Transportation Practice Leader & Associate Vice President
President, HNI Wisconsin
If you could get all your drivers to act as if they were part owners of your company, committed to strengthening your culture, what would that do to the bottom line? Realistically, most drivers will never have an equity stake in your company. But here are six actionable ideas that may help shift their thinking from employee to owner.
1.) Empower Your Drivers
Business owners make decisions every day that impact profit. Drivers also make decisions every day that impact profit — decisions on fuel, maintenance, route, and more. If drivers feel that they have your backing to operate their vehicles as profit centers, behavior and attitude may change, further strengthening your culture.
2.) Reward Superior Performance
A company owner has the opportunity to be rewarded for superior performance. If the company profit is large enough, maybe that reward is a vacation or a new car. If drivers are rewarded financially for making the company money, it could totally change the game for their decision-making process. Unnecessary idle time could go away. Out-of-route miles, which drain profit, could shrink dramatically if drivers know there's money coming into or going out of their pocket.
3.) Track the Work
Company owners get feedback every day on decisions they make. They can see how a particular decision impacts the bottom line. Do we consistently share with drivers how they impact the bottom line? What we track needs to be meaningful to drivers, and what's measured need to be under their direct control. The numbers need to be validated and made to feel fair.
4.) Share "The Why"
Explain to drivers why it is important to conserve fuel, drive safe, and be an ambassador of the company, among other things. Then explain how it affects them in their pay and benefits. No matter what, drivers will find "The Why." It's up to you to make sure it's "The Why" that truly matters for your organization. Alignment on "The Why" goes a long way toward strengthening your culture.
5.) Let Them Lead
Give your drivers a chance to get out in front and train, speak, and share. Have a meeting with rotating leaders. During orientation, throw down the challenge of personal leadership and training. Consider that you must master material before you can provide training for it. But it's likely some drivers already have mastered the material. Lean on them to share the knowledge.
6.) Fight Sabotage
It's critical to make sure your dispatchers think like owners, too! One dispatcher with a chip on his shoulder can spoil all of your hard work. We have seen "loose cannon" dispatchers abuse drivers. The result is a negative culture where turnover takes hold. The importance of corporate culture can't be overstated!
At HNI, we believe that culture eats strategy for breakfast. Our question for you is: Was your strategy on the menu this morning? A culture of ownership at all levels of your organization will keep your strategy uneaten (so to speak), and your bottom line growing for everyone's benefit.