I log a lot of windshield time. I’ve shared the road with more semis than I can count. But I had never been in a semi.
And that sounds like an important piece of the puzzle to be missing. And maybe a bit out of touch.
I was paired with a rock star of a driver who was key to helping me fully digest the driver experience. Here’s more of what I learned by cruising with Leroy for a day:
Top performing company – from a driver’s perspective
I look at my client’s trucking operation as elite. They’ve executed long term, profitable growth, they have happy drivers & high retention, they excel at employee engagement despite the long-distance nature of the industry and they have an enthusiastic and diverse team of leaders. And most importantly they’re never satisfied and are constantly chasing their next level.
Time & again we’ve asked them what their secret sauce is. Time & again they say it’s because they treat their employees like family. But almost every company we meet with says they treat their employees like family! So what does it mean here where it’s produced such impressive results?
I asked Leroy. And then I asked dispatch. And then I asked a few more people buzzing around the joint. And after all that questioning, I’m going to switch from calling it “family” to calling it a culture of respect and empowerment. Because creating that is far more difficult and differentiating.
In looking at Leroy’s situation, they’ve given him a channel for his opinions to be heard in the safety committee, they’ve given him a channel to be creative and challenged through the employee communication videos and they’ve empowered him to be a leader as he trains and evaluates new hires. No one has an entire fleet of Leroys, but there are certainly pieces of that model that can be universal to your drivers.
And maybe it’s something as simple as someone in dispatch starting a conversation with, “how are you?” or “how’s your family?” or “what’s wrong?”. Maybe it’s just a feeling a driver has that he’s being treated like a person instead of a truck number and a load going from point A to B. All the people I talked to here had this sense that they belong to a culture where everyone can be heard and respected and empowered to do their thing.
I asked one of the opps & dispatch guys why he got into trucking. His answer said more about the culture that they’ve built there than the actual job he was doing. He said that if the owner of this company had been in the grocery business, he’d be in grocery too. If you can empower your employees and treat them with respect, it’s incredible how they can rally behind the mission.
There are a lot of different ways to be involved in the transportation industry and for many, you probably don’t need to get inside of a truck to find success. But, boy does it arm you with valuable perspective.
It’s no secret how crucial the trucking industry is to keeping the country afloat. Not many people have the opportunity to see the work that drivers put into that tall order – the amount of focus and dedication it requires to own their tremendous responsibility. What a treat it was to see it first hand and truly be in trucking.