The competency of your driver workforce is dependent upon several factors. The first is having a good selection process to screen out bad drivers, as well as those applicants who don’t have the qualifications for a good fit in your operation. Next, there needs to be a sound training process to help drivers continually increase their skills, knowledge and performance. Even highly experienced truck drivers can boost their abilities and enhance performance through continual training.
To provide additional motivation, training can be combined with incentive programs to reward drivers for performance. Successful incentive programs pay bonuses regularly and frequently, set realistic goals and are simple to administer.
Driver performance and productivity management programs should incorporate behavior modification, along with economic considerations that might be used for inducing improved driver performance.
The objective here is twofold. First, you need to define the ways in which you are going to measure productivity. For instance, delivery accuracy, number of stops, time at stops, load size and revenue per month are measurements to consider.
Once this is done, the next step is to set your goals for productivity. This should be gradually increased over time to keep upping performance.
The subsequent step is to determine the current performance of each driver. Then meet with each driver to review their performance level and to educate them on the performance and productivity management program, focusing on opportunities for them to increase their earnings potential.
A more immediate and easy way to help improve driver performance is to deliver the message to drivers that they are an important asset to your operation and company.
When was the last time you went up to a driver, patted him on the back, and said: “I just wanted to tell you that you’re doing a great job.”
Consider the power of appreciation, which I believe is a very under-utilized tool. A lack of appreciation can cause reduced driver performance and productivity, plus promote a poor attitude. Sincere appreciation, on the other hand, has the complete opposite effect.
Showing gratitude doesn’t require much expense or effort. Simply saying “thank you” or “I appreciate your efforts” can prove to be beneficial.
Research indicates that increasing the job satisfaction of workers improves performance. Less satisfied workers experience more stress and describe their jobs more unfavorably than highly satisfied workers. Further, highly satisfied workers are better performers and possess good health, fewer health complaints and a more positive attitude than dissatisfied workers.
Technology can be leveraged for additional driver performance improvements as well. When considering equipment acquisition, take human factors into account in the broader context of how they integrate into the driver’s total job function. Vehicles that are more user friendly, comfortable and easier to operate, place less stress and strain on the driver, reducing fatigue and mistakes, and increasing productivity.
Then there is global positioning system tracking technology. It provides the opportunity to view the location of vehicles in real-time and respond proactively to service situations and route exceptions.
There are a multitude of management software applications designed specifically to optimize such tasks as routing, dispatching and scheduling, to save time, improve customer service and increase overall operational efficiency. Other software programs and systems generate reports on such things as resource use, driver productivity and performance reports, and provide information that can be used to analyze outcomes and improve overall transportation strategy.
Keep in mind that driver performance also can be impacted by the ongoing and rapid increase of new information systems and functionalities being used within vehicles, such as navigation aids, in-vehicle computers and onboard driver displays and recording devices. These new functionalities increase drivers’ workload and may slow their productivity, especially if they are improperly trained on how to efficiently use them.
Finally, think about how the delivery process can be made more efficient. Do drivers have to roll up doors and hunt for cases, or are products placed in order and packaged together? Are you adopting handheld computers to speed the delivery process? All of these factors influence performance. BI
I want to hear from you. Tell me how we can improve.
David Kolman is a veteran truck communicator, keynote speaker and long-haul trucker. Commissioned as an Honorary Colonel on the Kentucky governor’s staff for his work promoting traffic safety, he actively participates in trade associations and reports news and information about the trucking industry for broadcasting and print media.
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