Engaging for Success

Over the past three months, I’ve had many interesting and enlightening phone calls with trucking executives from all over North America. Most of these conversations have been both pleasant and productive. Although the term ‘benchmarking’ is a relatively unknown term to many, almost every Owner or Executive I speak to is open to evaluating any tool which will potentially increase profitability, efficiency, or perhaps reduce overall corporate risk. However, I thought it would be interesting to share a conversation I had last week with an executive of a large Motor Carrier with multiple terminals throughout the Continent.

After exchanging pleasantries, and explaining the concept of Benchmarking and StakUp in particular, we proceeded to have the following conversation (paraphrased):

Me: Do you have any preferred metrics for managing your company’s success?
Manager: Yes, the P&L
Me: Great, so you provide copies of the P&L to each terminal manager? Or do you have separate P&Ls by terminal?
Manager: H#%^ No! Only I have access to that information, it’s none of their business!
Me: So how do the terminal managers know if they’re on the right track?
Manager: I either tell them to pull up their socks, or pat them on the back. If they don’t know how they’re doing, they should look somewhere else for a job.
Me: Do you have high turnover among your terminal managers?
Manager: *Silence
Me: What if I could provide you a solution that will translate all your most important financial yardsticks into easily understandable metrics for your managers to gauge themselves against?
……Hang Up……

To put this conversation in perspective, this company (based on their website) has over 500 power units and 10+ terminal locations. Further, it would appear that this manager has been with the company for over 25 years. From the outside looking in, this company appears to be profitable. However, if my conversation is any indication of their culture, I would suspect that there is substantial room for improvement. If this manager is treating his terminal managers this way, what is the probability that the terminal managers are, in turn, treating drivers in the same fashion. Complete financial transparency with all employees is not a recommended strategy, however many executives take employee engagement for granted. For the vast majority of your staff, they WANT to know how the company is doing. Further, once they know how the company is performing, the majority WANT to get better.

Luckily, the majority of executives I speak to share my philosophy on engagement and motivating for success.

Here is a great video by Daniel Pink on Motivating and Engaging Employees: