What Changes Are You Planning to Make?

Welcome to 2020, I hope it’s a good year for all of you. In looking back I feel as though 2019 went by very quickly and with little or no notoriety, for me anyway. Business was sluggish, freight levelled off, yadda and yadda. Markets are strong but I don’t follow them too closely. I find that I am much better off when I take only a cursory look at the markets and the news for that matter, but then it’s also hard to communicate when you aren’t up to speed on a lot of the minutia. I love the sentiment coming from an interview I saw recently about the actor Denzel Washington. He was being mobbed by reporters and he pontificated that the media has screwed things up; he stated that if you don’t read the news you are uninformed and if you do read the news in the newspapers, you are misinformed. He went on to suggest that being the first to announce the newest scandal has taken priority over being accurate. I think he nailed it with this sentiment.

One thing that I can share on a brighter note, for me anyway, is the fact that my new role as retention coach at TCA is going well and I am enjoying it more and more each day. Something that has opened my eyes in this new role is that there are many commonalities in the companies that have turnover issues that I have dealt with. For the most part, they suffer from poor communication strategies, lack of direction, structure, commitment and focus.

I have also gained respect for those companies that are open to new ideas and systems; the ones that make innovation part of their culture. Typically in this industry, we will let everyone else test the waters before we entertain the possibility of the indoctrination of a new process or system. I thoroughly understand the old analogy of pioneers being the ones with arrows in their back but by the same token, none of us would be where we are today if we hadn’t taken a little risk in our lives and our businesses.

Along this vein, I developed a strategy that worked for me in deciding on whether or not to try a new product or service and this works whether you are an Owner-Operator or a fleet owner. It is the comparison of the risk factor versus the reward factor. In the difficult decisions I have had to make in my career, I have typically drawn a line horizontally down the middle of a page and on the top of the page, I write what the new service, procedure or product is that I am considering moving forward with and under that, I articulate in one short sentence what I see as the potential benefit of this change including the projected ROI (Return on Investment). The rest is pretty simple in that on one side of the page I write the pros and on the other side the cons concerning the implications of making this decision and when done, I put it aside for a least 24 hours and think it through. The other method I use a lot when time is of the essence and I need to move quickly is the smell test. I look things over as completely as I can and then try and find where it stinks! Sounds simple and sometimes it is but other times it’s not so easy. The root of all of this is that there are times when you just need to trust your gut; your natural instinct and that isn’t always easy.

As I have shared in the past, in my younger years I was intimidated by people with education and academic credentials. Here I was, this young trucker who never made an effort to succeed academically, sitting around boardroom tables with lawyers and Chartered Accountants talking to bank managers. It took me a number of years to learn that all the education in the world will not begin to replace common sense and the courage to follow your natural instinct and unwavering passion. I remember when we decided that we would start a company and apply for an operating authority. I went and spoke to two professionals; one was a transportation lawyer in London and the other a Chartered Accountant and both had a transportation background. They both told me to play it safe and not try it; of course, we didn’t listen and went ahead anyway; the gut instinct was too strong.

As you reflect on 2019 and look ahead to 2020, what changes will you make to be a better person, businessperson and family member? I learned early on that there is no status quo in life; you are either moving ahead or you’re backing up. So, a simple question? Are you better off now than you were one year ago? If the answer to that question is no, then what are you going to do in 2020 that will improve your results? My apologies for stating this very old and worn out quote but as Einstein stated: “the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result”.

I hope you were happy with last year’s results and that you’re in a better place than one year ago and if so, congratulations. If you’re not, it just might be time to give some thought as to how you can change things up and plot a new course to greener pastures.

All the best for 2020 and,
Safe Trucking

Ray J. Haight

About Ray J. Haight

Areas of Focus: Operations, Recruiting & Retention, Human Resources With a career spanning four decades, Ray has been involved in all facets of the North American Trucking Industry.