The Best Company Out There! – A Cautionary Tale.

Don’t take it personally but I should probably apologize for the clickbait title.

But while you’re waiting for my apology, let’s think about a few things.

What is the best company out there?

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Mostly “No-Touch” freight!

I think that answer differs for everyone.

Many people will accept a job that maybe doesn’t pay so much, but is flexible and offers good time at home. Some people don’t mind spending every other weekend sitting in a truck stop, because they don’t have much of a home life. Some people like tarping loads of lumber and steel in hundred degree heat after waiting in line at a steel mill for 8 hours. Some think sitting days on end in a produce market is just fine. Some like to stay gone all year building wind farms. Some think pulling hazardous chemicals is the best thing ever. All of these are perfectly valid answers.

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You’ll be gone most of the year doing Wind Energy freight. No joke.

I’ve done all of these things and more. I’m not bragging, I’m simply saying that for the individual driver, what the best job is may depend on many things. Being critical in your job selection is something that will come with experience. You’ll learn eventually to spot things that simply don’t sound right, or are simply too good to be true. If there is one constant in anything I’m saying here, it’s that in trucking, if something sounds too good to be true, it definitely is. Not ‘probably’ is, but definitely is. There is no perfect job out there. Also, you may accept a job that sounded good, but very quickly turns out not to be very good at all, for any number of reasons.

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Newer equipment!

One thing I’ve learned in doing all that is that whatever the best job is, as your life changes, so will your needs of the job. Also, the job itself might change too. Every single employer I’ve ever had has made changes to the job at will. It’s their company, and that’s their right. Several times, these changes no longer told me I had the best job out there, and I had to make my own changes.

By leaving.

Do not for one second feel bad about leaving a company. They don’t feel bad about changing your job description. Maybe they added or lost an account that worked for you. Perhaps they put a camera in your face. The company attached zero emotion to these choices, so there’s no need for you to do so.

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Here’s what you can do with your camera!

I look at trucking differently than I used to. I used to really attach myself to a job. Maybe I still do. I put a lot of effort into being safe and putting forth a good amount of effort to get things done. I have little tolerance for slackers and half-steppers, and many times won’t even talk to them. But I do this for my own peace of mind, and integrity rather than loyalty to the company. I figure if a job falls apart, at least I can walk away with that much. But these days it’s a business relationship like any other. My skills, knowledge, and ability to operate safely for your wages. If one of us no longer likes these parameters, we go our separate ways. Don’t take it personally. I won’t either.

For the record, I didn’t always think I had the best job out there either. Some I stayed at way too long waiting and hoping for them to improve while others I stayed at simply for the money. A few times I took a slightly better job to get out of a really bad one.

Also, be very careful about letting friends talk you into coming to work someplace because they think it’s great. Firstly, you don’t know people like you think you do. Just, trust me on that. Second, no matter how close with that person you are, they have different needs for that job than you do. It may quickly become clear that there are vast differences in those needs.

Finally, in all my years of driving – almost three full decades now – I’ve had two places actually tell me they were “the best company out there”, and that I “won’t find another deal like this one.”

They’ve actually said this. Those words in that order.

It brings my mind to a halt every time I think about having heard this in both these places. I raise my eyebrows and get this look of incredulity on my face for a second despite my best efforts to hide my facial expressions. “You’re not going to find another deal like this one.” and “I have the best damn company out there!” are quotes that will stick with me until the end of my days.

Both these places were pretty good places to work. Depending on your needs for the company. Both these places made significant changes over a short period of time. Which made me start to question my role there. No, I will not name them.

Do you know makes people think they have the best company in trucking?

An unchecked ego.

That’s it. A small little three letter word, but a huge concept. Ego.

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Hello self! You built the most awesome company, and nobody can tell you different!

A good place to work that knows it’s a good place to work usually has a high driver retention rate, for starters. Good pay and working conditions add to this. But then they get cocky with themselves. They become very proud of their longevity. They give out arbitrary awards, and take pictures. They may even give long employed drivers special trucks to drive, or special routes to run.

But too many changes too quickly might just have drivers leaving in droves. At first, the company may not even notice. They’ll think those drivers were just perpetually unhappy people, or had a poor attitude. Or maybe they were just whiners. Maybe some of this is even true. They think they have the best company out there and it can’t possibly be their fault! As far as their concerned all these changes have been good ones because they benefit the company!

Read that last sentence again. And don’t take it personally.

It will take a while, but at some point they’ll start to notice these departures, and wonder why. But far too often, they never even look inward as to why people are leaving. They continue to think it’s everything but their decisions at the management level. They remain positive they have such a great place to work that convincing them there’s room for improvement, or that recent changes are in fact not positive ones are like the proverbial “squeezing blood from a stone.” The fact that there’s an endless supply of drivers around helps reinforce this idea.

“You know, I have a stack of applications sitting here!”

I’ve actually been told this too.

The truth is, at some point they lost respect for their drivers, and really don’t care anymore. They forgot that this is a two-way relationship.

What “the best company out there” to drive for is should not ever be decided by management. It’s not up to management to decide.

It’s up to the drivers.

In my opinion, these words should never even be said by management. It never comes off as anything but condescending and egotistical. Perhaps even completely out of touch.

Did I ever get around to apologizing for the clickbait title?

Don’t take it personally.

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