Why Driver Managers are the Perfect Fit for the Role of Driver Coach

Originally published in Fleet Management Weekly 08/06/2019

By Jim Noble, VP of Risk Engineering, eDriving

What interests the boss fascinates the worker

Road safety is moving in the wrong direction, and our unsafe driving habits are contributing to this. We know that about 94% of crashes are caused by incorrect driver behavior and attitudes – not skills – and, because of this, attempting to improve driver skills is not the solution.

Instead, it’s guiding drivers to safer attitudes and behaviors that will have a lasting impact on road safety, and one of the ways to encourage drivers to form good habits is through coaching.

Consider this: people tend to remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear and 30% of what they see. But they tend to remember 90% of what they do.

What is coaching?

Coaching isn’t about setting up one-off training sessions; it’s about having conversations with people that help them make progress and about helping others to make decisions, commit to actions and produce results. In short, it’s about connecting with people and empowering them.

From personal experience, I know how a good coach can make you feel and how a good coach can help you achieve a goal. And, research tells us that direct reports of effective coaches outperform other employees and typically stay longer with a company. Yet only about 20% of companies use coaching effectively. Why? Managers frequently say that it takes too much time, they’re not sure how to coach or they think it’s only good for under-performing employees.

Coaching doesn’t have to be daunting

Most of the time coaching is about drawing out what someone already knows versus teaching them something new. Think about professional sportspeople such as NFL players who go to intense training camps. They’re not there to learn how to play football; they’re there to learn how to use their skills to effectively execute the game plan of the coaches. It’s known as the “Inside Out” Approach; this gets people to act on the talents, skills and knowledge they already have, in comparison to the “Outside In” approach that is about telling or giving advice.

You’re qualified for this; yes really

You might be concerned that you’re not qualified to have these conversations with your drivers because you’re not a road safety instructor. Wrong; you’re the perfect person to have these conversations with your drivers. At eDriving we have a favorite saying; what interests the boss fascinates the worker. That simply means that whatever the boss is focused on and considers high priority is probably what their employees also consider high priority. It’s important for you as a manager to facilitate these conversations with your direct reports because they’re more likely to listen when it comes from you. You understand their day-to-day activities, you know about their personal lives and you have those intimate connections with them.

Just like the rest of your management duties, you don’t have to be an industry expert. Instead, your role is to lead and to help your drivers understand why they are experiencing performance problems. Safe driving conversations should be very similar to the conversations you have about any other employee performance problem. Examples of a safe driver performance problem include a low FICO® Safe Driving Score, a declining DriverINDEX® score, a negative event on a driver’s Motor Vehicle Record or, the most obvious, a collision or incident. Most people don’t get a speeding ticket because they don’t know how to follow the speed limit; it’s their attitudes and behaviors that tell them that speeding is OK. So, for the most part, your coaching doesn’t need to focus on techniques on how to drive but instead focus on driver attitudes and safer behaviors.

Forging coaching habits for effective results

If you are thinking you cannot possibly add coaching to your already overflowing workload, think about the time it takes to complete incident reports, reschedule work and call customers to tell them your driver will not be there due to a crash. If your intent is to encourage employees to forge new habits then, as a potential coach, you need to do the same. For example, scheduling coaching sessions, checking in periodically for feedback and using tools to monitor performance. With an effective coaching approach, you can expect to experience faster, more efficient results, see stronger employee engagement, your high-performance habits are going to be leveraged more consistently and you’ll maximize your time and costs or expenses. Most importantly you’ll ultimately have safer employees who drive for work purposes.

When a driver does suffer a performance failure such as a collision/incident or continuous low FICO® Safe Driving Scores, eDriving provides Pro-Coaching to help your drivers understand the more technical aspects of what went wrong and how they can better use their skills to be a better defensive driver in the future.

About eDriving

eDriving helps organizations to reduce collisions, injuries, license violations and Total Cost of Ownership through a patented driver risk management program. Mentor by eDriving’s comprehensive solution provides actionable behavioral insights to help organizations build a total view of driver risk within a company-wide crash-free culture®.

eDriving is the driver risk management partner of choice for many of the world’s largest organizations, supporting 1,000,000+ drivers in 96 countries with research-validated solutions recognized by 70+ client awards.