HR Rules For Success

My consulting business has taken me into many companies over the past few years and aside from the normal concerns about volume, rates and profitability, a common issue which prevails is HR (Human Resources) and the management of all the people in the company. There have been thousands of books written on this subject by people who are much brighter than I am, but I thought I would add my two cents worth.

No matter how big or small the company or what sector of the economy the business operates within, there is a basic business principle that applies to leadership roles, and this basic principle also applies to the trucking industry. If you want your company to behave in a certain manner, then you should conduct yourself in a manner that is conducive to achieving the required result.

What I am sharing with you, many companies go through during strategy development and while they create their Mission, Vision and Values statement. The idea being that once you have defined what you are trying to achieve as a company, you then break it down into what you need to do to get there and how to get everyone pointing in the right direction. That being said, understanding the principles I am sharing with you here will help any company’s performance and will free up scores of time that might otherwise be lost to the minutia of office politics.

Every person who goes to work deserves the right to be successful and to enjoy doing their daily toil. People inherently want to be good, they want to be successful in the job they have taken on and they want to be recognized for their effort. If you are a manager and don’t believe these two statements then you are in the wrong role.

If you believe that your employees, Drivers and Owner Operators give you a strategic advantage in your marketplace, you already know what you are about to read and I am sure I could learn many things from you. If you consider these same people to be a necessary evil then you need to study the following set of rules carefully. True sustainable success will only come when everyone in your company contributes to the results of a job well done and do not simply rely on the leadership of a single individual.

Rule # 1: I used to tell all of the managers who worked for me that their job as a department head was to make their own jobs obsolete – and only then would they be truly successful. They were often confused but I would explain that I think it is important for each manager to develop their individual team to the point where their team is truly self-sufficient, capable of performing the job at hand and meeting all of the goals and challenges posed to them on a daily basis.

Rule # 2: Decide what success looks like for any given role in your department. Write it out as a role description as it’s hard to measure if a person is doing what you want when they have never been told or, better yet, received it written on paper. This document should list their responsibilities, define the task required, their working relationship with their peers and explain their decision making scope. You should hire for that role and when you do you should have the candidate read the description, provide input and then have both parties sign it. You just created accountability!

Rule # 3: Develop SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) for all of the reoccurring procedures that happen throughout the day. This takes some work but it simplifies your life as a manager and relieves pressure on the people who work for you. The SOP should include the circumstance and justification for the SOP; provide steps to be taken in the process and any other necessary information. Management drafts the procedure, employees add their input and the result becomes the rule for how things should be done in any given situation.

Rule # 4: Process, Process, Process. Managers who used to report to me would tire of me saying the following: “When things go wrong, 95% of the time it will be because our process let us down, not our people”. It is human nature to go looking for bad guys when the chicken feathers hit the fan but what a grandiose waste of time this usually is. If you believe in the ground rules set out in this article and believe that people inherently want to do well, then the investigation into the problem should start with the process or SOP that you have in place for the situation because usually, it is here where you will find the root of the issue. If, after investigation, it is determined that the problem was caused by someone not following the process, then you have a performance issue with an individual that needs to be addressed.

Rule # 5: Ensure that your people have all the tools they need to succeed including your support. Have you ever asked your people this simple statement: “What can I do to help you be more successful today”? It’s your job as a manager to provide new technology, new training or whatever it takes. Showing your people that you are pulling for their success is more important than you can imagine.

When I looked back on the years I was in business and the many successes and accolades that I was fortunate to have enjoyed, I most cherish the memories of the people I had the pleasure of working with and managing, specifically those whom I knew had talent that they themselves didn’t even recognize. To challenge those folks and watch them rise through the ranks still gives me goosebumps, as it should all true mangers. Can you see how this applies to your company?

Safe trucking!
Ray J. Haight
Haight Consulting Group
Past Chariman TCA