by Tim Brady
, Business Editor
Proper people skills can increase morale and profitability
You’d think in a stagnant economy, simply providing someone a job with a consistent paycheck would be incentive enough for employees to remain with your company. But today, it’s a whole different employment world. The best workers need to be motivated not only to work for a company, but to stay with one.
As written in Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (and I paraphrase), if you treat your employees the way you want your customers to be treated, you never have to worry about customer service. In other words, the more respect you give, the more respect you receive.
I read this several years ago and it really left an impression. At the time I was in a business that required I hire day workers in different cities. Over the course of a month, I would have managed 15 to 20 different individuals. How well they did their jobs directly affected my profit margin: the more efficiently they worked and the less damage they did, the better my bottom line. By taking this concept to heart and focusing on being respectful to the people I hired, paying them fairly, delegating to them the tasks for which they were to be responsible, and then trusting them to do the job correctly without micromanaging their every move, I not only improved the profitability of my business but made managing a far less stressful task.
So what are the things you as a manager or owner can do to keep your employees and contractors happy while getting the most effort from them?
- Respect. I know we’ve all been taught that respect is earned, but respect is a two-way process. We need the respect of our employees. Instead of making them earn your respect, give it to them from the start. You’ll end up with a more productive employee.
- Pay fairly. If you want to retain the best people, you must give them reasons to stay. The cost to replace an employee is high, and that money is more wisely spent on paying to keep a good employee in your employ. If you pay the highest salaries for your respective segment of the industry, you’ll get the top talent in that area. It can’t be the only incentive, but it’s a start.
- Delegate. Train your employees to do their job better than anyone else in the industry. Provide them with continuing education, from the skills needed to do their job to business and financial management instruction. Then be willing to delegate jobs to them. Set parameters within which they can work and let them do the job. I spent 23 years in the business of household moving. You could take 10 identical houses with 10 qualified household movers to load them into identical trailers, and no two of them would be loaded the same. Yet they’d all be correct, because they followed the basics of moving: heavy on the bottom, lighter as you build to the top, square to the front of the tier, and fill to the back.
- Trust. Don’t micromanage your employees. Trust them to follow your instructions to get the job you’ve delegated to them done in a fashion your customers require and in the time necessary. Trust, like respect, isn’t always earned; many times it’s taught through your own actions.
- For the best return on your employee and contractor investments, here are some other ways to provide incentive and appreciation for your valued people:
- Offer room for growth. Make advancement available to the people who work for you. You’re always looking for ways to increase earnings and move your company to the next level. Your employees and contractors are no different. Recent studies indicate that people who felt they didn’t have opportunities for advancement were unhappy in their jobs.
- Offer independence. Trucking by its nature requires an independent spirit. Think about the fact that drivers are responsible for 40 tons of truck going down the highway or maneuvering through city streets, requiring them to make multiple split-second decisions. Drivers must have the right skills to make those decisions without being subjected to ‘Monday morning quarterbacking.’
- Give them work-life balance. As the owner of the company, it’s up to you to make sure your employees get and keep that balance between work and home, and that they earn the money to enjoy the fruits of their labor. When working, drivers need to be compensated for all the time they’re responsible for that truck, regardless of whether it’s rolling down the highway or parked waiting for the next load.
Based on the current pay-per-mile standard of many carriers in the industry, it’s obvious those carriers lack respect for the job their drivers do.
Contact Tim Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 731-749-8567. Join Brady in the Trucking Business Community at www.truckersu.com.