Extensive research by Michigan State University has shown that traditional hiring methods only provide a 14% likelihood of a successful hire. This means that more than eight out of ten times you will not get the right person for the job. That gives you, if you are lucky, two good drivers out of the ten you hired.
This being true, why do we as an industry keep doing more of the same, over and over, believing we'll get a different, better result? After all, isn't that exactly what Albert Einstein gave as the definition of insanity?
To borrow the title of a movie, A Perfect Storm has struck the trucking industry. The recession dropped capacity hard, causing many drivers to leave the industry. The "Baby Boomer" drivers (1946-1964) are at or near retirement, CSA is estimated to reduce the driver pool up to 5% and lastly, there is no farm system from which to pull new drivers. All this shouts that there will need to be dynamic and significant changes if new sources of drivers are to be developed.
The two questions that beg answers are:
- What can we do now?
- What can we do to break our "two out of ten" hiring cycle?
One answer lies in using the following two tools.
Tool One – Driver Profile
This technique begins with addressing the old saying, "You get what you look for". This means you must come to the hiring task with a great deal of objectivity. To accomplish this, you need to develop a very specific and clear profile of the type of driver you want to hire. This means creating a list of behaviors, skills, expertise and experience you want in a driver. Think of this task as developing a blueprint of the types of drivers you want to hire.
To accomplish this with objectivity you need to go beyond the basics to find the specifics that make up a quality driver. This will include: work ethic, commitment, communication skills, safety consciousness, manners and their ability to handle adversity.
An easy and proven method to discover these traits is to "talk with" your top 8 to 10 drivers. This needs to be a non-adversarial give-and-take session that will draw out of these men and women the characteristics you're looking for. Once you have these traits, use them to formulate questions you can use during the hiring process.
Tool Two – Tasks, Duties & Accountability Statement
More than 80 years of research leaves no doubt that people work best, are more productive and feel more fulfilled in their job when they have a comprehensive definition of what's expected of them. Think of it not simply as a job description, but a task, duties and accountability statement. The question then becomes, what exactly are the 12 to 24 elements that should make up such a statement at your company: types of freight hauled, lanes driven, safety regulations, log books (paper versus electronic), unloading and loading policies, hours of service, fleet/driver manager relations and electronic equipment on board just to list a few.
In developing your Tasks, Duties and Accountability Statement, be sure to cover what your firm defines as "the basics". It can be easy to "assume" everyone will just know what these elements are, but experience tells us that what's basic to one may not be basic to another.
The critical part of your tasks and duties job statement is to answer the driver's question "What makes your job offer better, more appealing, than the one I have?" This question means you must address issues far beyond the basics of good pay and health insurance. The core item drivers' focus on today is the possibility for a good work-life balance; things like consistent home time, are family needs addressed, awards or financial incentives for quality work and the possibility for a real career path.
The key is to complete a simple, paint-by-numbers picture that makes your offer tangible, believable and trustworthy in the eyes of the driver. There's one unbreakable rule, you must never over promise or lie. If you break this rule, word get go-out and good drivers will shun your company.
It's been said that one of the scariest words for an executive is "implementation", which simply means "to carry into effect or accomplish". Now's the time to move forward and start implementing the two tools I've presented in this blog post. The benefits will be many, but one benefit stands out above the rest - when implemented consistently, they will help you recruit more of the drivers you want and break that very expensive "two-out-of-ten" hiring cycle.