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The Madness of March: Tips to Win the (Coaching) Tourney

| March 11, 2020

SmartDrive shares tips for how fleet safety managers can effectively coach their drivers to ensure everyone makes it home safely

The excitement of college basketball playoffs is mere weeks away. While not much can match the annual thrills associated with the single elimination NCAA tournament, there’s no doubt that what happens on the sidelines will have significant implications for on-court play—and final standings. As it is in this venerable Division 1 extravaganza, coaching is imperative to the success of the best fleet safety programs.

In this era of nuclear verdicts and skyrocketing insurance premiums, a laser focus on safety is a must, and keeping an eye on the prize (getting every driver home safely) means making sure coaching is top notch. The following seven tips will help ensure your driver coaching moves beyond “good” to “great.”

A good coach is self-aware. Understanding oneself, one’s coaching style – and how it is perceived and received by employees – is a critical first step to becoming a valuable and effective coach.

A good coach brings specific and well-defined issues to the attention of others. Being vague about problem areas – or failing to address them with the appropriate parties – suggests a reluctance to affect positive change and a lack of leadership.

A good coach prepares for each session with information, examples, ideas, etc., and is ready for discussion. Coaching sessions should be scheduled in advance, and the coach should have a solid agenda for each session that lays out the mission for the day. Without structure, the coaching session can devolve into a casual conversation with no real substance or direction.

A good coach treats individuals as partners in the organization, encouraging their input and trusting them to carry out assignments. Some coaches are fans of “tough love,” while others are more lenient, but what all good coaches have in common is respect for others. Contempt and resentment have no place in an effective coaching relationship, and only breed further conflict.

A good coach knows the strengths and weaknesses of his or her drivers. Much like the coaches that will lead their teams to the lauded Final Four®, the best driver coaches know how to tap into the individual strengths of employees. The net-net? As will happen at on the hard maple at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on April 6, in commercial transportation, great coaches get the most out of their team, collectively and individually.

A good coach makes expectations clear at the beginning (and end!) of the coaching session. Both the coach and the driver must have a sense that this meeting has a distinct purpose, and must agree on what that purpose is, for the session to proceed smoothly. Similarly, it’s always helpful to clarify the key takeaway or action items when the meeting wraps, ensuring coach and driver can more easily track improvement.

A good coach allows enough time to adequately discuss issues and concerns. Blocking out enough time for a solid session, rather than squeezing it in and rushing through, shows respect for the employee’s time and allows them to participate more thoughtfully. If a driver cannot come to the office for coaching, consider using a driver remote app so he/she can engage in self coaching.

So, this year, as you tune into the games—even if you don’t get really into it until the Sweet 16—think about parallels to your coaching style. If you ever wake up and wonder if your coaching is making a difference, remember what UCLA’s legendary John Wooden said, “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”

Don’t forget, when it comes to fleet safety, everyone should strive for the championship.

Category: Driver Stuff, Featured, General Update, Management, News, Safety

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