Becoming a truck driver is a career path that has welcomed a variety of backgrounds, interests, and personalities. Today, you can find an array of different types of drivers inside the cab of your trucks. Diversity within your fleet comes with the challenge of rewarding each driver for their performance and safety with what will help motivate them to be best.
Despite where your drivers come from, there are several common personas where most drivers will fit in well. Understanding these personalities within your fleet is valuable, and allows you to better cater to what resonates with your drivers. The most typical types of drivers found in every fleet include:
These drivers want to be on top. They will shoot for every award offered, and fight tooth and nail to be the best.
The awards themselves aren’t the most crucial element for motivating these drivers. “Strivers” will get excited for small, non-monetary awards as long as they accentuate their achievements. Their motivation stems from their personal need for success and internal acknowledgment of achievement.
You won’t have to worry about these drivers often. However, you’ll want to make sure that new safety milestones are always within reach to keep them motivated and pushing them to be at their best.
DO — Ensure your Safety Program has both short and long-term goals to keep drivers motivated
DON’T — Invest in expensive monetary awards if the recognition itself is enough
Similarly to the “Strivers”, the “Boasters” of the trucking industry also want to be the best, but their motivation comes from external incentives. These drivers care most about their own personal image above most other things.
“Boasters” often have the cleanest record and best-kept truck, but they usually expect recognition for it. These drivers don’t particularly care about what the awards are, as long as they are getting attention from management and their coworkers. Driver Award Banquets are a great way to motivate them and are the perfect forum to illustrate their achievements in front of their family and fellow drivers.
On the other hand, this type of driver struggles with criticism. If they aren’t doing something up to par, they don’t want to be told about it and may not respond well with the corrective action assigned to them. The best way to deal with these drivers is in private; do not confront or humiliate them in front of their peers.
DO — Host Driver Award Banquets and encourage drivers to bring their loved ones
DON’T — Confront these drivers in front of their peers when not necessary
The Hard Worker
Some types of drivers don’t need extra attention, but they work hard based strictly on principle. The “Hard Worker” shows up on time, does their job well, and keeps customers happy. They rarely reach out to management with complaints or blame the company for a preventable incident. Generally, they prefer to get their work done and avoid stirring up trouble.
If your Safety Team has a way to track fleet performance such as driver performance with a comprehensive safety solution such as the Idelic Safety Suite, you will find that these drivers have good safety scores, but are often not at the top of your fleet’s leaderboard. They might not be very interested in Safety Award Programs or other incentives, but you’ll be able to rely on them to be a safe driver nonetheless.
This persona is likely your favorite type of driver. They are easy to manage and do their jobs well. Thankfully, the “Hard Workers” can account for more than half of most fleets.
DO — Consider a method to track fleet performance and better monitor drivers that keep to themselves
DON’T — Expect these drivers to actively participate in driver award programs, they may need alternative motivation
The Penny Pincher
Money talks loudest for some drivers. “Penny Pinchers” don’t often care for non-monetary incentives or recognition for the work they have done; they just want to get paid.
These drivers may not have any personal ties to the fleet they drive for, and consequently, do not make good representatives of your fleet if they promote it. They also don’t get very excited about the unique Safety Award Programs or Driver Banquets your fleet may offer. However, in many cases, these drivers do get their individual responsibilities done.
It does not take creativity to motivate these drivers; A cash bonus or monetary reward will push them to have a safe driving record. Family-oriented drivers value fleets that offer college scholarships which lessen the financial burden in a household may also be a good motivator.
DO — Offer cash bonuses for safe driving
DON’T — Rely strictly on recognition-based awards for these drivers
No matter how robust your Safety Award Program is, some drivers are just never satisfied. Regardless of the initiatives you put in place, it just isn’t enough to get them excited. Even when things are at their best, this persona can still find something negative to focus on and complain about to management.
If you award a “Grouch” a bonus, they may not think it’s enough money. If they win an award, they may think they deserve something better.
“The Grouch” might not think that a mistake they make or accident they cause is their fault, and often shift blame to others or their safety managers. These drivers are the most toxic persona because they will bring others down with them, and sell their false ideas to other drivers by spreading misinformation.
DO — Ask troubled drivers how you can make their work experience better
DON’T — Allow these drivers to misinform others in your fleet
Quickly Identifying Award Winners
Safety Managers learn to understand and identify the various driver personas on a case-by-case basis, and once you get a grasp on what is most important to each individual, you can start to put measures in place to help incentivize and motivate them in the best way. No matter how drivers may portray themselves, even the most negative drivers are thankful for positive attention in the long run.
A common reason many safety programs fall short is because they fail to adequately track driver performance and choose rewards that continually motivate over time.
Safety Award Programs are powerful tools to improve fleet safety and driver retention. If your drivers are getting close to a safety milestone or bonus, do you think they’ll be prone to make a mistake or leave in search of a different fleet? Probably not. Having an understanding of what type of motivation resonates with your drivers is key and the first step to creating long-lasting safe drivers within your fleet.
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