Choosing a Trucking Company: The Cause of all Turnover

Choosing a Trucking Company: The Cause of all Turnover

In the writing of my second book I analyzed most all the “reasons” people leave one carrier for another. Though there are many stories told they seem to all have one thing in common: disrespect. Operators and drivers tended to use various versions of one phrase: “I (or nobody) should be treated like that”. Respect, or the lack of respect, is the primary cause of all industry turn over.

It didn’t matter if the issue was: money, time off, personality clashes, routing or even cleanliness. When people perceive disrespect they will begin to build a story and find a reason to leave. It’s the realization of disrespect first… then the issues. They usually “find” their story because they when it comes to disrespect they are right… NOBODY should be treated like “that”.

Carriers with low industry level turnover almost universally have a comprehensive culture of mutual respect (or at least predictable justness). Everyone from the janitor to the president usually demonstrates some form of respectful behavior. For those in the organization who don’t, there is usually a swift enough response to correct them. Employees who dare to talk down to fellow co-workers are marginalized or even removed. The stronger the culture of mutual respect, the lower the Carrier turnover.

This is not to say performance standards are lax, in fact Carriers where mutual respect is high, performance is usually higher than industry norms. Respect enables trust, and a culture of trust frees up people’s talents to: participate, innovate, and produce.

However, a culture of trust and respect doesn’t just happen. There are many forces against it, every day from nearly every choice a Carrier or their employee makes. The responsibility for which choice is made ultimately lies with management. Management governs choices, therefore management determines culture.

Existing culture should never be accepted as “it is what it is” or “we will do the best with what we have”. Management (whether they like it or not) is responsible for building up or tearing down the culture of respect.

I’ve been asked many times, what comes first: showing respect or receiving it? The answer is always showing respect. It’s an easy answer but it’s probably the most difficult thing to do. Showing respect where there is none or little returned is not for the faint of heart. Carriers who conduct exit interviews are an example of those attempting to promote long term respect… at least those who don’t end up in a mutual shouting match.

There are still too many Carrier owners who believe burning a bridge is somehow justifiable. They become too emotionally involved in situations and make decisions based on anger and passion rather than long term judgment. They refuse to acknowledge that words and deeds get around. Anger and rejection today translates into turnover tomorrow.

This advice runs both ways of course. There are operators who have difficulty getting good Carriers to accept them because they have a history of disrespect. Changing ones behavior starts with a good dose of humility, honest and sincere humility, not the short term fake kind. Doors are almost always opened to those who hold the key of humility.

Robert Scheper

Robert D Scheper has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and is the author of two books, “Making Your Miles Count: Taxes, Taxes, Taxes” and "Making Your Miles Count: Choosing a Trucking Company".

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