Fleet managers: how to master your work/life balance

Written by Ellie

Any company with more than a handful of vehicles on the road knows the value of a great fleet manager. You are the ultimate multi-tasker.

From looking after drivers to understanding new technologies, having a hand in buying the best vehicles to keeping the fleet on the road and getting value out of every penny in your budget, everything revolves around you.

But those in fleet management roles risk burn-out if you don’t take special care of their work/life balance.

To make sure this demanding but fulfilling job doesn’t become overwhelming, we’ve listed four strategies to help you find that work/life balance – helping to keep on top of day-to-day tasks as well as managing expectations from driver to CEO.

1. Switch off from always on

Technology is able to improve our lives in so many ways, both at work and at home. But it also means we are feeling the pressure to be available 24/7.

It may seem the work of seconds to take a quick call or answer an email outside office hours but it stops us from being able to switch off fully from work. Being able to remove ourselves fully from the workplace for at least a few hours a day is vital for a good quality of life.

Certainly, the nature of fleet management means it’s rare to find standard 9 to 5 office hours, but even if fleet managers have to keep up with drivers on shift, you need to reach a compromise.

It’s important to find points in the day where you can be ‘Out of Office’. If the nature of the fleet means a line of communication between drivers and the company has to be open all the time, delegate.

While it’s lovely to be loved, no single person in a company should be 100% indispensable. That’s just not good business sense. What if you’re sick? What happens when you do (eventually) go on holiday?

In an ideal world there is an individual or group of people who can shoulder some of the more vital fleet tasks in your absence. They may not even be needed, just knowing they’re there is great peace of mind.

2. Stay informed

Where once the fleet manager’s role was just around vehicles and what happened to them on a daily basis, today’s manager has a part to play in almost every area of the business and could come from any background – finance, IT, logistics and more. Fleet manager skill sets are hugely varied.

There is nothing more destabilising than trying to perform a role without feeling fully equipped for it. As the nature of fleet management shifts and evolves so rapidly, a really important part of staying on top of things is to inform yourself.

This could be as simple as setting aside a portion of every day to read the news, digest the trade press or talk to colleagues about latest developments.

Occasionally formal training is needed. Taking time out for it makes you an even bigger asset to your company. If they are not very forthcoming about offering training, it is vital for your professional and personal health to seek it out.

3. Communicate

When we say that the fleet manager is the point around which the whole company revolves, we’re not joking. A fleet manager needs to be able to communicate with drivers, suppliers, customers and board members alike.

Understanding how to communicate is an important skill. Today there are many innovations in the fleet space that bring benefits to the company and its workforce but, if they’re badly communicated, can create resentment or misunderstanding.

It’s a vital part of the fleet manager’s role to be able to translate the business needs to its drivers – and vice versa.

Without great communication, being the focal point for everyone’s demands or even grievances can be very stressful. Some issues are in the fleet manager’s power to resolve, but others are beyond your control. In those situations, communication is the only tool you have to restore harmony.

To diffuse pressure and open doors to solutions, fleet managers should be actively opening lines of communication. Speak to line managers both above and below. Understand expectations and manage them so what you are asked to achieve isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

Find ways of encouraging relevant conversations which have a goal. You need to be able to find out what’s going on without drowning under a tide of repetitive and unsolvable requests.

4. Foster relationships

Ultimately, no fleet manager is an island. To achieve the best work/life balance you need to know who you can rely on.

Whether it’s to step in when you’re not there or keep you up to date when you need information, fleet managers need networks of professionals both inside and outside the company who can support them.

It could be an understanding between suppliers so you get the best products and the best results. Perhaps it’s making sure you know your driver workforce well enough so they can bring any problems to you before they become major issues.

We live in a world where it seems more efficient to send an impersonal email or use a corporate social messaging service. In reality, being able to make personal connections with people is still the best way to gain their support.

By making time to meet and speak to the people you work with, you show that you’re not just interested in their work/life wellbeing but you’re also investing in your own.

Source: Fluid Thinking – Shell

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