Most fleet owners accept there is a looming driver shortage. Increasing freight volumes are combining with an aging workforce and a lack of new recruits to create a dilemma for fleets looking to hire drivers.

See also: Solving the problem of driver retention

There’s another ingredient that’s been added to the mix that has the potential to improve the situation, or make it worse – it all depends on how managers use it.

GPS fleet tracking: Valuable metrics but is it micromanagement?

The growing presence of fleet management systems and GPS tracking on commercial vehicles is providing managers with a wealth of real-time data on everything from delivery ETAs to driver behavior and fuel consumption. It’s a far cry from the daily check call to keep tabs on individual drivers, with plenty of finger-crossing and hoping that drivers completed their journeys safely, efficiently and on time.

But there are drivers that are not so keen on this new, finely measured working environment. They feel it’s at odds with the independent trucking lifestyle, the freedom of the open road, the wind in your hair, or as John Larkin, director of research for industry analysis firm Stifel Financial Corp., put it, “the swashbuckling truck drivers of years gone past.”

According to Larkin, this is the rub that is making it difficult to attract new drivers to the industry.

The challenge for today’s fleet owners will be to tread the fine line between benefiting from modern tracking technology without using it to micromanage, or control, too many aspects of a driver’s job.

Sure, most managers agree that micromanagement is not a good management technique, particularly in the long term. It can undermine trust, foster dissatisfaction and promote turnover, or at a minimum erode loyalty. Studies show it can even lead to a loss of working memory and task failure, the polar opposite of what many micromanagers are trying to achieve.

If you’re a manager you may be quick to pledge that you will never micromanage but the wealth of data that fleet management software can put in front of you will be sure to test your resolve to the limit. Your inner-analyst will start working the numbers and potentially see your business represented as data to be tuned, instead of real live humans with feelings.

3 ways to use fleet tracking technology to promote a better working environment

There’s no doubt deploying fleet management software and mobile driver apps gives your management powers a huge boost – the trick is to use those powers for good and not evil. Here are three ways you can use Telogis mobile solutions to create a working environment that attracts drivers, instead of repelling them.

1 – Share the knowledge

Managers generally have a responsibility to correct driver behavior when necessary. Driver monitoring systems make it easy to track incidents of less than ideal performance, and provide the basis for driver coaching sessions. But if the data you’re using is hidden from the drivers you’ll have a hard time getting them onside.

Telogis Coach puts a driver’s performance data in their own hands – literally. Available as an app for Android or iOS, drivers can monitor the day’s driving themselves with objective data based on actual driving performance, and self-correct without the need for intervention.

2 – Put the data in context

Before fleet tracking, feedback on your drivers was often isolated reports, possibly with little detail and context. Those calls from an angry motorist ringing through on the ‘Hows my driving?’ line would often give a one-sided account of the incident.

Telogis Fleet provides you with an informative ‘what happened here’ feature that makes it easy to get the full story and put driver incidents in context with GPS-verified data.

It also helps drivers understand the need to act responsibly, knowing their actions are on record while they’re on company time.

Extra data also helps to put what could easily be black marks against a driver into context. Data analysts refer to this as ‘normalizing’. For example, a speeding incident on its own is bad, but when matched with the GPS location data and satellite imagery it could be traced to an isolated stretch of road, perhaps a private road even. Of course, the converse is true and the speeding could be linked to a school area.

The point is that having more data now helps you to treat drivers with a greater degree of insight and fairness.

3 – Make your driver’s job easier

In an ideal world, technology should be making our lives easier rather than becoming an imposing overlord. Telogis offer a range of software solutions that are designed specifically to save drivers time, reduce stress and keep them DOT compliant.

  • Paperless inspections – DVIRs are required as part of a driver’s pre-trip inspection. Locating the previous form, finding a working pen and manually completing a new DVIR could easily be frustrating. Electronic inspections using just a handheld device saves time, saves long explanations (using photos) and speeds up the maintenance scheduling.
  • Automatic HOS logging – With Form & Manner errors topping the list for HOS non-compliance, it’s clear that a lot of drivers struggle to keep a logbook accurate and up-to-date. The Telogis ELD compliance solution (soon to be compulsory for all CMVs) offers an automated method of tracking driving hours that automatically syncs with back office, eliminating the need for dispatchers to call the driver.
  • Commercial-grade navigation with last-mile directions – When you’re guiding an 80,000lb vehicle through heavy traffic you need navigation you can rely on. Telogis Navigation is supported by verified feedback from a community of over 150,000 professionals and offers customized directions with helpful side notes all the way to the loading dock.
  • Use your own device – Telogis mobile apps are built to work on modern smartphones and tablets, which means drivers can use their own personal device (BYOD) and make use of it during personal downtime.

These examples highlight that it’s not all about pushing change on the driver – presented in the right way drivers will see the new technology as a tool they can use to make their own job easier.

Using technology to attract new recruits (and retain existing drivers!)

The new era of using technology to measure work performance to a greater degree (a change that is impacting on a lot of industries, not just trucking) is giving fleet owners the opportunity to show the level of trust they have in their drivers.

Used the right way – to empower and democratize individual workers – it can improve team morale and improve driver retention. Help them become a knowledge worker – not just a mindless drone following orders. Trust begets trust, but it works the other way too.

If drivers sense you are using technology to undermine their autonomy and control their daily movements you may get some short term compliance but it will be at the risk of losing your drivers to another fleet, or other negative consequences associated with micromanagement.

Don’t make the same mistakes other fleet make when rolling out GPS fleet tracking – Telogis has years of experience and professional advisors who can guide you on the best way to use the power of telematics to not only improve the profitability of your fleet, but improving the driver experience too.

Talk to us today – we’re happy to answer any questions you might have about this topic.