Creating a Career Path for Drivers: Why It's Important

Posted by Mark G. Gardner on July 13, 2018 in the category Recruiting, Retention, Millennial Drivers

20180713-Career Path for Drivers

As you may know, 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age every day. Meanwhile, the transportation industry struggles to find new recruits. In the past few years, it has turned its attention to finding younger applicants, otherwise known as millennials. One of the most profound generational differences between baby boomers and millennials, is that millennials want opportunities to grow and develop. Unlike their parents, they aren’t looking for a steady job to last them the next three decades.

So how can the industry attract new blood? What can we do to make the job more attractive for millennials? Are there any opportunities to learn and grow? Or, is professional driving a dead-end job? To answer these questions, we'll take a deeper look.

Chances are pretty good that if you’re reading this blog you’re a supervisor, manager or executive at a transportation company. How come? How did you get there? Were you recruited off a college campus? Was it a purposeful drive to get into transportation, or just dumb luck? Maybe you followed my career path.

I started on the docks of Cleveland in the old LTL days. I had some talent and worked my butt off. But that wasn’t enough to get ahead. In fact, I could still be there working 12-hour shifts.

Fortunately, I got a few lucky breaks and just happened to be in the right place at the right time on several occasions.

In the real world, you don’t get promoted just because you’re a superstar. You get promoted when somebody dies, gets fired or quits. A departure creates an opening. At moments like this, the boss usually looks at the existing workforce and chooses the smartest, hardest-working employee to fill the role. So just being good and working hard isn’t enough. One way or another, somebody above you needs to go.

I read recently that more than 50% of all supervisors and managers in the trucking industry started as drivers. This isn’t unusual. In most industries the best hourly workers eventually become front-line supervisors. And of course, the best supervisors eventually become managers and so on.

The promotional process continues and, according to the Peter Principle, people continue to rise until they reach their own personal level of incompetence. Once they get there, they stay because they’re no longer viewed as promotable.

How can we help drivers take that first big step two move into supervision? Is there some commonly-accepted practice in place? I doubt it. Transportation is a basic business. And, most transportation companies have fewer than 200 drivers. It’s unlikely that such small companies have sophisticated systems for succession planning or career pathing. Congratulations if you do!

The logical first step for a motivated driver is to become a driver instructor. But what’s the process? And once chosen, how do they learn the job?

Most people think there’s a driver shortage, but if you’ve ever read anything on our website, you know that we don’t agree. We contend there isn’t a driver shortage but rather a driver problem. Annual driver turnover remains stubbornly stuck above 100% in the Truckload sector. That’s a problem. And, it’s getting worse by the day. If you want to grow your applicant pool your best hope is to attract millennials. The best way to do that is to offer them opportunities to learn and grow.

Even if you don’t have a fully developed career planning process for your drivers, you can take the first step by offering them an opportunity to become a LLLC Certified Instructor. LLLC Certification is unlike any other defensive driving system. It’s modern, easy to learn and effective at reducing accidents and injuries.

Implementing the LLLC Instructor and Driver Certification Process will help you reduce accidents and injuries and improve driver retention at the same time. There are only so many office positions available and not every driver wants to sit behind a desk. LLLC Instructor and Driver Certification are a great tools to provide a career path for drivers at your companies. And it will help you expand your applicant pool to attract millennials who are always looking for opportunities for growth and development.

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