Due to the high-pressure environment and possible miscommunication about each side’s challenges, fleet managers and drivers can have a difficult and complicated relationship. There is a direct correlation between the relationship between fleet managers and drivers, and the success of your fleet operation.
The tension in this relationship often arises when there is a lack of understanding as to each party’s challenges and expectations about the jobs at hand. According to Marius Luyt from the Automobile Association, “fleet managers who fail to understand the impact of longer hours on the road for drivers keep applying pressure to get results. On the other hand, many drivers do not understand how their mistakes, bad driving habits and lack of work commitment, have a great impact on their employers and long-term job security.”
Bridging the gap between drivers and fleet managers is possible and even essential to your fleet’s success. Through communication, trust building and stress reduction, this relationship can be manged efficiently so that your fleet operation continues to grow and expand productively.
High productivity pressure within the industry puts a real strain on the relationship between managers and drivers. Meeting delivery deadlines often causes a lot of stress; however, the overall wellbeing of drivers is paramount in the successful running of your fleet.
Communication channels have to remain open and honest. Drivers need to feel as though they are valued and that their concerns are legitimately heard. Fleet managers need to look holistically at fleet operations and consider the long-term sustainability of practices. It is also beneficial for fleet managers to spend some time in the shoes of drivers to better understand their challenges and concerns.
An effective strategy to improve the manager/driver relationship is to effectively communicate to drivers their role in the larger picture. If drivers better understand the entire fleet operation, as well as how their actions impact the business they are likely to feel valued and have a vested interest in the business.
If drivers trust their managers, then they are more likely to gain job satisfaction and stay committed to the company. As much as you would like your fleet to be the most productive as possible, this can never come before the safety and wellbeing of your drivers. They need to know that their best interests are taken into consideration.
A critical component to the manger/driver relationship is that fairness is incorporated into decision making for drivers. In order to do this, making use of fleet tracking and fuel tracking devices can better inform managers as to optimal routes and which drivers are performing well. These tools produce reports that can used to demonstrate the thinking behind decision-making. When drivers feel that decisions are being made fairly and based off of facts, trust is built and maintained.
However, it is critically important that these monitoring devices are introduced correctly into the fleet. Drivers need to know that devices are being used to optimise the process rather than ‘spy’ on driver habits. It needs to be demonstrated that these devices will actually benefit drivers through better performance appraisals, skills development, and ultimately, helping to turn a fleet into a team.
Driving on South African roads is incredibly stressful and dangerous. South Africa has one of the highest road accident death rates in the world. In a survey, 25% of truck drivers admitted to being involved in an accident as a result of sleepiness and up to 37% of all road fatalities may be attributable to driver sleepiness. These statistics add to the stress levels of drivers. The job is also incredibly stressful dealing with traffic, weather and meeting deadlines. In order to optimise your fleet and improve relationships, reducing the stress levels felt by drives is a must.
Consider implementing a Wellness Programme for your drivers to combat the stress and negative health impacts associated with driving. Drivers often suffer from back and neck problems from the hours spent on the road. This coupled with poor diet and little to no exercise on the road can significantly impact health and wellbeing. When your drivers are incorporating a healthy lifestyle into their driving then their overall quality of life is improved. Happy and healthy drivers mean greater productivity for your fleet and less days of absenteeism.
Another way to improve the driver/manger relationship is to offer incentives. Although monetary incentives can be beneficial, other forms of incentive also help boost morale.
Fleet managers need to be able to lead their team but also provide them with the support and tools they need to do their jobs properly. Offering regular evaluations and appraisals as well as corrective training can really optimise your fleet and add skills to your drivers. Consider other tactics such as implementing flexible work structure and driver appreciation events, as well as bankable ‘home’ days.
Beyond this, drivers with a sense of ownership are more likely to take the best possible care of their vehicles and be more productive. However, it is not always possible for drivers to own vehicles, but various employee-share schemes and incentive packages can also give drivers a sense of ownership
At Landmark Tracking we continuously grow and evolve, offering our clients South African solutions for unique challenges including vehicle monitoring and recovery, risk analysis, fleet optimisation and training, and security audits. If you want to find out how to optimise your fleet and improve the relationships between your managers and drivers, then get in touch today. Our dedicated professionals are here to help your business with customised solutions that fit your needs.