It’s not What you say, it’s How you say it.

Working away from home should
Working away from home should

A few summers back, I was golfing with some colleagues from the trucking industry in theToronto area. It just so happened that the topic of the day was the importance of driver retention and what carriers are doing to help reduce their turnover. We were held up by the foursome ahead of us for most of the morning so decided to stop after 9 and grab a hotdog and beverage to go. We had just made the turn and were heading down the 10th fairway when we were approached by the starter who drove up and angrily barked, “Speed things up! You’ve fallen behind and are holding everyone up!” He then proceeded to drive away. We were holding everyone up? Really? The foursome behind us had also stopped for a bite and was not even close to heading to the tee yet. We all looked at each other in disbelief. We were playing at an exclusive golf course and had just grabbed a quick lunch at the turn. Now we were being harassed by a starter with an ego who forgot who the customer was.

If we were really behind, could he have said things differently? Absolutely! How about something like this…“Hey boys, how’s the round going? Great day for a game! I’m wondering if you can you do me a favour? The course is a bit busy today and we’re just asking everyone to try and be ready at the tees to keep things on time. Can you help me out and pick up the pace a bit?”It’s really not what you say, it’s how you say it. I was so irritated by the starter’s outburst that when I got up to hit my tee shot, I sliced the ball into the farmer’s field beside us. As I left the tee box, cursing the starter for my poor shot, my colleagues graciously reminded me that even when I’m in the best frame of mind I slice the ball that way plenty of times. How often do we snap back at our Drivers like thestarter did to us that day? Communication is key to the retention of our Drivers. Many of the personality conflicts we have that get blown way out of proportion could have easily been avoided if we chose our words wisely or watched our tone. Remember, the driver has nothing but miles to thin kabout what was said. If he takes the wrong message with him, watch how it can percolate and grow by the time he gets home. Let’s use the following statement to prove my point: “I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.” How many ways can this statementbe said by changing ourtone or annunciating each word? How does it change the meaning of the sentence?

  • “I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.” This implies someone else could have said it.
  • “I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.”This says that it was never said or implied.
  • “I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.” This says it wasn’t spoken, but may have been implied.
  • “I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.” This puts the blame on someone else.
  • “I didn’t say you caused the load to be late.” This means the person is not to blame. It really all depends on the way you say it. When speaking to employees and Drivers try to really watch your tone and choose your words wisely. Too often we think that just because we told the monce what was expected, that they should understand. Communication is not just a transfer of information; it’s atransfer of understanding. As leaders it is our responsibility to ensure they understand what is expected of our Drivers and Employees. Communication also is the response you get. If you are not getting the proper response from your people, you need to change the way you are communicating with them. Too often we try to communicate key information over satellite, text, or email, which can lead to misunderstandings. If you have to discipline a Driver, avoid doing it by email and definitely don’t copy others unless they are involved in the process. Take five minutes to pick up the phone, or better yet have a face-to-face conversation when at all possible so that they can hear the tone in your voice. With email and satellite message, tone is so often misinterpreted and we all know how that can get blown out of proportion. Later this month, many Carriers and Suppliers will be attending the National Recruiting and Retention Symposium in Toronto. The lineup of speakers for this inaugural event is exceptional. Alison Graham – Resiliency Ninja Mastering Everyday Resilience for Recruiters and HR Professionals Denise Beaupre- Owner and COO of Auction Transport Limitless Potential for Recruitment & HR Professionals Ray Haight- Co-founder of TCA inGauge The Secret to Solving the Driver Retention Puzzle Ellen Voie- President & CEO of Women in Trucking Association How to Attract and Retain Women in Transportation Careers Scott Rea- President of Avatar Fleet The Driver Shortage is for your Competition Mike McCarron- President of Left Lane Associates The Uncut Reality of Recruiting & Retention