Create a Transition
Transition new drivers into the job and their usage of the company truck. In the process, protect your investment by assuring they have retained what they learned in orientation. The most practical way to do this is by having an experienced driver trainer go with the driver on his or her first series of loads. This reinforces what was learned in orientation and gets the new driver off on a positive start. It is also one more opportunity to make sure the new driver is qualified and a good fit.
The driver manager (dispatcher) plays a key role in the transition process. Providing leadership and a helping hand makes a big difference to new employees. The driver manager should actively participate in a 30-day review of the new driver. This is another opportunity to demonstrate that the company and management care about how new employees are doing and what they think about their new job.
Reviews and Communication
The next step is to ensure the company provides ongoing reviews and periodic planned communications. Reviews should be scheduled and take place at least twice a year. Both reviews are two-way exchanges of performance and an opportunity for the driver to be heard. One of those reviews should coincide with their employment anniversary.
Reviews present an opportunity to establish accountability, exchange ideas, and recognize accomplishment and exceptional service. Employees want and appreciate knowing what is expected, how they are doing and what is needed for improvement.
Next, management should conduct routine group communications with drivers. These meetings should primarily be communication sessions about the company, current issues, the future, and how it all affects the driver. Safety and training can be a part of these meetings but these issues are secondary to the role of communications.
Effective driver meetings are not difficult. Like any other communication meeting they require good preparation and common sense. Prepare an agenda that includes items that concern the driver. The agenda will show how topics will be discussed as well as those items of interest to the company. Answer questions honestly and keep control by following the agenda. When you encounter unexpected questions, make a note to find an answer and follow up with the individual employee or cover the issue at the next meeting. Overall, drivers are better informed and realize that management indeed cares about what they think.
In the final installment of my 5-part series on driver retention I'm going to explain why I believe giving drivers with an opportunity to learn and grow through ongoing training and education is important to reducing turnover. I'll also give my final thoughts on why I think this is such an important issue for the trucking industry, but on that can be conquered.