We often talk about school bullying and workplace harassment. Rarely do we consider workplace bullying. Indeed, there is a distinct difference between the two.
WILMERDING, Pa. – Wabtec Corporation (NYSE: WAB) has appointed Donald M. Itzkoff as Vice President, Government Relations and Public Affairs. Itzkoff comes to Wabtec from General Electric Company, where he led U.S. government affairs for GE Transportation. He previously served as Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator in the Clinton administration and earlier was senior majority counsel with the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
I read your article in STN and am very intrigued by it. A lot of what I read I have been attempting to do or have already done. One issue I have is the lag time from application to hire due to some of our HR processes. How were you able to get HR on-board with expediting the hiring process and eliminating the dilly dallying around?
Thank you in advance,
This is a great question!
Working with HR is probably the hardest and the most important facet of recruiting. I think many of our HR folks, like transportation professionals, see themselves as gatekeepers and not as recruiters. In addition, they are so anxious about making mistakes and liability that this slows and even gridlocks the process of bringing on new drivers. Finally, most employees are more about comfort than change. They take the path of least resistance. You and your proposal may represent more work to them so keep that in mind.
Here are some suggestions when promoting institutional change.
A few more tips. Never be emotional, upset, angry, sarcastic, or pushy. Do not engage in a tug-of-war. Never threaten anyone by saying, “Well, if a student gets hurt it will be your fault.” This just raises anxiety and fosters defensiveness and even stonewalling.
This is no easy task and most folks don’t have the stomach for managing change. However, this is what separates a great leader from a mediocre manager.
At the beginning of the school year (2017-2018) my team and I walked away from our bus route bidding event with each and every route filled. We beat the odds and the national bus driver shortage. Not only did we have every route filled, we had 18 relief drivers and two surplus drivers who did not have routes to bid on. Curious how we did it? Read on.
Recruiting vs. Hiring
The first mistake made by those who are charged with hiring transportation professionals is the belief that they are hiring. With unemployment lowering day by day and plenty of employment options for seekers and an increasing nationwide driver shortage, we must reject the idea that we are hiring. Rather, we must recruit. What is the difference? Hiring asks the question, “Why should you work here?” Recruiting asks the question, “Why shouldn’t you work here?” When we focus on hiring we function as gatekeepers. When we actively recruit we function as gatherers. Hiring says, “Here we are, come apply.” Recruiting says, “There you are, come work with us.”
One of the first and foremost things our team did was get control of the process of recruiting, applying, and hiring. Work side by side with your HR people to earn their trust so they will allow you to manage each step of the process. This way you can expedite each candidate through the process rather than waiting on administration to approve your requests.
In this current employment market, you cannot afford to dilly-dally with applicants. Many transportation departments interview a candidate as soon as they receive their application. Never let applications sit idle. Find ways to remove hurdles for recruits. For example, use a motor vehicle record service rather than expecting your recruit to stand in line at the DMV and pay a fee to bring you an MVR. This saves the applicant time and money. All these little helps demonstrate that your transportation department exists to ensure they succeed. That alone speaks volumes to recruits and is much more valuable than .50 cents more an hour than the district down the road.
Accommodate, Don’t Constrain
The days of bundling warm bodies into a large training class are over. The problem with this model is that is it focuses on the convenience of the training staff. Making a trainee, who is eager to start driving, wait until “the next class” is available is unrealistic and inconsiderate. The bottom line is this: You risk losing them to another employer. If necessary I will run three classes with only one trainee in each class rather than risk them becoming impatient, losing interest and moving on. Once you have the fish on the hook, reel it in!
It’s Not About the Pay
Pay seems to be the principal misnomer and most widely used excuse transportation hiring professionals deploy to justify poor recruiting results. Last year, I could not fill several 40 hour a week, higher wage, driving positions. Why? At the end of the day it’s not about the pay, it’s about convenient schedules, access to benefits, giving back to one’s community and organizational culture. If your employees are complaining about the level of pay consider that there may be a deeper issue. Firstly, you may be attracting and recruiting toxic employees. Second, consider that your institutional culture may propagate discontent, discord and dissension.
Tony Corpin maps this out for us in an article entitled, “Culture is Habit,” in the August 2017 issue of School Transportation News. Corpin writes, “Student transporters need to understand the positive and negative motivators for why people work.” Consequently, as industry leaders we need to cultivate an atmosphere that amplifies these positive motivators. The bigger picture here, as Corpin rightly points out, is that “culture drives performance” and culture is more important than your bottom line, safety, or being on-time
Finally, notice that I did not include anything about clever marketing, signing bonuses, or job fairs. Our only means of advertising is three “Now Hiring” banners at high traffic intersections. I attribute our recruiting success to our reputation in our community as being an exceptional place to work. If you are experiencing recruiting woes and lows, then consider looking at the process from a different perspective.
The National Association for Pupil Transportation announced that it is working with an Atlanta-based consulting firm to create a customized tool that allows student transportation leaders to assess school bus driver judgement and decision-making ability.
Being the first can be a scary proposition. While both exciting and perhaps an honor to pioneer a manufacturer’s technology, such as propane school buses, there are certainly challenges to overcome.