Bi­son

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - CAREERS -

Q: Are there any spe­cific peo­ple chal­lenges that you are fo­cus­ing on right now?

A: Our in­dus­try con­tin­ues its strug­gle with the is­sue of driver re­ten­tion. In the very worst case, there are fleets in the U.S. that ac­tu­ally bud­get for 100-per-cent driver turnover ev­ery year — and they hope to hit bud­get. By com­par­i­son, we have about a 73-per-cent re­ten­tion rate, which puts us solidly in the top quar­tile, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still strug­gling with hav­ing an ad­e­quate num­ber of driv­ers. It’s a tough ca­reer fac­tor­ing in the ab­sence from fam­ily, and it’s not un­com­mon to lose driv­ers who pre­fer go­ing from long-dis­tance to short-dis­tance hauls or ask­ing for a dif­fer­ent job that en­sures they can be home for din­ner ev­ery night. Q: Has try­ing to re­solve this prob­lem opened the door to any new op­por­tu­ni­ties?

A: Be­cause of the in­dus­try-wide driver short­age, we’ve had to be­come more in­no­va­tive to com­pete. His­tor­i­cally, it was one driver per truck, but we’ve changed our model to uti­lize more ef­fi­cient sched­ul­ing and rout­ing so that no one has to make a 10-day round trip; they’re gone for only a day or two at a time. On top of us­ing state-of-theart sim­u­la­tors for driver train­ing, our trucks are fully au­to­mated and read­ily driven; they’re not gear-jam­ming, shift-with-the-clutch units any­more so they’re not as phys­i­cally tax­ing on the driver as in years gone by. As a re­sult, we are wit­ness­ing an evo­lu­tion in driv­ers. We’ve had re­tired bankers, teach­ers, real­tors, fire­fight­ers, po­lice of­fi­cers and mil­i­tary per­son­nel want­ing to drive a truck as their sec­ond ca­reer. There’s still a ro­man­tic no­tion of be­ing out on the open road that ap­peals to many peo­ple. And for some­one who may have re­tired at age 50, it be­comes a way for them to earn money, stay pro­duc­tive, plus go out and see North Amer­ica. Q: What lead­er­ship ad­vice have you re­ceived that you care to share with oth­ers?

A: I have been for­tu­nate to work with a num­ber of great busi­ness lead­ers, both dur­ing my ca­reer and in my time serv­ing on the boards in the com­mu­nity in­clud­ing Cen­treport Canada, the Assini­boine Park Con­ser­vancy and Prov­i­dence Col­lege — and each per­son and ex­pe­ri­ence has taught me some­thing valu­able. I would say that the great­est piece of wis­dom would be to spend more time lis­ten­ing than talk­ing. Fo­cus on other peo­ple and their strengths, and al­low your­self to rely on those strengths.

I would also add that it’s nec­es­sary for your peo­ple to view you as ap­proach­able. As se­nior lead­ers, we some­times for­get how un­ap­proach­able we can be per­ceived as and we need to take con­sci­en­tious steps to re­move any “ivory tower” bar­ri­ers. You want to be at a level of com­fort and in­for­mal­ity with em­ploy­ees so they know it’s OK to talk with you and while you’re around. That’s why my door is rarely closed and why I’m of­ten out­side my of­fice in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple. That’s also why one of our core Bi­son fam­ily val­ues is fun. We all want to work in an en­vi­ron­ment that’s not un­like what we go home to — a place where we have re­spect, dig­nity, ac­cep­tance, and yes, fun too.

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