic. “If we could cross-pollinate those two, we’d have something special.”

And at the end of the day, the job for anyone working at a trucking company is to get drivers “on the road, get them paid, and get them home, with as little downtime and humiliation as possible.”

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.