Professionalism or its Lack

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We’ve spoken about this topic before but we want you to know that a lack of professionalism displayed by many truck drivers is not something that will return without all of us – drivers included – working together on.

First of all a Commercial Driver License is not a free pass to ignoring regulations and laws, the rules of the road and compliance. It is a privilege bestowed upon us after much training and practice. We must protect this right by always acting with professionalism or we risk losing it.

Supply Chain Demands Put Pressure on Truck Drivers

Of course, we still must carry out our duties of picking up and delivering on time. But if shippers and receivers delay us, we are still expected to get the job done on time. How is that possible? Supply chain demands impress time pressures upon us, so many times we overlook common courtesies, often with our driving habits.

Since these unexpected delays and time pressures now fall on us, the only method we have for making up time is through reduced driving time. So, we speed, and/or overlook eating, or even ignoring mandatory rest periods in the interest of being on time for which no one will thank us for just doing our job. Trust us; we know this affects your attitude in a negative way, making it difficult to foster professionalism.

Dangerous Driving Habits

Trying at all costs to make time can lead to dangerous habits in addition to speeding and ignoring breaks. Others include tailgating, distracted driving, aggressive driving, hours of service violations, all caused by our perceived impatience. These bad driving habits are dangerous; refuse to give in to them and make highways safer for us all.

But really, does all the delays we face fall on our responsible shoulders? We say NO. Communicate with dispatch and management to let shippers and receivers know of what delays occurred and give them a reasonable expectation for pickup/delivery. Then relax, breathe deeply and drive safely; eat on time and take breaks when required. Don’t extend hours of service into violation territory.

You’ll be in a better frame of mind for communicating courteously with shippers and receivers, loaders and unloaders, even DOT inspectors at weigh stations, without any bad language. No one needs to play the blame game. In trucking, delays happen every day to every driver. Stuff happens beyond anyone’s control. Keep that in mind next time you experience daily delays.

Filtering Down from the Top

Some believe professionalism must start at the top and filter down to all folks in your fleet. That’s management, office staff, dispatchers, repair shop management, and technicians, and of course drivers. If we all practice professional behaviors it will come much easier than just drivers being instructed to do it themselves. The fleet’s entire culture must support and foster professionalism in order for it to filter down and reciprocate upward.

Fleets can’t afford drivers with bad habits. They may adversely affect safety scores and insurance costs and even in some cases cause property damage, injuries and death. Hard acceleration and harsh braking cause equipment wear and tear, breakdowns, repair costs and excess fuel usage.

If your fleet suspects or detects any of these bad habits it’s time to invest in a driving coach to overcome bad habits and such unnecessary costs. An incentive program for rewarding good drivers can also help to grow a culture of professionalism and good driving habits.

Drivers will gradually begin to form higher expectations and better opinions of themselves, their work, and the company they work for.

Health Risks of Chronic Stress

Unrealistic supply chain demands can result in health problems due to constant stress and may impact all your people, not just drivers. There should never be a time when it’s right to keep a customer happy at all costs. Those types of customers you don’t need. There are plenty more willing to work with you having realistic expectations of your ability to provide good service.

When customers offer positive comments about your service, communicate them to your drivers and be sure to thank them for a job well done.

Keep the pressure off your drivers and stress everyone’s safety. Drivers have to deal with their lives outside trucking, including limited home time with family, road expenses as well as household costs. Let’s not give them more to worry about. Instead, let’s get them feeling like professionals. Consider them your greatest asset and show it.