As a motor carrier safety manager, your daily routine involves putting out a near-constant barrage of business brush fires. One day you may say to yourself, “today is the day we’ll get to the root of the problem,” then a report comes in of an overnight accident, and suddenly today becomes tomorrow.
The fact is, managing safety and training for a large trucking fleet means you are nearly always feeling the time crunch. While there’s a ton to do on a strategic level, you’ve also got to be getting your hands dirty in the nitty-gritty aspects of the job.
In such a fast-paced, high pressure environment, how do you excel? How will you know you are making a difference as you juggle priorities, manage tasks and try to keep the operation running smoothly and safely at the same time? After all, your fleet’s CSA scores may be at stake.
First, we can tell you what not to do. No matter what the big picture is, or what plan or try to execute, even your best safety program intentions can fail if you:
- Don’t have any top-down leadership support already in place.
- Don’t have full buy-in from rank-and-file employees and middle managers.
- Have a lack of focus.
- Are trying to do too many things at once.
- Aren’t tracking your results.
- Are poorly executing your plans.
It’s no secret: success for safety and training efficacy are both tough to measure. Because when you do your job right, nothing should happen. Once you start measuring performance, however, numbers become clear.
Have Laser-like Focus
When you are operating in a time-crunched environment, being able to focus on the important item on hand can be difficult. Having proper focus means sticking to your priorities. Don’t start a new project or safety initiative if you don’t have the bandwidth on your calendar to manage it.
Whether you have to finish an existing project or outsource the new one to a fellow co-worker, keep a laser-like focus on the task at hand. Sometimes you may even to abandon projects to ensure you stay committed to the ones currently on your plate. Being able to determine which projects are more needed than others is a necessary skill for any safety manager.
The key thing is to always ask yourself: “If we don’t pursue this one initiative, what will be the result?” or “If I shift my resources from this project to that project, how will that impact my current analysis?”
Having laser-like focus means you may have to make hard decisions about old processes and outdated habits. As fleet managers have had to come to grips with the marriage of trucking and technology, so do fleet safety managers.
The Case For Outsourcing
Never be afraid to shift your workload according to the needs of your fleet. In one instance, you may outsource any non-injury and non-tow away incidents to someone like a dispatcher or even an operator manager.
Safety managers are provided with even more opportunities to shift the burden where training is concerned. Perhaps you can divvy up the creation of training content to other partners. Or maybe you can opt to travel less to distribution centers and move most of your basic or entry-level new-hire training into an online portal.
The key is to create a list and prioritize your safety pain points. For example, if your employees are all exhibiting a similar behavior that could be putting safety at risk, what’s the reason? Is it a lack of knowledge or simple carelessness? Always categorize your incidents from large to small and know exactly where they fit in your overall analysis.
In the end, whether you are a time-crunched safety manager looking for every last second, or a seasoned veteran sitting in a quiet office, keep these tips in mind as you take the safety of your organization to the next level.