Published in the July 2019 issue of Fleet Affiliation
The vocational industry is experiencing an influx of young professionals. Sometimes, this creates a disconnect with industry knowledge gained through experience, successes, and failures. Conversely, this new industry representation can mean untapped partnership opportunities. Nothing replaces long-term experience; however, this group often understands past, current and emerging technology trends (and is eager to learn). High energy and determination can lead these professionals on path of success. Both fleet managers and vendor partnerships have an opportunity for achievement.
The educator and mentor
It’s important for organizations to have a succession plan as seasoned fleet professionals with long-term experience may be looking at next-step career plans. Bestowing and preserving their decades of experience and knowledge is no easy task; however, it’s considered an asset for long-term organizational success.
Partnering newer fleet professionals with truck equipment manufacturers and upfitters bridges the gap between limited knowledge and the latest available vocational industry options. Industry partners often see this as an opportunity to strengthen their customer relationships and are willing to take on the educator role. This situation ensures the fleet continues to receive the latest equipment options. As we know, trucks and truck equipment capable of completing a task 10 years ago, may no longer be optimal. Consideration of the task itself as well as regulatory, operational and environmental requirements is important.
Upgrade the past
New fleet colleagues may attempt to leave their mark in a short period of time. Reaching out to this demographic can be crucial. As discussed, there is no more important skill than long-term experience. Using the building blocks already in place is often an efficient and effective strategy. As the saying goes, “don’t reinvent the wheel.”
Take a look at the wheel’s history. Once made of rounded stone, it essentially has not been reinvented. Granted, the wheel’s raw material changed from stone to wood at some point, and today, they’re made of advanced composites (an upgrade from the past). In the same sense, allowing the tech-savvy generation to enhance a historical and proven truck design is an excellent way for continued advancement.
Finally, it is most important for stakeholders to understand available resources. Knowledge is all-important and should be a two-way exchange of ideas. Experienced fleet managers will benefit when open to learning from incoming generations. Having bilateral exchanges regarding concepts, solutions and emerging technologies will likely keep generational gap challenges to a minimum.
If you would like to discuss this, or other fleet issues with NTEA, contact Chris Lyon, NTEA director of fleet relations.