Friday, 8 December 2017

Don’t Underestimate Your Ability to Influence Change

This Post First Appeared in the June 2017 edition of Truck News

 In April of 1970 David Brower founded Earth Day and coined the slogan “think globally, act locally”. It is a term that can be, and is, applied widely outside the environmental movement. According to New Geography the phrase “…..exemplifies the Millennial Generation’s outlook towards implementing societal changes on a direct, local level and their belief in changing the world one community at a time.”

Last month I ended my column with the words - A universal method of training & certification is the only way to manage this (technological) change in a way that will minimize disruption across the trucking industry while defining the job of the truck operator in a rapidly changing market. That’s what we need to attract new blood.

That statement is a global one not a local one. Big ideas are great but we need to be able to act on them as individuals to bring them to fruition. This is outside our individual sphere of influence. So what do we do if we want to influence change?

One way to influence change is to throw your support behind people like Shelley Uvanile-Hesch and the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada. (WTFC)

Shelley is a full time trucker and founder of WTFC. Don’t let the name of her organization deceive you, it is not for women only. Although its focus is to assist women breaking into the trucking industry it does so by focusing on training and mentorship. She brings together experienced truckers with newly licensed truckers, integrity based carriers, and training organizations. As she likes to say WTFC is about creating a network for drivers by drivers. The WTFC slogan is “Join our drive to drive”.

Whereas I have the privilege of presenting my thoughts and ideas in this column each month WTFC brings training to the front line. They do some great grassroots social media work such as creating mentoring groups that bring seasoned drivers and new drivers together. WTFC is a non-profit run by a board of professional drivers. WTFC provides a wonderful place for those interested in joining the trucking industry to go for a driver’s perspective on the industry. Go to the WTFC website and to their Facebook page to get the full picture.

Shelley and her associates in the women’s trucking movement deserve huge kudos for the efforts they are putting forth. They are making a difference while still driving full time. It’s a huge challenge for them. But this is what happens when drivers that live and breathe trucking get sick and tired of watching from the sidelines and jump in feet first to make a difference. We can support them and participate ourselves by becoming a member of their organization. This is an effective way to bring the expertise and experience of drivers to the cutting edge of the rapid changes that are happening right now in the trucking industry.

Another effective way to act out locally and influence change is to speak up within your own company. Don’t underestimate the power of your own voice. Any credible employer values the front line experience you bring to their organization. After all, you as a driver are the face of the company you work for. Don’t undervalue the importance of your position in this regard. In fact I’m surprised that we spend so little time bringing customer service training to the driver. How often do you as the driver end up solving customer service issues on the loading dock? It happens all the time. I have a feeling that drivers will be taking on a larger role on the customer service and public relations front as we move forward.

So joining organizations that represent the interest of drivers and speaking up as a driving professional within your own company are just two ways of acting out on a local level and influencing broader change. It’s incremental change, but it works.