When you’re in college, you seek out the help of older students and professors for the help you need to get top grades.
In the military, servicemen and servicewomen rely on superiors for critical knowledge.
In all disciplines, the bond between a mentor and mentee is inexorable. And even though they usually don’t share a cab with each other, the bond that drivers share is tight as well.
Online, drivers hang out in forums and social media. They ask and get answers about crucial trucking news. In person, you see these tight partnerships made at truck stops or at headquarters.
In all fields, mentors are the people who step forward and offer experience to help new employees out. And, as studies find, mentors are key to success and employee retention.
Why Is Mentorship Important?
Being a mentor isn’t the same thing as being a supervisor. There’s no power imbalance—it’s two peers sharing information. It’s grounded in mutual respect, not hierarchy.
No matter the industry, mentorship is a key way of building trust between team members.
According to a 2009 study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, there is a direct parallel between mentors and positive business outcomes.
“The fostering of mentoring relationships may assist organizations in simultaneously promoting effective knowledge transfer and the commitment that assists retention,” wrote the study’s author.
Accordingly, some carriers offer mentorship programs. This helps them influence the motivation of their drivers. It provides an intangible satisfaction: knowing they’ve helped someone start their career.
Plus, at the carrier level, mentorship programs can:
Help transfer knowledge and skills
Increase on-the-job training that reduces off-the-job training costs
Help new owner-operators become adept drivers and businesspeople
Going Further Than Mentorship
At some point, drivers “graduate” from their mentorship programs. They’re no longer required to be under the wing of a more seasoned driver, and the reins get cut loose.
The mentorship the seasoned driver shared with the rookie driver can take them far. But that rookie driver will eventually run into a circumstance that their mentor didn’t train them for.
Creating a mentorship program has another key benefit: showing your drivers you care about their growth.
It’s the opposite of a “my way or the highway” mentality.
When you encourage anonymous feedback from all your drivers on the road, it’s like being a mentor to them. You’re not being a supervisor. You’re encouraging feedback that creates a mutual benefit.
Plus, there's a benefit in anonymity. Since mentorship requires a lack of hierarchy, drivers feel unencumbered to share information. When there's no identity, there's no fear of retribution.
Driver feedback can also help the company reach their goals. When drivers let companies know the challenges they encounter, companies can close the feedback loop.
Being a mentor to your drivers doesn’t stop after a few months on the road. As a leader in your company, you can lead the charge to improve retention in your company.