It doesn’t matter if you just started in fleet or are a veteran member of our industry. The reasons may differ, but the question is always the same: How do I advocate for myself and my work?
Whether your company has been under the same management or leadership for 40 years or was recently acquired, knowing your worth and being to “sell yourself” to upper management is not a natural effort for many of us. Some still expect their work to speak for itself. Unfortunately, with the growth of remote work and the simple fact that much of the time spent driving or managing a fleet is time spent alone, it can be hard to ensure that happens. You must act.
But, how can you be “seen” in fleet? And what is management even looking for?
How to Be ‘Seen’ in Fleet
First, it’s time to stop hoping your work will speak for itself. Here are 14 steps to help you be seen and better appreciated for the arduous work you do:
1. Advocate for Yourself
You may need to change your mindset about self-promotion. One of the most challenging steps to take is speaking up in the first place. Don’t just wait to be noticed. It’s not in everyone’s nature to say, “Hey! Look at me!”
It can be uncomfortable talking about your achievements, but who will if you don’t?
2. Create a Case
One added challenge some fleet drivers face is spending so much of their time on the road, not in the office interacting with management.
“When you are a member of the transportation team, one of the biggest challenges, especially in a large company, is being one of many and being on the road all day by yourself. That makes it hard to be seen or noticed by management, as you don’t get the same face time that other employees may get from an administrative or facility standpoint,” said Brian Thompson Jr., general manager, Fleet and Transportation for DTG Recycle.
To help combat this challenge, create a case for yourself and be specific. Answer this question as clearly as possible: What’s your value, truly, to the company? And remember, this isn’t personal — it’s business.
“Visibility is certainly a challenge, particularly for employees who aren’t in the home office. However, some of those barriers have been broken down recently with the increased use and prevalence of online meetings. Still, any opportunity for in-person face time should be embraced as an opportunity for visibility,” recommended Mark Leakey, vice president of sales and marketing for Link Manufacturing.
3. Take Constructive Feedback
Both in your daily work and when advocating for yourself, the ability to take constructive feedback to help you improve vs. a judgment on your capabilities is super important.
Genuine constructive feedback should include actionable insight and recommendations to help you improve. Listen for those tips.
4. Do More
Now, this one is a little controversial. No one wants to do more work and not get paid for it. But going beyond the call of duty can show your capabilities to those who may not have been otherwise aware.
This tip should go without saying: there is such thing as giving too much. Be sure to look at the value the extra work truly provides and the time and energy it takes to accomplish.
5. Set Metrics & Goals
Setting yourself goals and metrics for improvement can help you succeed and have critical data for creating your case. A top-notch safety record can often speak for itself.
“Having a top-notch safety record and a positive attitude towards customers, co-workers, and the company, in general, can stand out in a transportation division,” said Thompson of DTG Recycle.
6. Help Others
In the animated movie, Robots, the catchphrase was “see a need, fill a need.” This concept is essential for being seen as a team player.
Do you have a better understanding of a program or process? Help your teammates if you see them struggle. Do you have more time than you expected and see someone struggling? Offer a helping hand. People remember those who help them in their times of need.
7. Be a Team Player
Along with helping others, don’t forget to recognize others for doing extraordinary things. People like being recognized. They appreciate feeling seen. They will remember you for your help and your support. Be the name leadership keeps hearing about.
“From day one, it’s important to focus on relationship building. Identify important peers and superiors and work to build rapport. From there, it’s a matter of looking for opportunities to spread news of your contributions in a non-look-at-me way. If you’re a manager, brag on your people whenever you can,” said Leakey of Link Manufacturing.
8. Speak Up
When you are invited to a company meeting, and there is an opportunity to participate, speak up!
And don’t wait for the time to come up to chat with your management; make that time happen.
“Take the time to get some face time with your supervisor to review their resume, ideas, or professional goals. Let it be known you are excited about the new opportunity and open to change and to adhere to the new company’s policies and safety protocols,” said Thompson of DTG Recycle.
9. Come Up with Solutions
Leadership hears problems every day — but do you have a solution in mind? Do you have a better way of doing something that may save time, improve how fleet operates, save money, or more?
As noted in point 8, speak up! Those working with fleet every day have the best understanding of what works — and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to recommend something better once you have a solid understanding of WHY things are doing the way they are.
10. Don’t Give Up
There is being a pest, and there is being persistent. Don’t just be a broken record, but don’t give up. It can take a few tries before your message makes it through.
This can be said for anything from working to solve a problem or advocating for yourself.
11. Timing is Everything
Did your company experience a major financial hit or a big win? Remember, when “preening your feathers,” it’s essential to understand the general feeling around the office.
Speak up! If it was a big win, were you a part of it? If things are down, don’t give up but consider postponing your efforts to a more favorable time frame.
12. Keep an Eye on the Future
Similar to the value of timing, understanding the fleets or overall future goals of the business will help you work toward making that happen.
Additionally, be sure you are aware of your trajectory. Is there room to grow and move up? Hit the ceiling? Talk with your superiors about your interest and how you can make that happen. Don’t be afraid to look elsewhere.
13. Learn the Culture
If you are entering a new company, it’s crucial to learn and understand the new company culture.
“People will be more likely to recognize your value to the company if you’re culturally seen as a good fit, so figure that out first. From there, pattern your approach to telling your story,” recommended Leakey of Link Manufacturing.
14. Be Authentic
Probably the top piece of advice out of everything? Be authentic. Be true to yourself.
If you are passionate about what you do, it’ll show. Be curious about your work, industry, and everything else you can. The more you know, the better you can be.
Ensuring a Smooth Transition
For companies on the acquiring end of the equation, there are several ways you can help ensure a smooth transition for onboarding employees.
“The key to successful business integration is communication, communication, and more communication. Everybody must understand the vision of what is happening. Teams need to believe in the strategy to rally behind the ‘big why,’ ” explained Gary Fitzgerald, chief executive officer at GPS Insight. “
GPS Insight has been involved in acquisitions and mergers from both sides of the fence and has a unique insight into the process.
“In our case, our goal was to bring fleet and field technologies into one solution. We did this by joining our workforces together. We immediately made our company stronger and brought two industries together in a way that had never been done before,” Fitzgerald added. “Our employees understood that we could integrate our platforms to allow for better visibility and efficiency for our customers, saving them time and money.”
1. Advice for Recently Acquired Fleets
If your company has been acquired by another, it’s important to understand what the company is looking for. While each organization is unique, many of them are looking for the same thing:
“Open minds, positivity, proven track record of safety, experience, versatility,” said Thompson of DTG Recycle.
Leakey of Link Manufacturing added that companies also look for skills, talent, and fit.
“Complementary skills are way better than redundant skills. It’s not just about the business or product you’re buying. The people are equally or more important to a successful acquisition. I’ve heard it said, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast,’ and that’s critical to keep in mind when evaluating acquired employees. Skills and talent are important, but they must also be a cultural fit,” Leakey added.
If you are on the acquired end of the process, you can do a few things to help.
“Ask questions and remain positive; change can be scary. Keep an open mind. Give the acquiring company a fair chance,” Thompson said.
Leakey agreed, adding to “be open to change and exude a good attitude.”
2. Advice for Acquiring Fleets
If you are on the acquiring side of the equation, you can do a lot to help the new-to-your-company employees better integrate.
“Make people feel like they are part of the team, ensure their concerns and fears are addressed, and set the standards and expectations up front,” suggested Thompson of DTG Recycle.
There is a lot you can do to help make the transition and overall process smoother for employees that are new to your company.
“Provide ample HR, compliance, and mechanical support from the outset,” Thompson of DTG Recycle noted.
Additionally, quickly identify the key players in the new organization.
“These key players may not always be the most obvious people with the biggest titles. One-on-one interviews starting at the top and working down will help. Identify those people and put a plan together to keep them on board through the transition,” Leakey added. “Also, communicate the vision for why the acquisition was made and why it will be good for the employees.”