6 Ways Fleets Can Turn Internal Relationships into Business Assets

Internal relationships can heavily impact a carrier, especially during a recession or inflationary period. To ensure your fleet is maximizing its opportunities during tough times, you have to focus on your people. After all, they are your most important business asset. 

In the recent FleetOwner webchat “How to Profitably Grow Your Fleet in a Recession,” Matt Cartwright, founder and CEO of Magnus Technologies, and Verlen Larsen, solutions engineering manager at Magnus, discussed their advice for leveraging internal relationships to improve your business performance. 

This article captures highlights of their ideas for transforming intra-team relationships into business advantages. Fleet owners and brokers will be inspired by their leadership insights and advice. (Watch the full web chat for all the ideas.) 

Strategies to Managing Change and Improving Intra-Team Relationships in the Process

1. Cultivate a positive culture.

“The first thing is to have a positive mental attitude throughout the organization,” Cartwright said. “You can sink a great idea just by starting out with a negative perception or thinking. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy - if you think it's negative, it can be that way.” 

2. Engage team members in any changes.

When making a change that impacts the entire organization or when the company is in flux, it is important to engage team members at all levels. “Change doesn't necessarily have to be one person's initiative that gets dictated to the group. Make sure people are capable of providing feedback and their thoughts are considered,” Cartwright said.

3. Walk around to learn from new sources and develop relationships.

Cartwright noted a Tom Peters phrase from years ago: management by walking around. “You don't learn what's going on in your organization in your office,” he explained. “When you walk around the floor, pretty quickly you hear things that are happening that maybe you can help with or maybe you can think about differently.” 

It’s not all input from data and software. Some of your most valuable information may come from your people. Is there some change they want to see? Ask questions and listen to the answers. 

“Walking around gives you an opportunity to develop more personal relationships with people you work with. That also helps those people open up and not be guarded. Employees feel like they can have a normal conversation with you. When they do have work ideas or questions, it's a comfortable environment for them,” Cartwright explained, adding, “Engagements don't necessarily need an agenda.” 

4. Be a curious leader, not judgemental.

If someone does have a question or a concern, approach that in a curious manner versus being dismissive. There may be people who are new to the business or new to the company and they may not have all the knowledge that everybody else has. 

“They'll sense when you think it's a dumb question or if it doesn't make sense. But helping them understand those things actually engages them more as owners in the process, and get over some of that fear or aversion to change,” Cartwright explained.

5. Listen to hear, not to respond.

“One thing I've seen in great leaders and companies is they listen to hear what somebody is saying, versus listening to respond,” Cartwright said. “It's really important when you think about people who may not be open to expressing their viewpoints because they feel the response may not be great. Really listening to hear what they have to say is super important when you're out there walking the floor, and not shutting someone down as soon as they start knocking.”

6. Manage change together.

“We're all in the change management business, regardless of our job title, and that's not easy,” Larsen said. “We're talking about managing change to the degree that we have a culture where we actually talk to our colleagues, ask questions, and listen to the answers to those questions. Freight operations leaders actually show employees they’re responding and considering, and that builds a culture of trust, which then can open everyone's minds up to change.”

Watch Full Webchat for More Strategy Tips for Freight Leaders

With the right people, processes, and technology, fleets can handle a freight recession and most other roadblocks. Watch the full webchat – “How to Profitably Grow Your Fleet in a Recession” – and learn freight operations strategies to help you through times. 

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