1. Unique Actions for Specific Behaviors
A Driver with a tendency to speed and a Driver that consistently has a poor attitude with Supervisors may both need professional development plans. Although both Drivers are exhibiting unacceptable behavior, the plans to improve these behaviors must be targeted to each specific need in order to successfully help improve each Driver’s performance.
Step 1 for your PDP is to make sure you have targeted actions for each specific negative behavior. Some of these targeted actions may be needed for these specific behaviors:
- Drivers frequently late to work
- Drivers exhibiting frequent speeding / hard braking / aggressive driving
- Drivers with HR issues
- Drivers that frequently argue with co-workers / Supervisors / customers
- Multiple citations / violations
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for each PDP just because the steps are different. In fact, you can start by creating a template for each PDP and fill in appropriate steps for each plan.
Example PDP Template:
Week 1 Steps:
- Initial Driver Discussion
- Initial Ride-a-long
- Assign training(s) to be completed by end of PDP
Weeks 2 & 3 Steps (Safety/Terminal Manager or Supervisor 1):
- Two Phone / In Person / Message Touchpoints per week
Weeks 2 & 3 Steps (Safety/Terminal Manager or Supervisor 2):
- One Phone/In Person Touchpoints per week
Week 4 Steps:
- Meeting to Review Training(s) / Discuss Program / Review Goals Met
- Final Ride-a-long to Review Performance
2. Identifying Goals
Once you have a plan in place for each unacceptable behavior, you will want to make sure you outline each plan’s measurable goals for both the Driver on the plan and the Supervisors and Managers conducting the plan. For each type of PDP, you can prescribe specific topics, outcomes, and milestones for your Driver and also your Supervisors, so all parties can be held accountable for their progress.
When a Driver is being put onto a PDP, they should be thoroughly walked through the following:
- Why they are being put on the plan
- The steps within the plan that lead to success
- The final goals and objectives for their performance improvement
- I.e. completing training, having attended/taken part in all meetings, successfully completed final ride-a-long, and demonstrated proven improvement
Answering initial questions or concerns for a Driver will help avoid any future confusion, while also hopefully obtaining Driver buy-in for the plan. Driver buy-in can be best achieved by thoroughly explaining each step of the process and how the goals are both realistic and attainable for the Driver. It’s also important to reiterate the Driver’s importance to the company and how their safety is important to the company’s overall success. This helps frame the need for the plan in order to keep them as a valuable and trusted team member.
The Supervisors or Managers in charge of a Driver’s PDP also have steps and goals just like the Driver. They should equally be committed to the successful implementation and improvement process of the PDP.
The goals for Supervisors and Managers may include the following:
- Complete weekly touchpoints on-time
- Have an agenda/outline for each touchpoint/training
- Have additional materials/tools to help Drivers that aren’t meeting their weekly goals
3. Each PDP Should be Task Oriented
While carrying out a performance improvement plan, the two most important pieces are that each PDP should be both task oriented and time bound. You might have noticed in the template above, each week has a specific number of tasks assigned to specific people. This is vital to having a successful PDP.
Say you are going on a five day road trip across the country, and you have the option to take a paper map or a GPS device. With just the map, you have a destination (or a goal) and a starting point; it is up to you to figure out which route to take. You have no idea whether one way will allow you to make it in five days, leaving the door open to potentially getting lost or delayed along on the way. With the GPS device, however, you are given the optimal route, allowing you to know exactly how long it will take you, and what turn-by-turn directions (steps) along the way will get you there.
Setting a goal with no directions on how to get there might help the occasional Driver achieve success, but most will easily get lost and fall short of the objectives. Equip your Drivers with a specific path to their own success if you want to get the best results.
With achievable weekly steps and goals, a Driver knows exactly how to successfully complete their PDP from the very first day. Every meeting/call/touchpoint should have an agenda and subgoals to be completed by the Drivers and their Supervisors. If a subgoal or agenda is not fully met, the Supervisor knows exactly what to provide the Driver at that time to keep them on the road to success.
4. Each PDP Should be Time Bound
Lastly, it is critical for a performance improvement plan to be time bound. In the template above, we see a 4-week plan as an example. This time frame may vary for your fleet or even for certain PDPs, but it is important that it is fully spelled out exactly how long the plan will run. For example, Driver A exhibited excessive speeding alerts on their telematics system. Upon initiation of his speeding PDP, he must do the following during his 4-week period:
- Complete a consecutive 4 week period with no speeding alerts or violations
- Attend all weekly scheduled calls/meetings
- Complete all assigned trainings
- Demonstrate improvement during final ride-a-long (final week)
By having each PDP be time bound, a Driver has a complete understanding of their goals for improvement and the Supervisors have a better ability to track progress to help guide the Driver to success.
The key to the optimal performance improvement plan is to structure things so that there is no possibility for surprises. Every step is carefully outlined and tracked along the duration of the PDP. Drivers and Supervisors know exactly what their end-goals are, the steps necessary for success, and when they need to be completed by. Conversely, both parties also have a complete understanding of the consequences should they not meet the stated requirements of the PDP.
With a clear outline on a time basis, agreed upon goals, and realistic and required steps to reach those goals, Supervisors give their Drivers the best chance to successfully complete PDP’s and maintain their role as a trusted and safe Driver within their fleets.