Dan Baker, a nationally known speaker, teacher, and consultant to the trucking industry — not to mention a former Methodist minister in San Antonio, Texas — entertained the audience with a series of tales and one-liners.
“I've watched a lot of companies go down and close their doors. If you want to be a small trucking company, buy a big one and wait.”
But he also drilled home a strong message about the people side of trucking. He believes that if you're involved with the trucking today, you're primarily in the people business and secondarily in the trucking business.
He believes those in management could learn how to better deal with the young generation of employees.
“How did we do the work ethic?” he said. “We set very high standards. How high did we set those standards? We became perfectionists. What do perfectionists look for? What's wrong. ‘You weren't on time. You did this wrong.’
“We tried to motivate with intimidation, humiliation, and embarrassment. And it didn't work. The way we learned was by somebody threatening us. We didn't learn from our mistakes. We hid our mistakes.
“Today is a whole new thing. Instead of being a manager, you've got to become a mentor. Instead of a being a boss, you've got to become a coach. Instead of being a supervisor, you've got to become a teacher. We all have to become professors for this younger generation. There are some Generation Xers that need our help. They don't need our disapproval. We need to encourage them. Instead of talking, we're going to listen. Instead of telling, we're going to ask. Instead of begging, we're going to suggest. It's a great, wonderful generation, and it needs to be brought along.
“I think that is the new requirement, the new mandate on today's business management. Spend your time teaching and coaching, and love walking alongside of them.”