From journalists to researchers to marriage counselors, most people agree that open communication is crucial for a strong relationship. Ultimately, shared understanding of each person�s goals, needs and preferences forms the foundation for a lasting bond, whether the relationship is between spouses, friends or an employer and employee.
Within the transportation industry, increasing safety regulation and freight levels may create a greater demand for experienced, professional drivers over the next year � so carriers will have to focus even more on limiting driver churn. An inexpensive and effective way to do so is by making sure the realities of a job (time away from home, compensation, etc.) match the way it is described during the interview process. In my September 20 post, �When Trucking Freight, What Do Drivers Really Want?,� I began the discussion on why communication is the key to finding and retaining quality truckers � and how to understand exactly what potential employees are looking for.
Today, we continue this discussion, and focus on ensuring everyone is on the same page, before a driver is hired.
When interviewing a trucker, the first step to quality communication is listening to what he says � and determining whether his expectations or financial requirements match what you can provide. At this point, you must tell a potential hire your organization�s complete story: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give them every opportunity to ask for the details. Don�t hide anything; it�s only fair everything be divulged.
Most people don�t like surprises that have a negative effect on their income, or promises of home time that never come to fruition. The biggest complaint heard from drivers is they are given incomplete information during the recruiting interview. In fact, not explaining potential surprises and your company�s policies during recruiting is one of the largest causes of driver turnover today. Sometimes, the recruiter is telling the trucker what he thinks the trucker wants to hear. Or the trucker only heard what he wanted to hear. Regardless of how the misunderstanding occurs, there�s nothing worse than a driver leaving his last position, only to discover new information in orientation that makes it clear the company new isn�t a match. The carrier ends up with a driver who feels trapped and duped, dynamics that are not good for developing a quality business relationship and certain to result in turnover or underperformance. Better to weed out incompatible drivers in interviews than waste the time and money on hiring someone who will not be a good fit in the long-term.
Driver retention begins during the recruiting interview. The more information exchanged by driver and recruiter during the initial hiring process, the better the driver understands and accepts the circumstances and idiosyncrasies of your company�s operations and procedures. Think of it more like an investigation and research into the wants, needs and requirements of both your company and the prospective driver. The more knowledgeable you are about the trucker�s goals � and the trucker is about your company�s methods and policies � the stronger the relationship will be.
One good way to avoid misunderstandings in interviews is to provide the recruiter and the potential trucker with a Question & Answer (Q&A) sheet. Both individuals must fill in the blanks with the information they learn about the other in the interview. At the completion of the interview, the recruiter and trucker should exchange these sheets and go over the answers to be sure nothing is misunderstood.
When the trucker and recruiter have reviewed and corrected any misunderstandings on their Q&A sheets, each of them signs his respective answers to verify their truth and validity. After copies are made, the trucker and recruiter should review the information privately to determine the compatibility of the trucker to the company and the company to the trucker.
Sure, quick interviews may seem more efficient at first, but hiring the wrong people costs much more time and money down the road. Remember, you�re developing a relationship with each trucker � investing the time to honestly communicate with potential hires will enable your company to retain the best employees for your company. At a time when driver shortages are on the horizon, carriers can�t afford the twisting, turning, rolling path of frustration and service failures that come with driver churn. By ensuring the recruiter and driver are on the same page from day one, you are creating the honest communication foundation upon which valuable, long-term business association are built. You can establish better customer service and better profits for your small motor carrier by hiring compatible truckers who feel they haven�t just found job, but a real trucking home.
Until next time, good loads and good roads, everyone.
Timothy Brady � 2010