When building a sense of community within your vehicle fleet, it’s important to have experienced and knowledgeable drivers who can help guide the next generation. Developing a mentorship program has the potential to maintain your status as an industry leader.
Effective mentoring programs can increase driver productivity and engagement, improve driver retention and aid in succession planning.
To accomplish these goals, vehicle fleets need to adopt a “drivers first” philosophy and create a positive work environment.
“We’ve moved from the trucking industry being about the job itself to it being about the culture,” says Dan Baker, a veteran consultant and speaker in the trucking industry. “You have to build the right kind of company culture to succeed.”
Even the most successful vehicle fleets will sometimes have issues that drivers must overcome. Baker has worked with many companies to develop mentorship programs where experienced drivers can help and engage with them on a regular basis.
Mentorship programs have allowed a better flow of communication between drivers, dispatchers and fleet managers. The end goal is for experienced leaders of the trucking industry to pass on their accumulated knowledge to the next generation – while learning about new challenges facing drivers on the road today.
“If a driver feels that they’re being paid attention to and personally involved,” Baker says. “Mentors need to have the common ability to listen to people. Just like in many other industries, it’s important to have trust and respect.”
Here are four tips for developing a mentorship program that will have benefits for all members of your fleet.
When introducing mentors and their mentees, start out in a casual setting so that both drivers feel comfortable and relaxed. Mentors should begin by inviting their mentees to ask questions and express concerns about life on the road.
Embrace the future
Mentors help drivers to grow into the industry by providing access to resources for continued learning and education and presenting opportunities for career growth. Some drivers may eventually transition into other roles such as dispatcher or training manager.
Create an open forum
With the use of new technology, conversations can occur in many different ways: phone, email or in person. Whatever the case – Facebook or face-to-face – the most important goal is for drivers and their mentors to share information.
Be sure that fleet managers recognize mentoring accomplishments and acknowledge safety records and other milestones. Mentors are better equipped to provide on-going coaching and support when their drivers feel recognized and appreciated.