In commercial driving, a good relationship between fleet managers and drivers is essential. Clear communication is critical for the safety, productivity, and success of both the driver and the fleet. Creating an open dialogue isn’t just beneficial for management, it also makes drivers feel valued, which improves employee retention. Wondering how you can make this connection better? Here are Commercial Truck Trader’s six tips for improving communication with your drivers.
1. Emphasize the Importance of Good Communication
Commercial drivers can be scattered, either locally or across the country, so thorough and effective communication can be a challenge. The first step in improving communication with drivers is to stress the importance of intentional conversation by setting rules and serving as an example for your drivers. When you hire a new driver, encourage them to ask questions during the training process to get them off on the right foot. Schedule regular check-ins with drivers to find out their successes and challenges. Adopt an “open door policy” and allow team members to reach out informally too. Encourage drivers to exchange thoughts and ideas with each other, not just dispatch and management. Finally, find ways to reward employees who communicate often and efficiently.
2. Make Phone and Video Calls
CB radios used to be the most common method of communication for drivers, but now we can take advantage of the technological advances right at our fingertips and in our pockets. Most truck drivers have their cell phones on or nearby them 24/7. If you can’t get in touch with your driver on the phone, send them a text. The text message can either be read to them by their hands-free device or once they’ve pulled over, they can read it themselves. Text messaging can be the fastest and most reliable way to update a driver of an unexpected situation. On the flipside, they can also text or call you if they need support.
Video calls are a great way to get face-to-face time with drivers. This form of communication adds a personal touch. Smartphones, one of our eight essential gadgets for truck drivers, have built-in or free apps for making video calls. While video chatting might not happen as often as calling or texting, it’s important to have this type of interaction every once in a while to check in on drivers.
3. Check In with Drivers Between Their Routes
The time between your drivers’ routes is the perfect opportunity to get some personal time with them. Afterall, nothing beats face-to-face interaction. Whether it’s a local driver you see every day or an OTR trucker who you only see every few weeks, those personal interactions can make your employee feel more appreciated. This can be a quick check in, official evaluation, or a more in-depth conversation over lunch.
4. Utilize Social Media
Create a sense of company community by using social media. If your business has its own page or group, post photos of your team and celebrate their accomplishments and milestones online. This allows the drivers to feel more connected to fellow employees and builds a sense of pride in their work.
Facebook groups and other online forums are an excellent way for drivers to chat with others in the industry. These virtual communities are a great place to ask and answer questions, discuss industry news, and talk about personal interests with people from all over the world.
5. Understand the Driver’s Needs
On the road, drivers often face difficult conditions that are unique to this industry. The most important thing any fleet manager can do is to put themselves in their driver’s shoes and understand their needs. Commercial drivers deal with stress on the road brought on by traffic, weather, and other sudden changes. If a driver reacts to that stress, as a manager, don’t take it personally. Work with the driver by letting them know that you hear their concerns and try to help them through it. It’s important to lead with empathy.
6. Become an Effective Listener
It’s one thing to simply hear the problems of your drivers. It’s another to follow that up with actual change. Give your drivers an outlet to voice their concerns. Take their feedback seriously and use it as an opportunity to make their work lives better and improve your business. Show drivers that what they think matters. This can make them more engaged, increase their commitment to the company, and further improve communication.
Conclusion: Good communication is key to making drivers feel appreciated and making sure your business runs more smoothly. Fleet managers that establish an open line of communication with their employees are sure to create a more positive work environment and retain their drivers. Remember, the success of the drivers is your success, so utilize these tips and find the right tool for you to create more effective communication.