Challenges of a Driver Developing through to Management

We’ve interviewed Andy McGuire, one of our senior General Managers, on the challenges faced by a driver developing through to a management role. 

We are about to hold our first residential course helping drivers into management. Having come through from being a driver to a senior manager what advice would you give participants?  

I had a belief that I could do better.  When I looked at what was happening with the planning I could see issues that I thought could be avoided such
as lots of drivers thinking the office staff are useless.  I was out to prove I could walk the walk and not just talk the talk, it was a big ask, lots of drivers before and since have tried and failed in the transition to the office environment.  It has lots of stresses and ups and downs, you have to adapt to be able to travel the roller coaster.

I wanted to be different, I had desire to succeed. At the time I wanted to be the next MD of Maxi Haulage.

It’s been a long journey to get where I am.  I have made mistakes along the way, sometimes you have to make mistakes to learn from them. I don’t think I have ever suffered by making mistakes, as long as you only make the same one once and learn from it.

I think part of making it a success is having someone like minded working alongside each other, I did, I had Danny Smith who is also now a GM. In the early days we had competitions to be the best at productivity when planning, I think we pulled each other along with our drive to be the best.  It was good healthy competition and we both dragged other office staff into it and pulled others along with us. I have had some staff work for me since, where I had a pair and they wanted to be better than one another, I think they have both achieved by having each other to drive each other on and their careers are going well in a short period of time.

Andy McGuire Maxi Haulage

What are challenges of making transition?

  • Money is the biggest, having to go back thousands of pounds Per Annum to go forward.  It’s a big pay cut initially and I needed to work weekend driving to maintain earnings. That said my working week was cut by circa 20 hours and home every night, so home life was a big bonus.  The weekend working closed the gap in pay.
  • Drivers not respecting you as a Manager as was one of the boys. That also works for me sometimes as those that remember me as a driver know I can do what I am asking to be done.
  • Looking at things from the company point of view and not a drivers, a blow out for a driver means 60 – 90 minutes on the bunk.   A blow out for the office could mean a lot of extra work diverting loads for shipping/changing reloads/recovering drivers/missing delivery windows.
  • Expecting too much.  Expecting all drivers and staff to be at the same level; they are not.  It was hard to get my head around why some drivers couldn’t do what others could, it’s still a frustration. You have to learn to work with what you have got.

What advantages coming from a driving background help you in management?

  • Understand a drivers needs
  • Time taken to do jobs, issues caused on motorways/needs of a night out man to eat/wash (for those that do)
  • What issues delays cause, drivers are not bothered, in the office that can impact the day massively.  How to manage those delays.
  • Be able to empathise with the driver
  • Understand what drivers are like and be aware of it, both positively and negatively.  Some drivers need a kick, some need a cuddle to get the best out of them.  Some drivers deliver high standards constantly

What are major influencing factors behind your success?

  • Drive to be the best, desire to set the standard
  • Challenge things if I don’t agree, then argue if I still don’t agree, but then just get on with it if I don’t win my way
  • Look for issues before they happen. Challenge and check everything
  • Try to be methodical when things go wrong to stop them going wrong again
  • Having been a driver I was used to long hours, so have never seen the office job as a 37.5 hour week, which is just as well as it rarely is.
  • Always wanting to be part of a profitable operation, and improve the profit by being part of it. Drive for efficiencies, sometimes driving too hard
  • Don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t/couldn’t do yourself
  • Being managed/nurtured/exposed/encouraged to do different things, even though I have not been great at everything I have been given over the years, I have learnt from it all along the way
  • Being rewarded for efforts, makes all the hard work worthwhile, when its recognised by higher management