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Increased Engagement With Direct Managers

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Human Resources


Welcome to the newest post in our blog series, Darren’s Great Ideas! for Independent Operators

Increased Engagement With Direct Managers

An employee’s relationship with his or her direct manager is the most critical factor in employee engagement. Effective managers who can coach employees and maintain day-to-day relationships will have a more productive workforce.

I’ve said before that one of my mentors is fond of saying, “You cannot effectively service your customers until you first effectively service your employees.” It is often simple to say this, but much more difficult to execute it. We often get caught up with thought processes such as, “We are paying them X, they should do what they are supposed to do.” But we are often overlooking the fact we are not being honest with ourselves regarding what is causing the issue.

Even worse, when we do know what the reason for the issue is, we often just do not address it. We fail to execute. We may be thinking, “John is not counting change back to customers and he is creating cash over and short situations every time he works the register.” But it could be that John was never trained properly on cash register procedures since he was hired as a custodian and is told to jump on the registers when we are overwhelmed with customers.

Since we are short staffed, we continue to let John work the register and develop skill sets and methods that we are unpleased with, which sometime down the road will lead us to terminating John for failing to follow company policies and procedures. Most experts agree that while money plays an important role in why people work, it is not really the actual money that motivates them. It is their ability to use the money to fulfill dreams, desires and needs that do motivate them.

Engaging your employees humanizes you and creates significant loyalty. Feeling engaged is a strong motivator. Employees feel bonded to their managers and organizations when they feel they have social relationships with others among the group, the opportunity for personal accomplishment and growth, and that they belong to a team and are part of something bigger than them. Sometimes this is the touchy feely stuff that we operators like to turn a blind eye to.

Engaged leaders understand that what motivates one person is not necessarily what motivates another person. Joe is motivated and engaged because he feels that he has the opportunity to grow within the organization and learn new skill sets while Jocelyn is motivated and engaged by bonuses, comp day awards and regular pay increases for job well done. Still others are like Josephine and are motivated and engaged by acknowledgment of job well done, personal achievement and making a difference. And then there is John, who is motived by helping the company doing whatever is needed of him and telling stories about his family, especially about his new grandson. 

Engaged managers do not dread setting up goals and objectives. They look forward to conversation with their employees. Engaged employees want to know how they are performing so they can relate it back to what motivates them, pay, recognition and advancement. Those that are not engaged want to remain in the shadows and they do not want others to know what they are doing. Goals and objectives are important parts to keeping employees engaged. 

Knowing how you are doing is important in any relationship, and that is what your employees have with you—a relationship. Knowing where you stand and how you are doing are corner stones in relationships. Am I a good dad, am I a good wife, am I teaching my children properly? In the absence of engagement, employees create their own rules, their own goals and objectives. Engaged employees want to be measured, and what gets measured gets done. 

/// Read more Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators posts here.  



Join the conversation! How do you engage your employees?

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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.