Drivers enjoying training? That's crazy!
April 24, 2018
It seems to be commonly accepted that drivers don't like training, and don't want to do it. I've been hearing that ever since we entered this industry, and I still hear it pretty regularly now.
I've never believed that, though, and the data seems to back me up on this.
While I hear this refrain from a variety of different groups - driver trainers, risk consultants, insurance people - the one group I don't hear it from is drivers. In fact, every year in the Best Fleets to Drive For program we see a significant percentage of drivers who feel the opposite. This year, 91.2% of surveyed drivers agreed that ongoing training is very important.
So why do people think drivers don't like the training? The answer is fairly simple, actually. Drivers don't like BAD training, and there's a lot of really bad training in the trucking industry.
Yeah, I said it.
I've been sitting on that for 12 years, and it feels good to get it off my chest!
Death-by-Powerpoint lectures, condescending videos, content that just regurgitates the regulations - there's a wide range of abominations that drivers are forced to sit through on a regular basis. I wouldn't want to sit through it, so I'm not surprised that they're not interested either. However, that doesn't mean they don't want ANY training. They just don't want their time wasted with subpar experiences.
A recent experience underscored that distinction.
Truck World 2018
Last weekend we exhibited at Truck World 2018, a large truck show in Toronto. The show was the biggest I've seen it, with more than 500 exhibitors filling every available booth, and thousands of people walking through each day. While Truck World is a "driver" show, with lots of equipment suppliers and fleets recruiting, we exhibit there as well. It's our local show, and it provides a great opportunity to meet with partners and customers that are attending, so it's always worthwhile (even though it's exhausting).
My favourite part of the show is the drivers who come by our booth. Every time we exhibit at Truck World we have a healthy number of drivers who stop by our booth to talk about our service. They're drivers who work for fleets that use our service and they stop by the booth to talk about the product itself. Sometimes it's a short conversation where they stop by to say how much they like it, and how well it's working out for them. Sometimes they're interested in getting more content and want to know how to do that. Sometimes they want to discuss the content itself. A few of them remind me that I feature as a character in some of the courses, and comment on how much older I look now (I'm less enamored of those visitors).
What I love is the fact that they're engaged and positive about it. They're certainly not obligated to stop and have these conversations - our booth is pretty centrally located but people could easily walk by it without stopping or saying anything, and they could definitely complain if they wanted to. I find it really cool that they take the time to stop and talk to us.
Don't get me wrong - I enjoy when the customer administrators (the trainers and safety people who manage the service within their companies) come and talk to us, but when the drivers stop by, that's the victory.
We spend a lot of time working on streamlining the experience for drivers, and creating content that gives them an effective education experience, because we want them to get value out of it, and come back for more. When drivers come to our booth and tell us that they're enjoying the content, or ask for more, then I know that we're succeeding.
I said above that I didn't believe drivers don't want training, and the drivers that come by our booth validate that position. They enjoy the learning, they want to discuss it, and they want more of it. They don't want their time wasted with poorly organized, unclear, patronizing material, but when they have clear, concise content that treats them like intelligent professionals, they're all for it.
So, if drivers aren't responding to the training the way you want them to, it could be that the material itself is the problem. Good training takes time to build, but it's certainly worth the investment. Whether you're developing in-house, or sourcing material from outside vendors, good quality content can be the difference between drivers who grudgingly endure it and drivers who are actively engaged endorsers.
I certainly prefer seeing the latter.