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How do driver training and HR fit together?

May 12, 2022
Companies that value attitude, listen to their employees, and provide opportunities reap rewards in operations, and the resulting revenue

Human Resources management and training—whether in-person or virtual—rely on collaboration to function effectively and efficiently.

According to Dirk Kupar, CEO of TruckRight, the purpose of training is to establish a relationship, and investing in people is important to who you are as a company. So he insists recruiters put themselves in the shoes of the individual drivers they recruit and discuss what they’re looking for in a company to better understand their specific needs.

“A recruiter may tell a driver that they’re looking to have them drive 500 miles back and forth, Monday through Friday, and that they’ll be home at six o’clock every night,” Kupar said. “The recruiter might think that is the perfect schedule—and it might be for that driver—but that might not work at all for another driver.

“You need to actively frame your strategy with every driver and be transparent.”

Mark Murrell, president of CarriersEdge, builds on Kupar’s perspective, digging into the subject of hiring for skills vs. attitude. “This is commonplace outside of trucking and is a general recruiting practice,” he said. “We see it in the tech world all the time. Because there’s such a shortage of tech staff, you hire for attitude, and you teach the tech skills.”

Attitude is everything

Murrell outlines three components that define a successful hire: basic competency in applied skills, interest in doing the job as it stands, and humility to learn how the company does things and why. Murrell said if new hires don’t have the right attitude, and aren’t interested in learning properly, they’re not going to get anywhere. “The applied skills are one part of it, but interest and humility are far more important because if somebody is interested in doing the job, they’re motivated and excited about doing the work, and have enough humility, they’re going to learn your processes and do it your way and respect that you have a certain way of doing things.”

Added Kupar: “Trucking, unfortunately, focuses more on hiring for skills, partly out of necessity. But who is the human being that you’re hiring? And do they understand what you’re looking for?”

For the idea of development vs. training, there is a misconception that training isn’t as tied to onboarding as people often think it is. Murrell experienced this in the Best Fleets to Drive For program enough times to change the question in the professional development section of the questionnaire regarding what training drivers receive. “The answer used to be heavily skewed toward onboarding,” he said. “We got to a point where we said don’t tell us about onboarding.”

Through the program, Murrell asked carriers to elaborate on what training people receive after the first year. “It’s a wholly different answer because some carriers aren’t providing much training after orientation. If that’s the case, then what happens to the drivers who have been with you for five to 10 years and the only training they have is during Year 1? You never further develop their skills.”

Continuing to train drivers means continuing to improve efficiency, and efficiency equals profit in the industry. Historically, carriers look at training as a task that needs to be done to satisfy their insurance company, because law enforcement wants to see it, or to have documentation of safety practices if the company finds itself in court. While that may be the case, companies that have an ongoing professional development program have a greater chance of their drivers sticking around because they see the company investing in them.

That, in return, reflects positively in operations and revenue.

Listen to drivers

When it comes to HR, Kupar suggests listening to the person you’re addressing, and trying to understand what they’re looking for. “I was an owner-operator earlier in my career, and at one point I had 12 of my trucks running with a company,” Kupar recalled. “One day, the owner of the company I contracted with talked to me about an opportunity to develop the driver service. He knew I was looking for more, and he was paying attention to me as an individual. I was communicating what I was looking for and he gave me the opportunity.”

Kupar said there are a lot of people in the industry who had someone in the office hear them and give them an opportunity. “Pay attention to the people and give them what they are looking for,” Kupar continued. “Be mindful of everyone working around you. If a driver wants to get into logistics or diesel tech, hear them out.

“Your office people need to be trained to listen to the individual.”

About the Author

BT staff