The Keys To Proper Coaching – Part II

In our last installment of this Two-Part series, we looked at an important measure of truck driver success: Coaching. To ensure new truck drivers are up-to-speed on how they should operate commercial motor vehicles, fleets must put time and effort into taking care that they are properly coached.

While technology and matching up truck drivers are important, there is more that goes into coaching. This week we will move on from cost and technical requirements and look at the real red meat of coaching. How long does coaching take and what really matters? What should a motor carrier expect to gain out of an effective truck driver coaching program?

Evaluating the Time Required

To provide truly effective coaching as part of a comprehensive truck driver safety program, some time needs to be put into the process. You simply can’t sit two people together for a half-hour on a one-time basis and expect them to achieve a true level of training or behavior modification.

Of course, the amount of time spent on individual coaching sessions depends a lot on the fleet. How many vehicles is the fleet running? Where is the fleet located? How many new truck drivers are on the payroll? By addressing these questions, a fleet can properly determine how much time (and of course, the cost) required to get the necessary result.

Technology also plays a role, as we discussed in last week’s post. If a fleet is utilizing video elements to their coaching program, they must consider how long it will take to compile the video, watch the video, and coach to the outcomes. Ensuring a coaching solution includes a portal accessible through the web or mobile device can help fleet managers and coaches stay on top of coaching tasks and truck driver development.

Measuring Success

An effective coaching program does more than just sit two people together and hope for a positive outcome. Safety managers must come up with a scorecard by which both truck driver, and even their coaches, can be evaluated by. It is critical to measure what works, who is an effective coach, and whether the truck drivers being coached are absorbing the information being provided.

Did you know that nearly 80% of a fleet’s risk level comes from less than 20% of their driving force? Without a measurable coaching program that is tracked and evaluated, it is nearly impossible for a fleet to determine who those 20% are, outside of waiting for a collision to occur.

Coaches must be assigned a specific workflow. An effective program will help a fleet go from managing claims to preventing claims. Key performance indicators, surveys, benchmarks, and recognition for a job well done all go a long way to getting coaching buy-in and achieving real results.

Many fleets use a 4-step process to manage coaching:

  1. Watch the event twice using video. An understanding must be made regarding the particular behavior being witnessed on the video.
  2. Watch the event at least once with the truck driver so that they can walk you through what was going on in their mind when a particular event happens.
  3. Properly explain the risk associated with the particular behavior. Ensure the truck driver understands the risk and what could happen if the behavior continues.
  4. Properly document the coaching session, take notes, and log any metrics or performance indicators used in the coaching session.

Coaching is about making a lasting behavioral change. Fleets should be building their coaching program around effective coaching, but also effective follow-up. Coaching should never be a one-off situation, but rather an ongoing education session. Only by practicing these principles can motor carriers ensure their truck drivers are staying safe on the road and avoiding risky behaviors.