Home Truck News Mentorship programs make connections, tackle turnover - Truck News

Mentorship programs make connections, tackle turnover – Truck News

Most employee turnover happens within the first 90 days, but Tenstreet head of industry relations Marilyn Surber knows this can be addressed through mentorship programs that recognize and engage participants.

When such programs are combined with a strong onboarding experience, new employees or those transitioning between roles or companies will be better equipped to face challenges that emerge, she said during a Truckload Carriers Association webinar on mentoring.

“Sometimes it is easier to ask your colleague, ‘What do I do?’, rather than asking your supervisor,” added Barry McGowen, safety director at Christenson Transportation.

It was a central theme in the webinar.

(Photo: istock)

Many recruits are new to the industry, its lingo, and processes, said Matt Kennedy, employee experience and HR manager at Melton Truck Lines. But informal peer-to-peer mentors can help them navigate the transition – and help company managers see the true potential in employees.

Both fleets have long-established mentorship programs that began as onboarding support for drivers but extended to help maintenance staff and office workers as well.

It can make a difference in safety, too. Mentorships help retain drivers at a fleet, and a tenured fleet is a safer fleet, Surber said.

Kennedy believes higher-ranking mentors can also identify hidden skillsets and help employees escape their comfort zones to discover further opportunities.

Pride as a motivator

McGowen has mentored several drivers himself, and was especially proud when seeing one of his mentees become a safety supervisor. That pride, he added, can be a strong motivator for participating in the process.

Everything from a mentor’s handwritten thank-you notes to special dinners and round tables with fleet leaders can keep everyone engaged and appreciated, Surber said, adding that good mentorship programs remind mentors and mentees about why they joined the industry in the first place.

“Those mentors are going to share that love with the people that they’re mentoring.”

When it all comes together, it sparks conversations about what mentees are looking for in their jobs, and helps employees adapt to workplace cultures faster, she said.

Even more experienced employees can benefit from the extra guidance.

Making a match

However, it’s also important to match the right mentors to employees. It’s why Christenson Transportation and Melton TruckLines both pay attention to personal interests, backgrounds, personalities, and potential career paths when making the all-important matches.

Kennedy said proximity is equally important, to ensure mentors are available to answer questions as soon as possible, as is the need to match people in similar roles or departments.

“Whoever you’re mentoring may not remember the specifics of what you did, or what you said. It’s how you made them feel [that matters],” McGowen said, adding that this goes a long way to having a positive attitude. 

Managers have to monitor the mentors’ workload, though. They might be overwhelmed with their own tasks or simply be exhausted.

The issues can even be noticed before they’re recognized by the mentors themselves, Kennedy said.

A burned-out mentor can be damaging for all parties involved, he added. Regular check-ins and feedback will help prevent that from happening.

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