Dan Baker has spent a career working with trucking companies, drivers, and driver managers to help humanize the industry. Here is a summary of a recent conversation we had with Dan in anticipation of his talk at The DE-RISKATHON in Milwaukee.
What differentiates companies that drivers love and those they don't?
People don't remember what you say or what you do. They remember how you make them feel. Does it feel good to go to work in the morning? Do they like who they are working with?
Some companies elicit great feelings because of the way they treat drivers, customers and employees. These companies focus on having a personal connection with everyone. This is the only way I know to do it. And it makes a big difference.
People respond based on how they perceive that you perceive them. Every interaction counts.
How are generations impacting the trucking industry?
For the first time in the history of the world, we have 5 generations of people working and driving trucks at the same time. This has never happened before, and it's increasing the tension in the workplace.
What's particularly tough is that the older drivers love to talk, are emotional, and have their "heads up" while driving down the road. However, more and more their dispatchers and managers are part of the millennial generation and they don't see the need for long conversations in place of "getting things done efficiently."
How is technology straining the relationship with drivers?
The rise of technology has coincided with the rise of the younger generations in management roles. These technologies put a focus on efficiency and scale, which is a stark difference from what Baby Boomers are used to.
Unfortunately, that leaves drivers sitting in a truck "eyes up" focused on the road and in total solitude. They love to talk, connect, and tell stories, but that is becoming increasingly difficult when their driver manager is used to being "heads down" and focused on their computer.
This younger generation, if they are going to manage these older generations, needs to be trained on the human factor. Failing to do so can lead to a lot of driver dissatisfaction and eventually high driver turnover.
What are your 5 Rules of The Road for drivers and management that you've learned over the years?
"The bigger you get, the further you get from the people who got you there."
"The more things you pay attention to, the less you pay attention to each one."
"The first thing you think about tends to be the last thing you just heard."
"The more times you repeat a function, the less important it becomes. This is why sometimes the most experienced drivers make unfathomable mistakes. Eventually, you just take it for granted and that's the most dangerous time for both drivers and leaders."
"The better you get at doing what you're good at, the less time you have for it."
Listen to the full conversation:
See Dan in-person at The DE-RISKATHON in Milwaukee: