Best Tips For Working In a Mixed Gender Driving Teamby Jake Tully - Published: 10/26/2017
In the world of trucking, some teams are simply meant to be. An early shift and a large cup of coffee are a match made in heaven. A long haul driver and their four-legged friend by their side through a trucking job can be the perfect combination. Two drivers taking on a team position – there may be some friction involved.
Team drivers rarely have it easy (assuming any driver has it “easy.”) From having to make concessions to keep both seats happy to learning to share quarters with another human being, team trucking is not for the faint of heart.
Some teams are best friends, others are husband and wife, some teams are even siblings or a father and son duo. What about those who have little to no say in who they get teamed up with? When a company plays match-maker it can be either be the perfect fit or a pairing that gets along just as well as water and oil.
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A company-made pairing has to potential to become even more difficult when a male and female driver are paired together. When a team consisting of a man and a woman are not in a relationship, finding yourself with a partner of the other sex can be tricky, to say the least. Perhaps the most valuable piece of advice for finding an maintaining a healthy team experience is first finding best position available. The following are some points for both men and women in the cab to keep in mind when working in close quarters.
1. Know Your Boundaries
Keeping in mind one’s boundaries is an important tip for any team, regardless of their sex. Simply because you are seated beside someone does not give you license to assume that you will become fast friends – it is, after all, a truck driving job, at its basis. Observe your partner when they are driving and when they are not and see how frequently they like to talk, if they enjoy having the music on while working and what their sleep schedule is like.
Don’t attempt to change the mind of your partner in terms of their likes and dislikes and do not attempt to “bring them around” in order to see your side of things. Understand where they are coming from and accept their personalities. Team changes rarely occur and they certainly don’t occur mid route, so make the best of a team trucking position and keep in mind the overall disposition of the person sitting next to you.
2. Act Like A Professional
Professionalism should not be a foreign concept to any commercial driver. As a part of team, both drivers need to meet one another’s level of integrity for the job, while also displaying a large amount of integrity for their co-driver. This ideal is even more important when working with someone of the opposite gender – there is very little room in which to act in a non-professional context. No one wants to feel uncomfortable or treated poorly simply because they are a women or a man trying to do their job.
When there are two drivers in the cab, it’s important to think of them in the context of just that – two drivers. Remove any mystique that might be involved with a male-female combination and simply think of one another as two truckers, working in unison to get a job done. No one wants to be on the long haul from California to Florida with their team partner upset at them for acting unprincipled.
3. Teams Are Not Dating Experiences
Despite what some may think, just because a man and a woman are matched as a team does not mean that they will be automatically become romantically entwined. Neither seat should feel any pressure to pursue a relationship with the other driver, nor should either trucker push an agenda that may make it seem as though there is any pressure to act in a capacity more than doing one’s job. Some hiring managers and driver managers may think that they are creating a husband and wife team by putting two people together, but that is rarely the case.
Trucking is, for the most part, a is not a romantic industry nor is a trucker job a romantic position to begin with. Even if one seat develops feelings for their partner, these feelings ought to be mutual, but they also ought to exist outside of work. No team is falling in love and getting married at a truck stop along the way – it’s better to keep your mind focused on the goal of safe and reliable transportation.
4. Get To Know Your Partner
If one does nothing else within their team, getting to know a partner can be an incredibly valuable tool. Not only will this provide a better understanding of the person who will be driving while you catch up on your sleep, but it makes the person working opposite you feel more comfortable and relaxed. When someone takes interest in another person, it shows a level of respect and care, which are two incredibly important aspects of trucking in harmony.
It may also make a driver feel safe knowing that their partner wants to know about their personal lives, their family, their hobbies, or anything else a person wishes to divulge. If one notices that their partner is frequently mentioning their parents back in Texas, consider asking them if they wouldn’t mind sharing about their family. This also opens up the door for a driver to share about themselves, and a healthy and natural flow of conversation begins to form.
5. Have a Conversation About Safety
This might go without saying, but it is important to get to know your partner’s thoughts on safe driving and what habits they practice or refrain from in order to maintain a level of safety. While it is not always the case, male and female truckers may sometimes exhibit different habits when driving. Talk to your partner about their feelings regarding using technology when they drive or what they think about the phone as a tool or a distraction. However, don’t assume that one of you will be a better driver just because of your sex. As more women take places in the industry, we see a nationwide presence of incredible women truckers.
Drivers are often trained differently in regards to safety practices depending on where they received their schooling and the past careers they may have held. What one driver considers to be perfectly safe, another driver may deem as dangerous and uncalled for in terms of one’s driving habits. Just as every trucking company lays out their regulations for safe operation, drivers who are working together should discuss their personal approach to what constitutes safe driving.
6. Don’t Let Your Assumptions Get In The Way of A Great Team
On both sides of the equation, male and female truckers may hold unfair and untrue preconceived notions about one another. These myths of the industry are just that – myths. One side may think that male truckers are rude, dirty and unprofessional. The other side may still be of the belief that the trucking industry is no place for women or that female drivers belong back in the office.
Things are not so black and white in these scenarios. The face of the industry has changed to be much more inclusive and to incorporate more people than those who are simply just the “typical” trucker. Men and women from all walks of life have proven to be an integral part of the logistics chain and we have found that there is no one “correct” type of driver in the industry.
Drivers of both sexes are also coming from all over the country, not just states that are considered “traditional” trucking areas. One might find a driver from a smaller area in the country such as New Jersey rather than expecting one to come from the Midwest.
Forming A Winning Team
You may not be able to have complete control over the person sitting next to you in the cab, but you can control the experience that you have with your driving partner. A great deal of ensuring that the time spent together in the truck is productive and professional in the perspective that one brings into the job. Having a positive attitude towards an upcoming team experience will certainly help, as will keeping in mind the notion that all drivers are professionals.
When a man and woman are paired together in a team, there needn’t be any hostility or uncomfortable feelings. Follow the golden rule and treat your team partner the way you would like to be treated, and a fine time in truck will be had by both drivers.
Most importantly, do your research in terms of the best team trucking job available.