Every time I walk through dispatch, I’m listening. For what? Not just how my drivers are being treated, but to find opportunities to make those average or slightly above average drivers into great drivers.
This article the first in a new series about how safety managers can find and use leadership opportunities to demonstrate the value of safety programs – not just in achieving compliance or improving safety scores, but in improving fleet performance across a variety of key performance indicators. Now, let’s get back to what you can hear in the dispatch office.
If your dispatch office is calm and quiet, chances are that your operations team is running a super efficient shop – load and route planning are going well, and drivers are focused on compliance, performance, and customer service. That’s great! But what should you be asking yourself if the dispatch office is loud and spiraling from one crisis to another?
The first question you need to ask is how can you help? And you need to ask in the context of safety – because that’s YOUR job. If your drivers are afraid to call in because they get yelled at, or if drivers are running late and rigs get called out of service for citations or maintenance, the focus of the whole fleet cannot possibly be on safety, compliance, and consistent customer service.
Telematics tools make life easier for everyone, including drivers
Anyone managing drivers should be there to encourage them and to keep them focused on success. Planning is the key. Your telematics solution should be setup to help identify problems before they happen. What TSP reports are you and dispatch using to monitor trends? – and what reports are available that you aren’t currently using to achieve this? Share your challenges with your TSP’s customer success team, and ask them what they can help you set up and implement. It’s what they’re there for, so take advantage of it.
Zen and the art of dispatch
Great safety managers know that if they have to spend more time disciplining drivers than coaching for success, they have already failed. Include ops in your plan to turn a good driver, into a great driver. Prove to your drivers that you are there to help them succeed, and they will work twice as hard and make the whole operation successful. After all, your drivers want the company to succeed.
Invest some time and effort into the success of your colleagues in dispatch or operations. It is one thing to say that you are a valuable part of the company. It is another to prove it.
Four things you can do right now to demonstrate leadership
- Take someone from another department out to lunch or coffee, and don’t talk about work. You will be amazed at how much trust and cooperation some simple human interaction will bring.
- Initiate a cross-departmental optimization of your telematics system. Your TSP can help with this, so put them to work!
- Initiate a review of your existing training systems, and ask for input from other departments.
- Make sure that the existing training systems you have in place are not forgotten, being followed and evaluated for how they are improving performance and retention.