We live in a world where we can tell anyone exactly what we think about anything with a few keystrokes. Why is it, then, that the majority of the feedback is negative? Why do people feel so much more apt to complain than praise? And, what does this have to do with fleet management?

First, take a look at reviews online. Most of them will be complaints, vents, and some of the harshest things someone could even think of saying. People hide behind their screen and write horrendous things without thinking about it. These reviews take over, dragging ratings down.

Companies are taking action to get happy customers to rate their product or company. Have you done ANYTHING online and seen the “if you like us, please give us a 5-star rating?” pop up? This is their way to balance out the ratings and increase the priority of praise.

When people are praised, the effects go beyond the moment. We like to feel good and think good things about ourselves. When we hear these positive comments it lifts us up. But, when someone is told everything they have done wrong for the day, the effects can last even longer.

Anger is a stronger emotion than happiness and often when we are angry we need to vent. We want to warn others away from having the same problem. But, sometimes, someone is just having a bad day and the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was the few extra minutes it took to get their coffee that morning, which they now equate to the one thing that caused the rest of their day to go downhill. They take to Yelp with a vengeance, noting “worse service ever” with a paltry one-star review. According to Our Social Times, 23% of people post a negative review out of vengeance.

Negative feedback can hit on emotional and psychological triggers in someone’s past. This means, without realizing it, making a quick comment to a driver about how they can’t seem to improve their mileage can bring up feelings of inadequacy that go back to childhood. Now, we aren’t expecting anyone to tiptoe around important feedback topics. We aren’t mind readers and every person’s past is different so what may bother one driver won’t even faze another, but it is something to be aware of when you wonder why Driver A is always upset for a few days after any poor review or negative feedback.

So, it is clear that praise can go a long way toward someone’s happiness, just as negative feedback can go a long way toward dragging someone down, just like those ratings. And, while criticism is very important and can be used as a tool for growth and improvement when it’s the only tool in the toolbox you’ll find it difficult to build a solid foundation.

Praise in Fleet Management

But, what in the world does this have to do with fleet management? As a fleet manager, your job is multi-faceted, but often one of those faces is personnel management. It can be easy to be caught up in data and reports — which are going to regularly point out what your drivers are doing wrong.

And, with so much to do each day, we must prioritize. One aspect of personnel management is addressing problems that result in increased costs, downtime, and an overall loss of productivity. So, Priority No. 1: address the problems your reports are showing.

Result: Call in employee A and tell them what they are doing wrong and come up with a plan to address the issue. Move on to the next problem until all problems are addressed. Move on to the next employee until all employees are addressed. Move on to Priority No. 2.

Wait a minute! Where was the positive? How does that employee feel walking out of your office having been told everything they did wrong? And, what about the drivers who are doing great? They aren’t getting called in to discuss issues, but they are pretty much otherwise ignored.

So, how do we address this? We cannot ignore problem drivers. But, we CAN use the example above and “balance out our ratings” by increasing the priority of praise. There are many ways to do this, including:

  • Gamification. By creating a game or contest, drivers who work hard and put in effort to improve can be rewarded and recognized.
  • Recognition. From driver or employee of the month, to call outs for most improved in whatever metric matters most to your company, many people thrive on simple recognition.
  • Sandwich method. One way to communicate “bad news” or criticism is by using the “sandwich method” of communication. This is where you give a piece of positive feedback, then discuss the issue, and follow it up with another positive comment. The driver or employee will leave the room not feeling “beat up,” which can result in them better hearing your concerns.
  • Meet with good drivers, too. Instead of only meeting with drivers to discuss problems, take a little more time and add your top drivers to your meetings and be sure to not ignore them. While some may argue “doing your job right doesn’t deserve praise, just a paycheck,” as noted above praise and positivity can increase driver productivity.

So, after reading through this, did you get caught in the negative feedback loop? It’s time to break the cycle. What other ways can we increase the positivity of praise in fleet? What do you do?

E-mail me or comment below and let’s chat!

Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor

Lauren Fletcher has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006 and is the executive editor of Work Truck magazine. With a particular focus on educational, tips and trends pieces in the vocational truck industry, check out her Truck Chat video series or Chatty Chassis blog for more!