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The Culture of Top Transportation Teams

I want to congratulate Bill Griffiths from Beacon Mobility for winning the Innovator of the Year award presented by STN and the National School Transportation Association. As I read through Bill’s story starting on page 36, I capture a real sense of the type of leader he is and how much he values the team members that he leads while also providing them with the tools and technology to do their jobs as best possible. His company, Beacon Mobility, the fourth largest private school transportation provider in North America seems to have its fingers on the pulse of developing high performing teams and culture.

“We are a value-based organization and people are central to everything that we do. We are really looking froward to our Leadership Summit in August, where we are getting over 200 of out leaders together,” said Judith Crawford, CEO of Beacon Mobility.

It’s important to foster teamwork, but you need to have employees who trust each other to deliver the best outcomes based on their roles. Having mutual respect, common and aligned goals, open communication and patience are all key factors that make a successful team, in my opinion.

Last year, STN EXPO keynote speaker and Transportation Director Summit leader David Horsager said that the No. 1 concern among organizational leaders is their people and culture. He recommended constructing leaders in their high-trust culture to empower capable, confident, consistent and compassionate employees, not to mention productive ones. The opposite low-trust cultural breeds employees who operate amid unclear expectations.

Having a top school transportation team requires a combination of effective management, skilled staff, and a commitment to safety and efficiency. It all starts with hiring the right employees, organizing them into effective teams, and promoting teamwork, all of which should be a top priority for school transportation leaders. But this is no easy talk with all the staffing shortages this industry faces.

“High performing teams include members with a balance of skills, where the team needs a healthy dose of superlative technical and social skills. Increase diversity to help teams be creative with interpretations and avoid groupthink” according to the Harvard Business Review article “The Secrets of Great Teamwork” by Martine Haas and Mark Mortensen.

This month, school transportation leaders will descend on STN EXPO and Green Bus Summit in Reno, Nevada to connect and learn from each other. It’s all about meeting people that have already walked the road so we can all lean from the success and failures.

If your team attends any conference this summer, be sure to define a clear mission on what each team member should gain from experience. One goal should be to problem solve key district or business challenges. Set onsite goals, like meeting eight new industry suppliers, connecting with three industry peers you haven’t met before, and participating in at least 10 education sessions.

There is a myriad of ways to get value from a conference. Its hard if not impossible for your teams to reach a goal when you’ve never defined it. Remember, as a leader you are the one responsible for the overall vision and the best person to see how it’s coming together. The foundation of every great team is the direction that energizes, orients and engages your staff.

Also in Reno, Antonio Civitella, president and CEO of Tranfinder, will officially announce the winners of the Top Transportation Teams Awards. Transfinder asked school transportation departments and staff to rank themselves based on engagement by leaders, staff retention, creativity in recruitment, pay, overall resourcefulness, and investment in professional development for staff at state and national conferences.

A special congratulations to Franklin Township Community School Corporation in Indiana, Klein Independent School District and Garland Independent School District in Texas, Marshall Public Schools in Michigan, and Pembroke Central School District and South Lewis Central School District in New York.

High-performance cultures foster a sense of ownership, accountability and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Be sure to take the time and look inward at your leadership so you can be the best team you can be.

Editor’s Note: As reprinted in the July 2023 issue of School Transportation News.

Related: STN EXPO Reno Supervisors Seminar Merges Newcomers, Industry Veterans
Related: The Secrets of Six Top Transportation Teams
Related: Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork
Related: Identifying Risk Factors, Prevention Strategies Discussed at STN EXPO Reno

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