Open Communication and Consistent Coaching
What is “normal?”
Ideally, it’s the life we lived prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, now, with so much up in the air, what will normal look like after the pandemic for fleets? Will it vary from state to state and city to city as our country slowly awakens from its current state? Most importantly, how will it impact your front-line workers as they travel our roads, make their deliveries and continue to help move America forward?
The way they conduct business – and the way you conduct business – may never be the same. This 5-part series features tips to help you and your fleet get back to normal. Or, rather, a new normal.
First on the list is implementing effective communications and coaching – one that can bring immediate impact to your fleet.
Unclog the Lines of Communication
As mentioned in a recent blog post, cognitive distractions are at an all-time high. With COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, drivers are distracted even more than usual. Everyone is worried about their jobs, worried about their families and worried about what will happen tomorrow. It’s difficult to stay focused on today, let alone on what’s on the road in front of you.
Now more than ever, it’s important to unclog the lines of communication. Listen actively to your drivers; don’t simply think about what your next response will be. For instance:
- Pay attention to the feelings that others express—verbally and nonverbally. Try to understand the message behind the words and actions.
- Don’t put your own feelings in place of another’s. Put aside your own needs and ideas long enough to listen to the other person’s point of view.
- Communicate in a more responsive way. Respond or give answers to the messages you receive to show you understand them.
- Do not interrupt or break in. Let speakers finish what they are saying before you talk.
- Ask questions for more information. If you still don’t understand, ask questions until you do understand.
In addition, remember that safety excellence is a collaboration between leaders and drivers. A relationship is based upon mutual respect and open, transparent communications. Open your door or pick up your phone. Either way, stop and listen.
“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.” – John Wooden
In commercial transportation, drivers are the players and leaders are the coaches. Fortunately, today, tools are available that enable near-real-time performance monitoring that provide the basis for focused, positive and constructive coaching and recognition. With the right tools in the hands of skillful coaches and embraced by drivers as an essential way to continuously improve their performance, we are better able to consistently “do things right.”
By making a habit of doing things right, over time, we have fewer crashes and incidents that consume the valuable time of our task-saturated operations leaders. Time spent coaching to enable success is better than time spent investigating instances when we fail.
For many fleets, it’s difficult to coach drivers who are on the road for weeks at a time and may not have the opportunity to sit down for a coaching session. These are the best opportunities to connect with your drivers, learn where their head is at and let them know you’re there supporting them – even if you’re not with them in the cab.
Available for all customers at any time, but particularly effective for these situations, is the SmartDrive Driver App that facilitates easy remote coaching, as well as self-coaching. By providing each driver’s Safety Score measured against company Target Score, along with 12-week driver performance trend, observations that contribute to each driver’s individual Safety Score, event details with map views and access to their individual event videos, drivers become engaged with their level of safety and take ownership for their individual safety improvement. In a future blog post, we’ll discuss how to easily tie these safety scores to driver incentive programs.
Open communication and consistent coaching are the keys to keeping your drivers motivated and keeping your fleet moving forward. Whether your driver needs coaching, or simply encouragement – now more than ever – give them a call and let them know you care.
For more tips on communication and coaching, download our eBook – Coaching Your Drivers to Safety and Success – that will help you make coaching a part of your safety culture, measure your coaching effectiveness, provide advanced analytics for coaching and more.
- Posted by Melissa.Senoff@smartdrive.net
- On April 29, 2020