During the TCA Annual Convention I was lucky enough to be in the audience for a General session entitled “Creating a Dedicated Skilled Workforce”. This panel session featured Karen Smerchek (President of Veriha Trucking), Brent Nussbaum of Nussbaum Transportation, and Steve Hitchcock, COO of Duncan and Son Lines. This panel was actively moderated by Jim Ward, President & CEO of DM Bowman. Although the premise of the session was building a skilled workforce with driver value proposition as a main feature. The panelist went off in many, very interested directions.
One key path that I focused on was when Jim Ward brought up the fact that Veriha trucking had an abnormally high percentage of female and millennials in their office and on the road. As Jim reinforced, the percentage of women in leadership roles has continued to be low in trucking. Further the workforce in general has shown a continued disdain for the growing population of millennials in the workforce. Considering these two facts, Karen was quick to point out that these two groups are not a result of a novel strategy. It was a gradual tide that has led to a renewed and thriving business. Of course, trucking isn’t conducted in vacuum, so you have to give some props to the strong market. With that being said, I think Veriha’s workforce diversity could be a great indicator of the future of trucking.
During the session, Ms. Smercheck mentioned one term that struck a cord with me – Emotional Intelligence. Her hypothesis was that women have a higher Emotional Intelligence than males, which (paraphrased) leads to continued introspection and empathy for fellow team members. Without going into the rabbit hole of gender stereotypes, I think she is spot on in this regard.
Building on this thought, here is the Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of Emotional Intelligence:
“the ability to understand the way people feel and react and to use this skill to make good judgments and to avoid or solve problems”
Now, let’s put that definition in context. Without fail, every person I speak to these days say the same thing (essentially) – “I have tons of demand, at great rates, but am short on driversLess pedigree more people skills
So, as a trucking industry leader, if you have finished this post with some lingering skepticism, or perhaps a realization that your Emotional Intelligence quotient is low, maybe you should start thinking of hiring more with a higher quotient. Maybe your next company President is female, maybe she is a millennial, maybe she is currently serving you coffee at the local Starbucks. Trucking needs new blood, and different opinions.