Connect and connection are two different things aren’t they? When we talk about “connect”, a few things come to mind. In the trucking industry, we connect in all sorts of ways. Connecting to the internet is usually the first thing we think of. In a literal sense, a physical thing we attach ourselves to, that makes us feel that we are a part of something.

Here are some examples:

Connecting to our phones, cameras, emails, or social media outlets. All of these things are material, physical things on the outside, that give us a sense of being. How many people do you know, that are connected to the hip with their cell phones. They live, eat, and breathe their phones. If they misplaced or lost them, they would loose their mind, or have major stress and anxiety until they located it. They may even feel that they are lost, disconnected, or out of touch with that sense of being a part of something that they may miss for a period of time. This is a real thing for a lot of people.

In trucking, we use a variety of tools to stay connected to our people, such as cell phones, emails, onboard satellite technology, which gives us the ability to stay connected to the drivers anytime we need to. There is vehicle technology that can notify us when something goes wrong with the truck. Engine diagnostics, which can inform us of an engine failure, onboard cameras systems, which can be our eyes on the road, in case of an accident, a driver issue, or an insurance claim.

All of these things keep us connected to our people and equipment, so we think. But what about the “connection” to your people, aka, your drivers?

When we think about “connection”, again, we tend too default to the outer, and not really concern ourselves with the inner connection of people. This is one of the most important parts of our business, and life itself. We all know what life has been like through Covid. So many restrictions and mandates, that prevented us from having any contact with friends or family for 2 years. How did this affect you?

There has been a lot of anxiety and stress that has come from this period of time. When it comes to drivers, most of what I hear from them is that the company doesn’t care about them, and that all they care about is “profit over people”. In many cases, this is true. How does that environment affect the driver? How do they feel, what are they thinking? How does it affect their productivity? Productivity will most likely go down, and they will feel unhappy. When this happens, they will typically become negative, and or start looking for another place to work, because they are’t fulfilled. The younger generation is looking to be part of a greater cause. Something that will inspire them to get out of bed everyday. This is where having a good corporate culture comes in.

This reminds me of a story that I will share with you. Recently I met a man who is from India. I had never seen him before. We started talking, and I asked him how long he had been in Canada. He said not long. We talked about trucking. He told me of his reason for entering the trucking industry. It was to help his family. He inspires to become a company owner within five years. I told him why I do what I do, to make a difference in the trucking industry in a positive way. The point I am making here is that the reason this man was doing what he was doing, was very from his heart, and not for money. This was very inspiring. He had that entrepreneurial spirit.

We had a heartfelt connection, with a brief conversation, but very meaningful. This is what I mean by “connection”. He asked a lot of questions about the trucking industry, and I was happy to answer them. We talked about life in general. I love hearing about people and their culture. It is so different from the western way of thinking. I made a new friend that day, and we will talk again soon in the future. I believe that people come into your life for a reason. They are there for a purpose, so watch for the signs.

I’m sure that some of you have had a connection with a complete stranger, and have tried to understand what that was all about. It only happens with certain people. Those certain people are there, at that moment, for a reason. What happens to most, is that they are not watching for the signs, it walks right past them, and they don’t see it.

In the trucking industry, having a connection with your people is just as important. If you care about your people, they will care about you. They will be highly productive, happier, and promote your business to the end of the earth. Remember, if you want a long lasting driving force, then the new way of doing business is “people over profit”, not the other way around.

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Dana G. Smith, CC

Dana G Smith CC is a Certified Relationship Coach/Consultant and co-creator of The Mindful Trucker, helping companies and professional drivers with better Health, Safety, Wellness & Driver Solutions.