Do You Have The Right Temperament For This Job?

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G-Town's Comment
member avatar

On the surface this may seem like a misplaced post, something more commonly discussed in a shrink's office not on a trucker's forum. Bear with me,...please read on.

My motivation for writing this is simple; "I have seen many, many drivers come and go from my terminal". Some within minutes of arriving. Yes, that quick; “bye”. It's troubling cause I genuinely love this business. Trucking has a reputation of chewing-up and spitting-out many an entry-level driver. If a driver can make it past 90 days, they may ultimately survive and thrive. The person who actually stops and thinks, “No, I am not going to be good at this”, actually has done themselves a huge favor with a quick and painless exit. We have seen several recent examples of this. Many drivers pass through this business thinking it’s going to be “easy”, steady work requiring little to no thought whatsoever. It’s to the point where I can almost predict those who will make it and those who won’t when I first meet them. But why? Why and how can I make this prediction and almost always be correct. I am not clairvoyant, clever, or particularly gifted at reading people, I just have developed a sense of what temperament works in this business, specifically the Walmart account where I work. In many cases it’s ridiculously obvious, almost comical. It’s not psycho-babble, or something relegated to mental health professionals, it’s something we should understand, be aware of and learn to manage.

As defined by Merriam Webster’s Dictionary temperament is:

the usual attitude, mood, or behavior of a person or animal

To me the qualifier, use of the word “Usual” is key; “it’s just how a person is”. How they typically respond, interact, react, and project to others without consciously thinking about it. "Be yourself", right? No more like; "Know yourself". Like it or not trucking is a people business. The “people” aspect is an important element of this job we have seemingly little control over. Or do we? How others perceive our attitude, behaviors and mood can have a major impact on how they respond to us; either positively or negatively. It can make the difference between getting things done, or not.

We see people come and go from this forum. As is usually the case, reading their post almost always indicates the root cause of their dilemma. It’s temperament, their attitude cannot and does not hide.

They have no clue how their temperament and their inability to manage it, has actually contributed to their downfall.

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When I see a new person approach the driver’s window, the first 30 seconds of their interaction with the DM basically sets the tone for how they will be treated at least for the next few days, usually longer. Most drivers, especially the newbies do not realize this. Almost instantly they are labeled to some degree; “professional”, “nice”, “intense”, “grumpy”, “nasty”. Don’t kid yourself, that’s what happens. Apply that same theory to our interactions with shipping clerks, receiving clerks, lumpers/dock workers, security guards and other motorists and it’s easy to see where some drivers are their own worst enemy and things tend to come off-the-rails rather quickly. Give an individual “in-power” a negative attitude and it’s likely to result in a negative encounter and outcome.

Our temperament and our ability to manage it, is absolutely critical to our success, happiness and yes, money.

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Is it possible to adjust our natural temperament to more positively effect a desired outcome or result? Yes, I believe it’s possible, but with work. At a minimum this requires an awareness. Consistent thought, thinking about a situation and refusing to give-in to the natural temperament that would cause an emotionally charged, angry approach or response. Think, think, think…always think about what you say and how you say it before actually doing it. If you know you are about to have a conversation requiring the other person to do something for you, realizing that they may not want to do it, approach it with professionalism, a calm demeanor, and gratitude. By doing that there is a much higher probability of influencing a more positive outcome. If what was just described is not part of your natural temperament, then I suggest a rehearsal of sorts to more positively approach a conflict or difficult situation in order to have a reasonable chance at the desired outcome. Managing this to our advantage is part of the job, an on-going process and not a one-time event. I believe it's a skill that we can all learn.

As it applies to our individual temperament; virtually every aspect of this job; driving, discussions with other people, everything is affected by our natural attitude, behavior and mood. Know yourself,…think about it. Learn how to adjust. Do you have the right temperament for this job?

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

Was that rhetorical? Hahah.. cause yeah.. I do. I can flirt and be sweet with customers and nice drivers and yell "shove it" and pull my brakes on the guys who won't let me back up slowly.

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ChickieMonster's Comment
member avatar

Was that rhetorical? Hahah.. cause yeah.. I do. I can flirt and be sweet with customers and nice drivers and yell "shove it" and pull my brakes on the guys who won't let me back up slowly.

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Amen Sister! I'm the same way...

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Was that rhetorical? Hahah.. cause yeah.. I do. I can flirt and be sweet with customers and nice drivers and yell "shove it" and pull my brakes on the guys who won't let me back up slowly.

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Nope.

Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
member avatar

You bring up some very good points and the truth is, a large percentage of people who decide they want to be a professional driver won't make it. It could be their attitude, lack of training or just the inability to adapt to the job. This isn't the easiest thing in the world to do and it does take a special breed of person to juggle everything involved. One thing that's often left out that does add a ton of additional stress that's often left out of conversations is Driver Managers. Companies go through them almost as much as drivers themselves. One cause of added stress is that many of the new DM's just came out of college with a logistics degree. While they may be spot on running the software, they have little to no social skills and don't realize that on the other end of the phone or Qualcomm is a real person who is relying on them. While they get to go home every day, those drivers have questions that need to be answered or real world situations that come up and need to be addressed. When you have a rookie DM , it's difficult for them to assist in the learning curve of a new driver. The DM is surrounded by others who can quickly tell them which screen to be on our what code to use but they can't convey the human side along to those drivers who up until then have had the assistance of their mentor or trainer. It's a situation rarely addressed and a huge stress point for someone just getting their feet wet as a solo driver.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Driver Manager:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

I think there's also something to be said for just sticking it out and learning, even if you don't necessarily have the "right" temperament for the job.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying. There are people, like my parents for example, who don't have the temperament for the job. They could learn, but I think they would need to learn to control their tempers before they got into this career rather than once they're already in it. It's one thing to get ****ed off at another driver and cuss them out in the solitude of your own truck; it's a completely different story to "lose it" and physically react/retaliate in some way. This job does have a huge emphasis on safety.

But there are other people who might not really have what it takes initially, but they learn to fake it til they make it, so to speak. Try as I might, right now I just don't have the discipline and physical stamina to drive 500-600 miles a day for six days straight. The constant sitting (ya know, being literally strapped to a chair for 10+ hours a day) and really long days are really starting to drive me nuts, but I'm making do for the moment until I can figure out how to manage things better. Truth is, otr isn't the only gig out there. I don't think I really have the right temperament for otr, at least not at this point in my life, but I love driving trucks and it's not crazy to think that a different setup might be much more suitable for me--maybe one that gets me out of the truck more often.

I think there's definitely a right temperament for enjoying the heck out of the job while being very productive in it, but I think anyone that is willing to learn and work hard can make it work (unless for some reason they literally can't do it physically/mentally). Either way, it really seems like you're talking more about otr trucking than other types of trucking jobs.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

You bring up some very good points and the truth is, a large percentage of people who decide they want to be a professional driver won't make it. It could be their attitude, lack of training or just the inability to adapt to the job. This isn't the easiest thing in the world to do and it does take a special breed of person to juggle everything involved. One thing that's often left out that does add a ton of additional stress that's often left out of conversations is Driver Managers. Companies go through them almost as much as drivers themselves. One cause of added stress is that many of the new DM's just came out of college with a logistics degree. While they may be spot on running the software, they have little to no social skills and don't realize that on the other end of the phone or Qualcomm is a real person who is relying on them. While they get to go home every day, those drivers have questions that need to be answered or real world situations that come up and need to be addressed. When you have a rookie DM , it's difficult for them to assist in the learning curve of a new driver. The DM is surrounded by others who can quickly tell them which screen to be on our what code to use but they can't convey the human side along to those drivers who up until then have had the assistance of their mentor or trainer. It's a situation rarely addressed and a huge stress point for someone just getting their feet wet as a solo driver.

This is why I think ALL dispatchers and road assist people should do one week as a passenger on a truck. It would be cool of the drivers got to work with them in dispatch too.

As we are sitting there waiting for an answer 5 min can feel like an hour. But they might be dealing with an accident, a sick or injured driver, or even a trainer/trainee issue that needs immediate response. We all think we are the most important without realizing what they go through.

The other day I got a load that required a live dispatch where I call up and get over the phone instructions. It's usually the same issues. Called my FM four times over 30 min and was.left on hold. I KNEW he was busy cause he is always available.

I shot a message "you're busy I was on hold .. live dispatch = washout trailer, fuel it now, checked chute, times on bills, don't be late, precool trailer. What else?"

He was appreciative and gave me the ok to roll. I know people who would keep calling him for an hour not realizing he might have a really important problem going on. But it's good to know if I ever have a problem he will give me the time I need the way he does for others.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Driver Manager:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

I fully understand exactly what you're saying G-Town and you're dead right about all of it. When you're a top tier driver in this industry you know what it takes to operate at the highest levels so you can tell what's going to happen within two minutes of meeting another driver, whether they have experience or not. You can tell whether they get it or not. You can tell if they have the right approach, the right attitude, and the right level of ambition almost immediately. The students coming out of school are either ready to take on anything they face or not. The experienced drivers have either figured it out or they haven't. You can tell almost immediately who you're dealing with.

I think with the right level of ambition and humility almost anyone can learn how to make their way in this industry. They may not ever really love trucking because maybe they're not really cut out for it or it doesn't meet their life's goals. But if you dedicate yourself to becoming the best driver you can be and you open your mind to learning all you can then almost anyone can figure out what works in this industry and what doesn't. But there are no shortcuts to getting there. It takes a lot of time, you'll make a lot of mistakes, and you'll learn a lot of tough lessons the hard way. There's no way around that.

This very idea is behind a program I'm putting together right now that I believe we're going to call "Top Prospects" and it's going to be a way of identifying which people coming into the industry seem to have the best chances of becoming successful at this. I'm not going to go into too many details right now because I'm still hammering it out. But it's based on exactly what you're saying G-Town - when you know what it takes to perform at a high level out there you can pretty quickly and easily identify the people who have the best chance of surviving that first year in this industry and becoming true professionals someday. When I have the program put together we'll be sure to give everyone all the details.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

A quick note about something I read earlier but is unrelated to my last post:

When you have a rookie DM

If you're a top tier driver you should never be placed with a rookie DM. That's a nightmare scenario. I worked for US Xpress for years and I had already been driving almost ten years when I started there. After a couple of years of working there upper management came up with this brilliant idea that putting experienced drivers with rookie dispatchers and rookie drivers with experienced dispatchers would help train new drivers and dispatchers. They stuck me with this newbie and it literally didn't last until lunchtime. I had an amazing dispatcher already who had as much experience at his job as I did at mine. We were a well-oiled machine and I cranked out 3,000+ miles per week like clockwork. They tried moving me to some new guy and I parked the truck. Literally. I told them I wasn't moving this truck until I was back on my dispatcher's board. It was a foolish idea that was clearly thought of by someone with very little or no experience as a driver nor as a dispatcher. Within an hour I was back on my dispatcher's board and things went back to normal. I didn't need to participate in their silly experiment to know it was going to be a catastrophe.

So if you're performing at a top level and they've stuck you with a newbie dispatcher I would put the brakes on that right away or tell them to guarantee your salary no matter how few miles you turn. Because no way can a new dispatcher handle an experienced driver. It will take them quite a long time to learn how experienced drivers do things and what's expected of them as dispatchers. That time is going to mean a lot of money down the drain for a top tier driver. You simply can't do that to people.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
JakeBreak's Comment
member avatar

I agree gtown. There is a certain temperment that is required for this lifestyle and very few people have it. Most can learn it like Paul said but in trucking there is very little time to learn it. I think that's why so many people don't make it past the 90 day mark. If you don't have the right temperment and you can't learn it within the first month your gonna leave, it's just too much stress with learning the truck and the business and trying to change your temperament. Robert brought up a good point about the dm too. I don't know about anyone else but there are times when I forget he has 40 or so other drivers to take care of. I'm lucky enough that as part of the training for all new dm's here they all have to ride along in a truck for 10 days. The same training period new drivers go thru and while I have no experience with other companies I can say I haven't had a horrible experience with any of mine. Some personality differences and running style differences but nothing I couldn't adapt to.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
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