With surging freight demand, but fewer drivers having entered the labor force in the past year than is typical, fleets are feeling the pressure to retain and develop drivers. For this reason, many fleets are doing everything they can to engage drivers and bring them into their organization’s culture.
What many fleets haven’t realized, however, is that engaging drivers is only one way to generate buy-in to their fleet’s culture. There is another engagement lever fleets must be pulling on right now to drive retention: improving their driver managers’ engagement.
Driver Manager Engagement is Crucial for Overall Retention Rates
A fleet’s culture starts at the top, but it trickles down to drivers through their managers. Driver managers are the front-line representatives of leadership to most drivers, so their representation of a fleet’s positive values is crucial to ensure drivers buy into their fleet’s culture.
There is direct evidence backing this up. An analysis of 45,000 Qualcomm messages between drivers and dispatchers for just one carrier found that when dispatchers swear or are rude to drivers, it distracts them and negatively impacts their performance. It’s important to coach managers on displaying positive behaviors, or else drivers won’t believe leadership when they discuss their fleet’s positive core values.
How to Engage Your Driver Managers
Driver managers need to be bought into a fleet’s culture just as much as drivers and that process starts at the top. Senior management and executives at top-performing fleets often engage with their front-line managers regularly and purposefully—especially those in management training—and push out weekly messages about driver engagement, identifying drivers at risk of leaving, and safety. They may also hold monthly meetings with their front-line managers to discuss these topics.
Additionally, it’s crucial that fleets continuously coach their driver managers. Fleets can assign quarterly classes that focus on general management skills or safety procedures. Some fleets even utilize year-round coaching, where each manager is given a short, 15-minute video about driver management once per week to sharpen their skills or refresh their understanding of a topic.
The Best Tool for Standardizing Management Behavior
While it may seem hard to implement the above steps, fortunately, there is technology available that can help.
The Idelic Safety Suite® is the most comprehensive driver management platform in the trucking industry and is the premier tool for coaching drivers and standardizing management behavior.
With Safety Suite’s Task Module, fleet leadership gains insight into management behavior, obtaining a full-spectrum overview of management interactions with their fleet’s drivers. Additionally, the Task Module helps managers form more meaningful relationships with their drivers and build a culture of retention at their fleet. Managers can automate reminders to touch base with each driver and ensure engagement with their fleet stays high.