5 Ways how to solve and avoid common problems in daily communication on a line dispatcher/driver
How to deal with drivers when it comes to many different issues in transportation business?
Running a transportation business isn’t an easy job. Every business owner, entrepreneur and manager who plays such a role in logistics industry, knows exactly how stressful this environment is. Also, they are aware, how many problems occur daily in managing all necessary duties related to transport operations, customers, trucks maintenance and … drivers who are far away from the headquarters and their homes (yes, believe it or not they have their homes and families same as you).
Hence, how does it happen that in many scenarios and transportation businesses, owners and managers find it difficult to deal with drivers and fail?
According to my experience, most of the problems and negative emotions in the line between dispatcher/forwarder and trucker aren’t related to badly provided service, delayed transport as well as technology or equipment issues. They are strictly related to one’s opinions and stereotypes towards the profession about the other. Unfortunately, not good ones. Especially those which you were taught by the companies’ cultures you have worked around. Mostly by beliefs of the professions which were spread between you and your colleagues based on negative emotions (anger, envy, suspicious, disliking), not based on respect or one’s contribution for the logistics chain value creation.
In 5 following points below, I would like to present you several ways of how to deal with and make a simple change in your working environment to make mutual cooperation between internal and travel personnel more effective, supportive and less stressful toward your company’s brand value creation.
First and the foremost factor is to talk to drivers and treat them as a human beings and team members. We are aware that this group of workers do a though job by spending weeks outside homes, directly connecting with people especially the closest ones and not being close to the company. They as people and workers also would like to be a part of the logistics empire which is being established by everyone on a daily basis. They all build a brand of the company, its reputation and everyone’s work. Especially drivers and their contribution make cargo deliveries timely. In the result they put efforts and engagement in providing the service as everyone in the company. So, the same respect, training, communication, and information should be provided to them.
Second is to solve issues immediately after they occur and when a truck driver arrival to the base. Most of the people think that if the issue is not discussed there is no issue. “We don’t need to do this. Well, it was 2 weeks ago. I don’t remember, nor they do”, well, no. In real, the driver is abroad for a week or two and between this period several issues may arise. Not only with the driver, but also in line with the dispatcher or forwarder as well. Additionally, they make mistakes, often do not check what’s needed, ignore information. Two weeks passed. Matter was not discussed. Negative emotions haven’t been neutralized.
Give few months of such behaviors and attitudes toward problems and a driver resigns from work for a company. Always resolve problems, write them down and when a driver comes to the base, sit down with him, and discuss the issue face to face. I know that this is not a pleasant, funny, joyful activity but, it allows transparent interaction and pays right respect to person and helps to avoid the same problem in the future.
Third is to get into the particular driver’s shoes. Firstly, to deal with people, we need to understand that each of us is different. For the first glance we may have some similarities when it comes to work, behavior, attitude as well as even appearance. However, majorly we are totally different people as individuals.
We have different goals, aspirations, different families, and backgrounds. Similar referring relationships’ models with our partners. Even different hobbies. For example, some of us love football. From the another side, some of us hate football. Finally, some of us like church on weekends with the family. Nevertheless, others like one-night stands with different partners each week. Everyone’s life model is okay and is acceptable to you when you work with people to respect their attitude, objectives, paths, and goals which they have for their lives.
Why is it so important too understand and respect that?
On many training sessions I often hear “David, they are the social pathology, they have problems at homes, they are in debts …” which I have had in companies related to carrier portfolio development or improving the communication between drivers and inhouse staff. Based on that, the stereotype is being made. I could put over here many of such beliefs sets like this. It is very easy to offend somebody (especially gossiping about the individual) before we take a look into the mirror and realize that people around us are not so transparent as well. Are you so transparent by the way? Put a bit more empathy and respect toward others, try to understand their context and do not generalize. We are all here together as a one team and we have a one goal – transport delivery on time and location. Let’s focus on that.
Forth is to make training sessions with drivers aboard. It is very common in companies that inhouse staff has trainings. Many times, on a regular basis. Same goes to “pizza-day” or Friday’s beer. When you eat pizza on your lunch time and have small talks with people around, discuss some business issues or go out with your work colleagues to grab a drink. Additionally, at the same time, the driver loads, unloads cargo or is on his way from one point to another somewhere in Europe.
It is quite hard to understand the problem, method, strategy and way of communication in company if we all are not on the same line.
How do we learn same language then? For instance, by training, by small talk, by having fun with your colleagues. Especially, in working environment, we not only learn what is written in words on a formal presentation, but also, we teach each other when we sit down in the group. In the result we see our smiles, we feel our sense of humor. Now we understand why some matters are such important to someone. We share the ideas, and get into discussion. We see each other’s expertise and knowledge. Don’t you think that taking a driver for a mutual training session with team, discussing business, wouldn’t be important to make a better understating between people and learn the communication? Or inviting him for a pizza day to the office?
Fifth and last is to create a strong culture of conscious behavior between inhouse staff (dispatchers and forwarders) and drivers. If you think that what you describe in a meeting room about strategy is more important than what is said between people when they drink coffee or smoke cigarettes together, you are in the wrong place, my friend. Peter Drucker the guru of business strategy once said “culture eats strategy on a breakfast”. In my training and consulting experience, I totally agree with this statement, especially when it comes to issues in communication.
So how to help the culture grow in a better way? Will people in their routines act properly? It all starts with the recruitment and onboarding processes. Maybe even earlier – when we consciously uncover what is important to us in terms of customers, people, providers, behaviors. When people come in and they are given a right values and instructions what and how something should be done or what is prohibited in the company. Finally, how on a regular basis we remind and discipline one another towards those values. Simple reminders on a line leader level – dispatcher about how we all should behave allows culture works. As a consequence, we just consciously learn what is the right approach, not the other way that we unconsciously learn behaviors by emotions or colleagues observations who weren’t thought good manners before.
Combining those 5 points all together, you may see a one linking element towards each of them. The element is called “we all play the same game”. In my 15 years’ experience and permanent growth in the logistics industry, I uncovered a one and the most important value which in my opinion links every person who works in this field. The most important core value is to secure the supply chain of our customer’s flow. Due to the fact of customer centric orientation. If we believe in it, our daily actions, routines, and procedures as well as culture in transportation or forwarding companies will be strong and eventually profitable. As you can observe problems in communication and on between dispatcher-driver line many times are far away from this value.
What would happen if we all believe in it? Would it be easier to treat ourselves as normal people, human beings working towards one and core objective? The same when it comes to solving problems right away when we know that our internal interests are not as important as maintaining the safety of our customers’ business? Wouldn’t it be more productive if we all tried to understand each other and get into one’s shoes instead of gossiping? How would the understanding of the same issue look like if we from the very begging of our work in a company we were taught how to behave and discuss problems together with drivers individually on a training session?
The answer for above mentioned questions I am going to leave under your comment. Simple changes may often allow a significant progress.
Author / Dawid Wardin, CEO Wardin Logistics