Quick Guide to Remote Coaching for Fleet Managers
When COVID-19 first struck the United States in March 2020, a lot of things went virtual, or remote. Terms and phrases like “Zoom”, “share your screen”, and “I think you are muted” quickly emerged in the work environment even though they were virtually unknown just months prior. Fast forwarding to today, the United States is beginning to phase back into “normalcy”, but many things will continue to remain remote. While the timeline on when, or if, fleet managers and fellow team members will return to the office depends on the fleet, remote meetings are a natural progression for this sector as drivers are always in different places. With that, fleets can embrace the innovations in technology to foster a remote coaching community that keeps drivers connected even when far away.
Remote coaching poses different challenges compared to in person coaching but focusing on a few key things can bridge the gap and allow for effective coaching. This includes consistent communication, leveraging the right technology, and more listening and inquiring during conversations.
The first step to having a successful remote coaching program is consistent and transparent communication. Without having a central location, it can be difficult to have a connected team and messages can get lost through the cracks. That is why it is better to over-communicate to ensure every member is on the same page. Likewise, having a channel—phone, email, Microsoft Teams, etc.—that drivers and other team members can easily and swiftly contact for support is essential. This principle holds true even before remote work came into play.
Communication should also be organized by medium. Using different mediums for different types of messages allows members to be better in sync with the types of messages they are receiving. For instance, allowing for emails to be for more official wide-sweeping messages, while chats—through Teams, Slack, etc.—for more personal messages that need quicker responses. This example will help drivers know if how quickly they need to read the message without even opening it. While on the road, that can be very important as to minimize distraction.
Overall, consistent communication helps members stay updated with a constantly changing workplace. It also helps create more clarity and allows for everyone to have a voice. By communicating clearly with your drivers, you can better work through challenges, obstacles, and scheduling. Drivers will know they can reach out and get a quick response back, giving them confidence to send that message instead of just trying to deal with it themselves.
As hinted at in the communication section, leveraging today’s amazing technology can make remote coaching equal to, and in some cases better than in person coaching. Finding the right company chat applications help keep team members connected and likewise give you an easier medium to communicate both with the larger group, and with each individual. It also makes it clear to the driver that they received a work-related message. Next, for remote coaching sessions, technologies like Zoom, Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Teams, and more all allow for seamless video chat with advanced features like screen sharing and even interactive whiteboards.
Lastly, fleets can utilize mobile IOT technologies too step inside the cabin with the driver. Solutions such as EZ Fleet’s VS800 Video Solution paired with the EZ750 allow for video recordings of critical events such as harsh accelerations, red light or stop sign violations, and even collision risks. Having video for events like these are invaluable to having productive coaching sessions with drivers, and for creating broader coaching programs in general. You can identify patterns, or see circumstances that cause different errors, and be able to address them like so. From there in the coaching session, you can use the “share screen” feature on video chat to show drivers different videos of their driving and walk through them.
Listening and Inquiring
Now, during meetings, having a mindset of listening and inquiring versus talking and directing will help fully diagnose situations and create better solutions. There is a common strategy in the tutoring world called the “asset-based approach” which is where the tutor works off what the student already knows instead of trying to fill the gaps that the student does not know. By asking them to talk through situations, you can step into their mindset and see their perspective. This is essential when discussing events from the road. Also, by taking this approach the driver will feel more valued, which is very important in itself. Many people, including myself, dread coaching sessions because more often than not the coach/manager critiques everything without any back-and-forth or understanding of what influenced those decisions. Valuing their perspective will create an environment where drivers are more satisfied and motivated to do their work. So, ask and inquire about these events and then use that as a foundation for finding solutions.
Remote coaching has different challenges and can seem insufficient compared to in person coaching. However, from a technology standpoint, everything is in place to allow for a seamless and more accommodating coaching atmosphere. Now, fleets can stay connected from wherever they are, which is amazing considering all the moving parts in a fleet. From there, imploring consistent communication, leveraging technology like chat applications, video conference applications, and mobile IOT solutions, and using a listening and inquiring approach to coaching sessions will help create better driving and higher driver satisfaction.