How to Build Team Rapport with Your Drivers
Originally published on July 28, 2020
When you’re a busy fleet manager, and your drivers are distributed far and wide, it isn't always easy to build team rapport. On the surface, this may appear to be an unavoidable situation that doesn’t affect the team too much. But, when you look a little deeper, lack of rapport in your team could be costing your staff job satisfaction, resulting in poorer performance, and costing the company too.
According to Forbes, 96% of employees believe showing empathy can improve staff turnover rates.
How does a fleet manager show empathy and build team rapport when their team is rarely in one place at once? Thankfully, there are ways to hone your rapport building skills to be effective, regardless of geography. These rapport building techniques aren’t particularly revolutionary in themselves but, when practised daily, can revolutionise your work relationships.
3 Popular Rapport Building Techniques
1. Be available
We touch on the importance of listening to your team in our blog post on reducing driver turnover rates. But, for your drivers to open up to you in the first place, you need to demonstrate availability and cultivate a high-trust environment. Availability starts with a metaphorical (and literal) open-door policy where employees are met with reasonable flexibility, time, and strong listening skills.
Of course, there may be times when it’s not convenient to talk. But, by being readily available for your team, you show them that you care and are loyal to them. This could look like regularly reminding them you’re just a call away if they need help with anything. The golden rule is only to say this if you mean it. Going through the motions to appear like a good boss with no follow-through won’t accomplish strong team rapport and will serve to damage your relationships.
On the other hand, if you are consistently available to your team, you will reap the benefits of drivers who are trustworthy, hard-working, and cooperative.
2. Show interest
Showing genuine interest in your team members goes a long way. Small talk becomes stale very quickly, and some team members may even grow to resent the insincerity of yet another meaningless conversation about the weather.
In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie advises that a key facet of successful relationships is to ask questions the other person will enjoy answering.
Set a target to speak about non-work-related topics with each member of your team each day you speak to them. Displays of humanity and genuine interest are one of the most valuable rapport building techniques.
3. Invest in opportunities to get the team together
Building one-to-one rapport with each member of your fleet is a great foundation to foster rapport within the greater team. The nature of the job makes it more difficult than it is for office-based teams, but there are ways around this. When you cultivate harmony across the whole team, operations and communication become much smoother.
Try organising regular team social events after work, even if not everybody can get there. Casual evenings are a perfect opportunity to create a relaxed atmosphere for the team to get to know one another in an informal capacity. We also recommend organising team building activities to bring your drivers together and equip them to develop their skills at work.
Another way to build team rapport is by organising conference calls every so often when the situation warrants it. Brief group chats are a good way to reinforce that each member of the team plays a valuable part in the fabric of the company. You could even set up a team Whatsapp group or Microsoft Teams chat . Even if it ends up just being a place to share relatable memes, having a central place to confer can be really convenient.
For more advice on fleet management, check out our comprehensive guide to fleet management. You can also learn more about your personal management style in our previous blog post.