Archive for September, 2014

Integrity

Posted by

[in-teg-ri-tee] /ɪnˈtɛg rɪ ti/

noun

adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

One of our most important core values is “Integrity.”  Honesty and Integrity are absolutely essential for success in life – in all areas of life.  The good news is that anyone can develop both honesty and integrity.  Zig Ziglar

What does “integrity” mean for the team at ACT?  It means doing the right thing, and doing it when no one is looking, even when no one will even ever know you did it.  It is how we conduct ourselves in business and in life.  The habit of conducting ourselves with integrity determines our reputations.  Reputation is one of those things that takes a long time to earn, but can be lost very easily.  Once lost, it takes a long time, if ever, to regain.  Reputation, in turn, determines our success.  Without our reputation, nothing else matters.

We see examples of integrity throughout our culture.  For example, at ACT our motto is that we conduct business strictly “by the book,” …no exceptions… no excuses.  There are so many laws, local, state and federal from speed limits to traffic control devices, weight laws, securement laws, lane laws, hours of service, equipment inspection, seat belts and on and on.  We may not agree with the myriad of laws and regulations that have been passed and are being passed at a frantic pace, but we follow them.  The answer to laws we don’t agree with is to call and write our elected representatives, not to try to ignore or evade the law.  I always say, if you want to make money breaking the law, don’t do it here, go be a criminal somewhere else.

Why is this important?  I don’t know about you, but I like sleeping at night.  We have so much to worry about in trucking without creating unnecessary issues for ourselves.  Further, doing business within the law is good business.  It has worked for ACT for many years as others fail because breaking the law eventually catches up with you.  Think about what happens in a bad wreck.  The first thing a plaintiff’s lawyer will do is subpoena cell phone records, logs, engine computer data in a broad fishing expedition try to inflame juries, win the case and gain punitive damages.  This can also result in a driver being charged with criminal negligence.  We would much rather the issue center on the actual cause of the wreck because we know that in most cases, wrecks are caused by the passenger vehicle, not the truck.  The average settlement for a fatality wreck nears $4 million.  Neither of us makes much on one load…think about how many loads would have to be hauled to pay for just one bad wreck.

Integrity is important with our regulators.  We have it.  If you ask most regulators in Missouri, they will tell you that ACT is one of the safest carriers.  That helps, when you want a green light, when stopped at the scales, when we are being audited, and with our insurance carriers when we negotiate premiums.

Integrity is important to the customers that provide miles for you.  We have it.  If you ask any of our customers about ACT, they will tell you that we are their best carrier.  This reputation is important and hard earned.  With customers, we contractually agree to keep good safety scores and will lose business if we don’t take care of this.  Our tradition with customers, as well as all aspects of our business, is accountability.  We say what we do, and we do what we say.  Integrity means that our customers know that if we say we’ll deliver at a certain time…we do it.  This is good business as well.

Integrity is important in how we deal with each other.  We have reputations with each other and it is important to maintain and nurture these.  Nothing gripes me worse than hearing about a driver who arrives to pick up a trailer and the tire is bald.   As hard as the job of driving is, I would hope that we have the integrity and respect to take care of each other and treat each other right.  Leave a trailer in the condition you would want to find it.  If we all did this, it would make all our jobs easier. The Golden Rule works well in life and business.

Integrity means that when we make a mistake, we own it and own up to it.  We talk honesty, even when it is hard.  Why?  Excuses, denial and blame always lead to failure, while honesty, integrity and accountability are key success ingredients.  We are a team of winners and we act as such.

The concept of integrity is closely related to other ACT core values of accountability, mutual respect, safety and family.  These values are what make us better than the rest.
At ACT, we guard them carefully.

Happy Trucking!  ~Tom

 

 

Mutual Respect

Posted by

R E S P E C T
Find out what it means to me
R E S P E C T
Take care, T C B  ~Aretha Franklin

In defining our core values at ACT, one of the most important values we noticed that we share (and insist on) is that of mutual respect.  What is mutual respect?  What does it mean?

Mutual respect means a lot of things.  Why is it important to you?  I will tell you right up front that unless you can interact with other associates in an atmosphere of mutual respect, you will not be successful at ACT.  But if you think hard on it, treating others with mutual respect really is in your best interest because it makes you more successful.

Mutual respect is really an ancient time honored idea and works for our betterment both in our personal lives as well as in our business lives.  At its simplest definition, it is the “Golden Rule.”  That is to say, “Treat others as you would want them to treat you.” Simple, direct, kind and practical.  After all, no one likes to be demeaned or yelled at or put down.  Issues don’t get resolved this way.  Think about how you feel when someone has insulted you or put you down.  I’m sure you remember these instances for a long time.  As Mary Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you’ve said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  It is also probably true that kind words fade from memory over time but words that made you feel bad stick around forever and accumulate like junk in the basement.  So think about this….in conducting yourself around others, do you water and replenish the kind words to keep them fresh, or do you keep accumulating bad feelings in the basement?  If you do the former, people will always want to work with you –  if you do the later, people will dislike you and want to avoid you.  In a business that requires a lot of teamwork and communication, ask yourself this question:  “How effective will I be as a member of the team, if people would prefer to avoid me, or even worse, harbor grudges against me for things I have long forgotten, but they have long remembered?  Conversely, how successful will I be if people look forward to working with me?  The answers are obvious.

How do you do it?  We all have good days and bad, good moods and bad. We also all have people we like and some we don’t like as well.  In business we run into a lot of different personalities; whiners, blamers, avoiders, excuse makers, narcissists, drama queens and kings, and the perpetual gloomy Eeyores.  But we must all work together to get a job done to be effective. There will undoubtedly be situations where our first instinct is to get our back up or try to avoid the person.   But we must deal with all types to be effective at work.

So we must deal with each other.  Earn the reputation as a respectful person.  One of the most effective ways of communicating with others both honestly and directly, without impinging on their dignity, no matter how hard the topic of the conversation may be, is to live by the maxim, “Attack the issue, not the person.”  If you attack the issues, hard or unpleasant as it may be, you leave intact the other person’s sense of value and dignity.  By doing this you can steer the conversation into a solution.  If they get personal, don’t go there.   Bring the conversation back to the issue, and stay away from the personal level.  You’ve heard about what happens when you wrestle a pig?  You both get dirty.

By focusing on the issue, you will earn the added benefit of respect and trust the next time you need to address an issue together.  But if you take the lazy out of attacking the person, a couple of bad things happen.  For one, you are in a conversation which will not find a good solution, and you will leave a smell in the room, kind of like burnt toast.  It will linger a long time, making your next conversation even more difficult.

We have many challenges in trucking that we need to work together to solve.  Our value of mutual respect is more than a nice thing to do….it is a business necessity.  Think about this bedrock value because it is very important to all of us at ACT.  Those that share this important value of mutual respect are good members of the ACT team and can be successful here.

Happy Trucking!  ~Tom

 

Accountability

Posted by

Accountability

ac·count·abil·i·ty

noun ə-ˌkau̇n-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē

Definition of ACCOUNTABILITY

: the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions <public officials lacking accountability>

One of our core values at ACT is “Accountability.  “Accountability breeds response-ability.” Stephen R. Covey.  The definition implies trust, self-motivation, and maturity. In fact, employees who are accountable, and who work together toward higher accountability in their workplace, make the business more efficient and productive overall. We accept our individual and team responsibilities in all of our decisions and actions in order to meet our commitments.  That commitment could be to ACT, to each other, to a supervisor, to one we supervise, to a customer, to a driver, to the motoring public or to the governmental and regulatory bodies we work with.

Mutual accountability is one of the things that make ACT better than other trucking companies.  When we say we will do something, we do it.  If we can’t do something, we don’t say that we’ll do it in the first place.   When confronted with obstacles, we think of alternatives to how we CAN accomplish the goal.  When we set goals, we all work together to achieve them.  In the fast paced world of trucking, there are a lot of moving parts, people, drivers, trucks, loads, trailers and more.  It is a daily challenge to get all those parts working together as smoothly as possible.  How do we do it every day?  We can do it because we can trust all ACT associates to be accountable, and to do what they say they will do, do what they are supposed to do, and accept responsibility for doing it.

In other companies, the people are like a snowflake in an avalanche.  It’s easy to hide and no one really notices if they are doing their part or not.  But this breaks down if an associate fails to hold him or herself accountable…Why?  Because when we don’t hold ourselves accountable, others don’t trust us….and when we are not trusted to do our part, then the group dynamic breaks down and we go backwards.  We all know what happens if everyone tries to avoid accountability.  You can see this every day if you watch politicians on the news…and what happens?  Nothing meaningful gets done while problems grow and fester.  Think of the politician… the concept is closely related to integrity.  If you are in a position which is compensated, and responsible to do a job to accomplish certain things, but you don’t do them, isn’t that really a lack of honesty?  If you are in denial of a problem, make excuses or blame others for every problem, isn’t that a lack of accountability?

The concept of accountability is closely related to the concept of teamwork.  At ACT we know that several heads are better than one and that we can accomplish so much more working together than individually.  Accountability at work is important to a business’s success as a whole. Every employee, no matter what level of seniority, is equally responsible for aiding in the success of the company. In order to achieve the goals of the company, long and short term, it is important that all people within the company work together and share accountability. Employees who work together towards the same overall goals help their workplace to become more accountable, in turn making the business more productive and efficient.

Being accountable means being not only responsible for something but also ultimately answerable for your own actions.  It is a personal choice, indispensable in our business.  That is why we consider it a core value.  Holding ourselves accountable for our roles is essential to each employee’s success.  At ACT, it is at the heart of our shared values.  Thank you for holding yourself accountable and proud every day.

Happy trucking! ~Tom

 

What Really Matters

Posted by

What really matters?

What is the difference between a good trucking company which you would like to call “home” and a bad one?

All trucking companies have similarities.  We all have trucks, trailers and shops.  We all have customers we have to take care of, some of which are easy and some of which are not.  We all have the same regulatory burden.  The job of the truck driver is not easy…so let’s not sugar coat it.  We most all get paid by the mile, which means that our paycheck is not the same every week, although our bills are.  We are away from home for days at a time, while the spouse at home is paying the bills and doing the work of two parents.  There are many things outside of our control, shippers, weather, traffic, freight patterns and too much time to think about it.  Often a driver feels forgotten as he waits for his name to be called for a shower after being in a truck stop way too long.  The truck stops breed negativity from other drivers, which is very contagious and can bring our mood down.  These are things that all trucking jobs have in common.

How are we at ACT different from the others?  We have top industry pay, good trucks and three trailers for each truck but the real difference is in our culture.  What is culture, you say?  Sounds like a CEO word.  Well, to simplify, culture is the values that people in the company share.  Like people have different personalities, so do trucking companies.  Perhaps you’ve seen that in different places you have worked.  The personality really flows from the core values and principals we conduct ourselves by.

We have recently gone through an exercise where we have defined our values so that every driver, associate, and mechanic understands what they are.  These values are the thread woven through our organization defining how we do business and how we treat each other.  We want all of our drivers and contractors to understand these…because this is how we do business.  We believe this is what sets ACT apart from other trucking companies.  At the end of the day, getting our work done is important, but so is how we got the work done.

Here are our values:

AMERICAN CENTRAL TRANSPORT

CORE VALUES

SAFETY – “Going above and beyond what the law requires.”

We will never require or imply that an employee or contractor do anything that they believe violates a law, regulation or that is unsafe; nor will that  employee or contractor suffer any consequences from this action.
ACCOUNTABILITY – “Saying what you’ll do. Doing what you say with no excuses.”

We accept our individual and team responsibilities for our performance in all of our decisions and actions in order to meet our commitments.
INTEGRITY – “Doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”

We are committed to doing business with customers, vendors, associates, and contractors by the book.  We conduct ourselves and do business within the law…no kidding and with no exceptions.
RESPECTABILITY – “Treating others the way you want to be treated.”

We value individual differences and the unique strengths, skills, expertise and background of our associates and contractors.  We treat others in a polite and courteous manner.
FAMILY – “Caring, committing, communicating and appreciating.”

We care for each other and strive to maintain an environment that is positive and that encourages open communication where everyone is heard and valued.   We understand and value the importance of hard work, a healthy family life and fun.

 

These are what matter and they do make a real difference.  If you are looking for a new job in trucking, ask the recruiter about that company’s values.  If they hedge or can’t tell you, they’ve likely never thought them out and what you will get is a grab bag.  But if you are a person of values and if you share ours, you could be an important part of our team.  This could be the place you find that you can call “home.”

 

Tom Kretsinger, Jr.

President, Chief Example & Value Custodian