How to Handle Difficult Conversations with Your Drivers
If you have employees, there will come a time when you have to pull them aside and talk to them about something they are doing that you want them to stop, or something that they should be doing but aren’t. If you’re a manager, this is part of the territory. You don’t have to enjoy it, but you have to do it.
Truck drivers are no different than any other workers; they fall out of line and need to be nudged (or pushed) back into line. And it’s not a matter of if you’re going to talk to them, but how you’re going to handle the conversation.
Problem drivers waste your time and money
Employees who are underperforming or are showing other signs of poor conduct can take up a manager’s time and waste the company’s valuable resources. For these reasons and others, you must deal with them swiftly and firmly. The longer you put it off, the more time it provides for the issue to grow and fester.
Here are some steps to consider when it’s time to have that awkward conversation
- Schedule a meeting: Set a face-to-face meeting about one day in advance. That amount of time keeps your driver from feeling blind-sided, but it’s not enough to cause excessive speculation and worry.
- Be prepared: Don’t ad-lib. Know what you want to say, and write it down in advance. If you’re new at this, it’s a good idea to run it past a trusted colleague before the meeting.
- State you concerns clearly: Maintain a positive tone, but don’t sugarcoat the problem. Remind the driver that you are assessing conduct or performance—this is not about him (or her) as a person.
- Be quiet and listen: Allow your driver to respond uninterrupted. Try to find out what might have caused the problem by listening You may be able to correct the issue by providing the driver with the resources needed to help him meet the company’s expectations.
- Keep a written record: Write down what the two of you discussed including the problem and your expectations. If the driver responds by doing a good job and this 3issue was an aberration, it’s now part of his file. If the driver needs to be let go, it serves as documentation.
- Decide what to do next: After your conversation, you should have enough information to make a decision on how to move forward. You might need to replace the driver, or it may just be a matter of reassigning him to a different route or a different position in the company.
- Recognize any improvements: If you notice that the driver’s performance has improved — even a small improvement — make sure to acknowledge it. When you recognize incremental progress, you increase the chances that it will continue.
To learn more strategies for communicating effectively with your drivers or other useful topics, contact a CDS specialist today.