At any time, driver safety and wellness should be a top priority for carriers and logistics companies. In 2020, however, driver safety should be at the top of every list. As the COVID crisis has swept the world, the CDL trucking and shipping industry has experienced its fair share of ups and downs.
DriverReach Founder and CEO, Jeremy Reymer, sat down with industry thought leader, author, and Jetco Delivery CEO Brian Fielkow in the most recent installment of DriverReach Chats to discuss leadership, company culture, and what long-haul truckers should keep in mind during the current COVID-19 crisis. Here are some highlights from their conversation.
Leadership and Culture
According to Brian, safety culture is a subset of company culture. Organizations must have a clear safety strategy in place – especially if they are dealing with drivers and trucks on the road – in order to solidify a company culture. As an accomplished keynote speaker himself, Brian has been in the position (many times, in fact) of walking away from a session or seminar and wondering what you learned and how you’ll use this new knowledge. That’s why his book, Driving to Perfection, was written. It’s full of clear, actionable ideas that are low in cost and high in value.
For anyone looking for a good introduction to business books, The Advantage by Pat Lencioni is a great start. Brian looked to this piece as an example for his books but changed direction slightly because, as Brian puts it, he wanted to give everyone – even non-Fortune 500 organizations – the tools they need to be successful. After all, leadership starts from the top but it really impacts the boots on the ground.
Two specific points Brian makes in his book Driving to Perfection that are especially relevant in today’s CDL trucking world are:
- The culture contract: This should be an actual physical contract that employees sign in agreement with their carrier. It serves as an affirmation of what both employees and employers are bringing to the table, and becomes a constant source of stability throughout an employee’s tenure. The best way to build a culture contract is by looking internally – what do your drivers wish they knew on the first day of the job? We’re all human and mistakes will be made. The culture contract is a great way to get people back on track when this happens.
- Never waste a good crisis: While the COVID-19 crisis has definitely impacted the CDL trucking industry in both good and bad ways, it should be a learning experience for everyone. The current situation definitely parallels the 2010 recession, but Brian deftly points out that every crisis has its own personality. For team leaders, managing through a crisis situation means that you:
- Have everyone’s attention. Now is the time to talk to your company about big-picture items and to take the time to fine-tune any issues.
- Can reinvent yourself. If you’ve been talking about taking new steps or trying new things, now is the time to take action. Use this time to eliminate waste and make things run smoother. If you do it right and lead with empathy, you will have built an entirely new relationship with your employees.
- Should take care of your employees first. This is a great opportunity to create a new sense of loyalty and come out on the other side with a different team dynamic. This new dynamic will then spill over to what customer’s experience.
What Long-Haul Truckers Need to Know During COVID-19
If you’re a driver who has been nervous over the last few months due to COVID-19, you’re not alone. It’s important to note, however, that there are definitely signs in place for a ‘vee’ shaped recovery in trucking, even if the economy isn’t there. The CDL trucking industry’s capacity was already strained in 2019 (over 800 companies failed), which means that there doesn’t need to be a massive economic boom for companies and drivers to start to feel the benefits.
In the short-term, Brian partnered with the CDC to create a free resource for all drivers called What Long-Haul Truckers Need to Know During COVID-19. Brian was able to add a unique operational perspective to this document that delivers resources and tools to drivers to mitigate risk. The number one takeaway? Drivers should always, always have a mask in their trucks to wear in public. This is the best way the industry can play a part in re-opening the economy and getting things back to normal.
Making Safety Happen
In order to continue his passion for education during this uncertain time, Brian is going to be releasing a six-part, web-based course called Making Safety Happen. Now is the time for organizations to take control of employee safety and take this responsibility to heart. Outside of the reasonably-priced course, Brian plans on hosting monthly online town halls for subscribers of the course to join, ask questions, share ideas, and discuss real-world problems in a group setting.
Brian’s passion for small business growth, logistics, and education may see him take his talents to the political stage soon, but for now he is hard at work creating and sharing critical resources for CDL truckers and carriers. You can watch Jeremy’s entire DriverReach chat with Brian here and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here so you don’t miss future conversations.
You can also engage with Brian’s work by:
- Purchasing “Driving to Perfection” or “Leading People Safety here
- Learning more about Making Safety Happen here
- Connecting with Brian here
Stay up to date on CDL trucking trends! Be sure to check out the DriverReach blog or follow us on LinkedIn for other relevant articles and head over to our webinars page for an up-to-date list of upcoming events and on-demand recordings.
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