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Transportation Industry: Hiring For The New Norm

By: Michael C. Buck
Tel: 912-571-9149
Email Mr. Buck

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The pandemic has changed the corporate landscape and the manner in which companies interact with their respective customers even more drastically than 9/11. As with anything, there is a silver-lining to every cloud and there are many positive take-aways from pandemic. Some that come to mind are the enhanced focus on customer service and the ability to adapt to change. We now have clean hands, trucks, and facilities for the drivers and maintenance personnel to work in. Steven Hawking stated, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” In transportation, increased volume due to supply and demand have come at unprecedented proportions. The industry has met these demands head-on, overcoming a multitude of obstacles all while implementing contactless pick-up and delivery methods, enhanced asset & shipment tracking, and GPS guidance. Another positive transformation that transpired is many companies were able to eliminate some unproductive and/or employees who failed to adapt to change. So, how do you hire for the new norm when mediocre anything is unacceptable? 

You start by hiring individuals with integrity and a teachable spirit. You find the ones who are hungry not only to learn your respective business but excited to learn how to lead, manage, and drive improvement. I’ve found that manufacturers can hang technology on equipment from now until the cows come home, but it will never be more difficult than managing people. As the complexity of our diverse workforce continues to change it is imperative that leaders at all levels understand that learning to lead and manage is a never-ending process. You next must look in the mirror and ask yourself am I leading with unquestionable integrity? That old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do” has never worked, and it’s imperative that you lead by example. Leading with integrity builds respect, and respect morphs into devoted trust. Once you have trust you can accomplish almost anything. Who on my team is or is not leading with integrity? If you currently have leaders at any level who are not leading with integrity and think they know it all, you must immediately have that nose to nose meeting in order to determine if they have the ability to change and develop a teachable spirit and fully understand the aforementioned concepts. If they lead you to believe that they can make that significant transformation (It’s a significant personal and professional change.) you must closely monitor their actions to ensure they are not running underground and undermining your actions and are truly embracing the transformation. You as a leader must understand that this change will be difficult. One must understand that not making a decision or handling a problem is a problem within itself and the only thing that matters is what you do next.

So, who are the game-changers that made these incredible things happen and how to you go about hiring and retaining them? Who developed the adapting processes to meet the new requirements? First you must take stock in your current management team and know who stepped up to the plate and was able to adapt to the constant demand for change. You must make it a top priority to retain and hire those types of individuals going forward.  During the interview process contrary to the belief, you need to ask questions to the potential candidate that he/she does not know and hiring individuals who are forthright enough to say, “I don’t know.”  No better way to build trust than to say I don’t know, let’s figure it out.

How they do anything is how they will do everything. Additionally, you are looking for individuals who are asking as many questions as you the interviewer are. From the employee standpoint, you are looking for companies that have core values and the culture that manages and operates to their core values, not ones that are hanging on the wall collecting dust. Additionally, you are not looking for quick responder but for candidates who ask questions, that is how they will handle problems and opportunities for your organization. Why is this so very important?  Hypothetically, a customer asks an employee a question in regards to one (1) of your services, the quick responder believes they know the answer and give a canned response thinking they are pacifying the customer and moving on to the next task.  Whereas the diligent employee asks many probing questions in order to completely understand the customer needs thus resulting increased sales and an improved relationship with the customer. Nothing will sour an employee’s morale and dedication faster than watching you fail to deal with an incompetent or indifferent employee. And you can’t change a company with indifferent employees, it is imperative to handle HR issues immediately!!!

There’s a lot of conversation about how today’s worker will need to shift to a mindset of lifelong learning to stay career relevant. Even before the pandemic, the workplace was rapidly changing due to technological advances. Now, that pace has increased, and many of us recognize that we must continually learn and upskill our knowledge in order to keep up and, ultimately, enhance our careers. If we can keep up this pace of garnering respect by leading and managing your entire workforce, then other industries will learn from transportation and this respect will keep growing. Moreover, this topic is so broad it will require a follow-up article that will be published soon.

Michael C. Buck, President of MCB Consulting, is a Commercial Transportation Expert with over 30 years of experience. He and his team provide world class Fleet Maintenance Management by developing methodical policies and procedures monitored by performance metrics while simultaneously providing leadership with the tools and authority to effectively assist their customers. Mr. Buck is recognized as an experienced senior level fleet and executive with proven success in developing systems and infrastructures to promote profitability. He is adept at bolstering the performance of both physical and human capital. A strategic communicator who will solicit buy-in and institute initiatives focused on promoting fiscally prudent organizational growth.

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