Grade A Training – How To Get The Most Out of Your Drivers

Justin Christensen |

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Whatever your industry, the ideal employee does not come ready made. Even with years of formal education, most jobs will require some level of introductory training, internship or apprenticeship. All that, of course, needs to be supplemented by ongoing doses of invaluable experience.

Truck drivers are no exception. They may arrive with the required licensing, but it’s fleet owners who will be key in helping them maximize their potential on the job. How is that accomplished?

Scope of Training

With an overall goal of improving performance, training should focus on areas such as corporate policies and procedures, safe work practices, industry rules and regulations, routes and equipment, and vehicle operation. This will especially be so for a driver who’s new to the industry. Experienced drivers who are new to your organization will still need instruction in some of the same topics and perhaps refreshing in others.

The training you offer must include both cognitive skills—such as memory, logic and audiovisual comprehension—and psychomotor skills, such as hand-eye coordination, balance and reaction time. Each of these tools is required to perform the job to the best of a person’s ability.

Truck drivers are also used to being outdoors and on the move. Having a good balance of physical and cognitive elements in an environment that’s not restricted to a windowless room will offer variety and also help to keep their attention through the learning process.

Learning Style

Malcolm Knowles was an influential American educator and author in the latter half of the 20th century. Most noted for his work in andragogy—the study of life-long learning for adults—Knowles concluded that adults learn best when:

  1. They are given the reason(s) why what they need to know or do is important.
  2. They are free to learn in the manner that suits them best—visually, auditorily or by tactile (hands on) means.
  3. Learning is an experience—meaning instructors use whatever form it takes to get them involved or engaged.
  4. The timing is right—since sometimes spontaneity is needed to keep interest, be flexible with your agenda.
  5. The process promotes positivity; patience and encouragement go a long way learning anything new.

Sometimes extrinsic incentives, such as perks, promotions or money aren’t enough to keep someone motivated. Engaging your truck drivers and showing interest in them personally can help make them want to stay with your company. It’s a refreshing change from being lonely on the road.

Encourage Ownership Thinking

How many times have you heard the line, “I don’t know, I just work here?” Encouraging “ownership thinking” invites employees to function in the best interest of the company, just as if they owned the place. When people are on board with your company’s mission, they, feel valued and accountable.

Creating this atmosphere is not always easy, but it has multiple benefits. For example, it helps to boost motivation, build more cohesive teams and increase transparency. It can also be key in lowering turnover rates (see “Best Practices To Hire the Best Drivers”). With all of the challenges fleet owners are facing today, that aspect alone makes the task worthwhile.

Investing in your drivers is ultimately investing in your business. That can also be done by connecting with your fuel distributor. As fleet owners ourselves, we’ve been down the same roads and understand the many pillars of performance. With experience and expertise, we can help your drivers and your business maximize their potential.