Respect is not an entitlement, it is earned over time. Genuine respect is not bestowed gratuitously; it arises in recognition of consistent performance and an ongoing demonstration of management skills. This is what cultivates management confidence in a fleet manager’s expertise and value to the organization.
However, it is not uncommon to hear fleet managers complain that management doesn’t appreciate – nor fully understand – what they do. Ask yourself: What are you doing to communicate to management the value your skillset brings to the organization? What are you doing, on an ongoing basis, to earn management’s respect?
Management is Focused on the Core Business
While your career may revolve around fleet, this is not the case with senior management. Unless your company’s core business is logistics or transportation specific, senior management is focused on the core business, which fleet supports as a business tool. To senior management, fleet is a corollary function used to achieve the corporate core mission. Therefore, to start the process of earning senior management’s respect, a fleet manager must fully understand the company’s products, programs, and services. As appropriate, provide to management recommendations on how fleet can better facilitate fulfilling the core mission. This is an important mindset. You must manage at a level that is “company impactful” rather than simply “fleet impactful.” Work intimately with each department that utilizes fleet vehicles to ensure your decisions are in sync with the real business needs and demands of the organization. Link strategic business objectives to the management of the fleet by embracing these corporate/departmental goals and philosophies. You must continually demonstrate to management your ability to effectively “connect the dots” from the macro corporate level to the departmental level, all the way down to the individual employee level, using the corporate fleet as a business tool to achieve each of their objectives. Furthermore, do so in a way that demonstrates you are a good steward of corporate monies.
Consistent Performer & Problem Solver
Fleet managers who maintain a consistent performance and achieve consistent results will be viewed with respect by management. Become known to management as being a problem solver; someone who is resourceful and takes the initiative without overt management prompting. This mindset will allow you to fine tune your problem-solving skills with the ability to zero in on the root cause and solution. This fosters a perception with management that you are reliable at taking prompt action and practice continuous improvement. Respected fleet managers have strong organizational skills. They deliver on goals and never become complacent by resting on the laurels of past accomplishments.
It is important to sharpen your verbal ability to effectively communicate recommendations to management. One way is to take a Toastmasters class to gain more confidence in speaking persuasively to a group. In addition to developing strong presentation skills, reach out to others to identify ways to write effective reports to keep upper management informed of your fleet management initiatives. If you can’t present or effectively report to senior management, your value will never be recognized by them.
Demonstrate the Ability to Achieve Goals
Management must view you as a goal setter. You should be goal oriented in all aspects of fleet management and employ metrics to continually benchmark productivity to achieve specific results. Govern your operations with these objectives in mind.
In addition to being a goal setter, you should have a strategic vision as to the future of the corporate fleet. Fleet managers who are strategic thinkers and visionaries are respected for this skill. The skill to think strategically is the ability to develop and communicate a vision as to how fleet will evolve in lockstep with evolving corporate goals and objectives. A respected fleet manager is long-term driven, which means being open to new ideas because fleet is an ever-changing industry. You may be the fleet expert, but someone else may have a better idea. Be open to ideas from anywhere, including peers, suppliers, drivers, and other managers within your company. You must be open to new possibilities, which may lead to innovative approaches in fleet management. However, open-minded doesn’t mean being open-headed. You must listen and entertain new ideas, but also temper it with pragmatism since you possess the subject-matter expertise.
In short, respected fleet managers have a “can-do” attitude. They possess the ability to make decisive decisions and they have the confidence and knowledge to make those decisions. In the corporate world, not everything is black and white. These fleet managers can make decisions when faced with ambiguity.
Let me know what you think.