Ask 100 different people, “What traits does a good leader possess?” and you’re guaranteed to get 100 different answers. It’s a subjective question, after all, one that will elicit diverse responses from everyone you ask, no matter how you phrase it.
In our industry, it’s oftentimes just as difficult to pinpoint what qualities a good fleet manager encompasses. We know they need to be multitaskers with excellent time management skills, and that they need to be goal chasers. But what else?
Below, we explore the top five traits the most outstanding fleet leaders possess so that as you build your team, you can find – and hire – the individuals best suited for the role.
1. They Embrace Technology
Paper files. Spreadsheets. Filing cabinets.
The mere mention of these outdated ways of managing drivers should cause the best fleet managers to run; these days, fleet management technology can make their jobs easier and save companies time and money.
Even small fleets are utilizing technology to help them better manage their drivers, all the way from hire to retire.
Right from the recruiting stage, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can make onboarding efficient and fast for both applicants and managers. Meanwhile, driver orientation can become more streamlined and efficient with e-learning that offers scenario-based testing and assessment tools, with detailed tracking and reporting on all drivers’ activities.
With a paperless workflow, compliance can be easier, as well. Maintaining compliant driver files is almost entirely automated – there’s no need to worry about non-compliance.
As more and more businesses go paperless, it’s worth examining whether or not your managers are open to adopting technology to streamline efficiencies and keep costs down. If they are, you’ll see productivity skyrocket and discover a great ROI.
2. They Have Excellent Communication Skills
In an industry where driver turnover is at an alarming all-time high, your fleet managers must boast excellent communication skills so they can ensure your drivers stay your drivers. This means effectively communicating all expectations – regarding timing, routes, etc. – clearly to every fleet member, and continuously asking for driver feedback.
While a manager’s day-to-day is demanding, your drivers depend on them to be a leader and to set an example; this also helps to promote a culture of safety and respect.
Today’s technology can help to keep those lines of communication open and ensure employees remain engaged, compliant and safe – even from the road.
3. They’re Lifelong Learners
The best leaders – and this goes for any industry – are always eager to grow, to improve and to learn. They’re keen to keep up-to-date on the latest best practices and are continuously looking for ways to better their skills.
We would go so far as to say that continuous education can be one of the most powerful tools a leader can possess. Without this trait, how can one expect to respond to the new and unexpected challenges they will undoubtedly encounter throughout their career?
4. They’re Goal-Oriented
The best managers set their sights on various professional (and personal) goals, knowing inherently that it’s not enough to settle for the status quo and that there’s always room for improvement.
This means continuously assessing the fleet’s overall performance and determining what needs to be done to improve productivity, driver satisfaction and overall communication, among many other things.
5. They Focus on Metrics
The best fleet managers will measure everything – transit time, labor productivity, loading/unloading time, maintenance costs, etc. – as a way to identify weak processes and set measurable goals. From there, they guide the way in supporting any processes changes that need to be put in place to achieve the desired outcomes.