How to Turn Around Your Driver Referral Program

Found this quote on Wikipedia last week:

“Strong culture is said to exist where staff respond to stimulus because of their alignment to organizational values. In such environments, strong cultures help firms operate like well-oiled machines, engaging in outstanding execution with only minor adjustments to existing procedures as needed.
Conversely, there is weak culture where there is little alignment with organizational values, and control must be exercised through extensive procedures and bureaucracy.
Research shows that organizations that foster strong cultures have clear values that give employees a reason to embrace the culture. A “strong” culture may be especially beneficial to firms operating in the service sector.” Read more here: Organizational Culture

The key word in all of this in my mind is Values, every company has a visible set of values whether they know it or not. They may have formalized those values in a company statement or not –  they exist and they are visible in a multiple of ways (both positive and negative).

This is the essence of culture, you cannot impose values on to people, values develop over time and depend on one’s environment and life experience. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we typically align ourselves with people, friends,  spouses, and work environments that align with those values. When we don’t align ourselves in like values we struggle and typically we end up in divorce, leaving our jobs, leaving a misaligned community etc.

If you employ people or contract services, whether you realize it or not your most successful relationships likely mirror your own values. We like it when our values align it fits our comfort zone, we typically know what to expect and over time these relationship strengthen, we build a team we can depend on and get comfortable with, these relationships endure the test of time.

If your still reading this, then I haven’t bored you to the point you have turned the page then here is my point. I have tried to help many companies get their heads around why their efforts to have their current driving force assist in the recruiting of new drivers to their company, and show them why their efforts haven’t worked to the extent they expected they would like. Here is what most of them don’t realize, it is their culture that is restricting their results, among other things but primarily it comes back to culture.

If your culture is weak, I can guarantee you have poor communication channels, and likely no communications strategy within your business. A good communication strategy would encompass your drivers, contractors, employees, customers, suppliers, enforcement, and the communities you service. Sound like a monumental job, it really isn’t, it is quite easy in reality. It just takes focus and structure. If any of you has worked within a culture where communication is poor, you know that it is the worst situation you can be in, it is check your brain a the door and do no more or less than what you were hired for, it’s boring and unrewarding, it sucks.

Drivers who are asked to assist in recruiting new drivers to this type of company will resist for a number of reasons. Here are a few, first, and I think foremost they don’t have any confidence that you know how to run your business, they think you’re going to over hire and threaten their livelihood. I drove for ten years, I heard it over and over again, believe me this is true and if you have poor communication why wouldn’t they think that way? They’re in the dark about what you might need. You haven’t told them anything that is going to motivate them to help you. So why would they? Certainly not because you offered some “never-never” plan as a monetary incentive. The ones that pay a cent a mile for a year or quarterly installments designed to appear as though there is a windfall coming sometime in the future. I think some of these are designed to motivate drivers to recruit for the company, and to incentivize the driver to stay a little longer at a carrier to realize the future gain, how’s that working for you? My guess it does neither very effectively.

If your culture is strong, an effort to get driver to assist in the recruiting effort looks entirely different. First you have developed an inclusive value statement, you’ve done this by asking everyone in your business to contribute to it’s content, and you have asked them to bless the outcome, you’ve asked them. Does it cover their and your core values, can they work within the confines of it?

Secondly, your people know what is going on within the company because it has a strong communication strategy, it informs them, keeps them abreast of what it happening, it tries to involve community, customers, suppliers and (most importantly) reaches out to the individual employee’s families. You have told them, and they believe you when you say that your customers are busy and are demanding more trucks to service their needs. You need the additional drivers to keep the accounts you have, there is no threat to livelihood of the current drivers, and in fact, it is preservation of the account and their miles that you’re trying to achieve. If you have a brokerage operation, show everyone where that overflow freight is going – you have the data – give it to them. Stop playing your cards so close to your chest!

Finally, get rid of the “never-never” plan as an incentive to help your company hire new drivers; you pay cash, in full, the next pay period after the new recruit turns the first mile period. Your drivers have been schooled as to what type of individual you’re looking for, they have shown the potential candidate the value statement that the company works under. They have stressed whatever information you feel necessary that the potential new hire must understand and agree to be successful at your company. You screened them, you tested them, you accepted them, you put them in the truck, if the individual doesn’t workout how is that the driver’s problem? You owe them, pay them, you do it for your in house recruiters why not your on-road recruiters. Want to make an impact with on road recruiters; this is how to do it.