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Art of Dispatching - Advisor Article - Part 2 of 4

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Art of Dispatching - Advisor Article - Part 2 of 4 by FTI Groups (from 2006)


Just wanted to share Part 2 of this article from the Advisor that is currently arriign in member mailboxes.



Compliment your driver staff. It will motivate them to perform. Yes, I wrote “your” driver staff. The old adage “if you live by the sword, you will die by the sword” could be rewritten for the dispatcher. The dispatcher’s version would read “if you live by the driver, you will die by the driver”, and believe me, a dispatcher lives by his drivers. In other words, the dispatcher is so dependent on the driver staff for the success of his job, that he will only be as good as the drivers to whom he assigns calls. A well-timed “good job” on the radio goes a long way toward motivating a driver to a repeat performance in the future. A note in a driver’s office mailbox is not just a way of saying “thanks for handling that mad customer”, but it provides something for him to take home and show his family. A quick message over the mobile data terminal or his Nextel to say “thanks for the way you handled that last call” will encourage the driver in his 10 hour day of fighting traffic and rude drivers.

A while back, Campbell’s Soup ran a series of television commercials warning viewers –“Never underestimate the power of soup.” While you scoff at the idea that soup has some power, I bet you remember the commercial, which is the whole idea isn’t it? Likewise, never underestimate the power of a sincere compliment, a thoughtful thank you for a job well done, a simple word of encouragement that someone’s effort is appreciated. It will not only brighten the driver’s day, but it will foster loyalty, build trust, and strengthen work habits. It will make everyone more productive. Be moved to motivate.

A dispatcher does not assign calls to drivers…he sends people to serve other people.


Do it quickly. Do it correctly. Do it consistently. The need for the confrontation of a driver performing his job poorly, being insubordinate or acting rudely is absolutely critical. As a dispatcher, you are a supervisor. As a supervisor, you have the authority and responsibility to confront your fellow employees. The key to the confrontation lies in the goal. If the goal of the confrontation is for the company to provide better service to its customers, or for the company to provide a pleasant working environment for all employees, the encounter is well founded. However, a power hungry dispatcher with the authority and responsibility to confront, who is having a bad day, is a dangerous animal indeed. The necessity of confrontation cannot be over emphasized; however your ability to confront will determine the success, as well as that of the one whom you are confronting. It can be painful, but it should always be kept positive. Confrontation is a means to an end. The end is to aid in making the driver successful, thus making the dispatcher successful. So be careful to measure personal involvement and emotions in any confrontational situation.

Do it quickly…
Nothing can be more effective than a well-timed word of confrontation. Asking a driver about a situation while it is fresh on their mind is essential to a meaningful resolution. It will enhance the drivers’ ability to provide an accurate reason for their action, which will enable the dispatcher to make sure that he has the big picture and all of the facts. Conversely, waiting too long to confront a driver about a situation may result in forgetfulness, resentfulness, and may work to de-motivate that individual.

Do it correctly…
Trying to hit a Nolan Ryan fast ball with a toothpick would be a futile at best. Even if you were fortunate enough to hit the ball, the toothpick would burst into pieces, or even more likely, flames! Likewise, confronting someone without knowing how to do it is usually detrimental to the productivity of both parties at best, and more likely, grounds for a fist fight! Know your company policies regarding employee counseling. Always confront a person’s behavior, and never the person! It is a serious matter, so if you do not know how to do it, ask for help from your supervisor or from someone with personnel counseling experience. Winging it will probably leave you frustrated and angry, as well as leaving the one whom you confronted bewildered and mad. While many tout their enjoyment of confrontation, few know how to do it correctly. When I was a child, suppositories were a common prescription for someone suffering from nausea. While it was necessary to cure the ailment, the means of treatment was most unpleasant. So it is with confrontation.

Do it consistently…
Nothing is more demoralizing for a driver than to be corrected for doing something, and than to hear someone else commit the same mistake and escape with no punishment. Failure to provide statuses, inaccurate or incomplete radio responses, inappropriate comments about customers, dispatchers, or fellow employees must all be confronted…no matter who makes them! Many times, the biggest abusers of policy and decorum are those people who have been exposed to them the longest. In the old west, these people were the gunfighters and bank robbers. They were unwilling to submit to the laws of the land, and rather than abide by the established rules, lived a life of confrontation. Many times, their life ended early because the one whom they confronted, was better at confrontation than they were! Remember, confrontation is only a tool. Used correctly, it is a constructive instrument. Used incorrectly, it will inflict harm and resentment.

To see Part One, it is on TowForce at The Art of Dispatch - Part One

Hope you enjoy the article... More to come.

-Jeffrey Godwin

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