How to Improve Drivers Performance: An African Perspective

Dealing with drivers made me a better logistics manager.

But it wasn’t an easy ride. In my early days of supply chain management in Africa, I found it really stressful dealing with drivers, especially truck drivers. Occasionally, I would wonder how a group of people could be so bad, especially when other supply chain managers had the same complaints. At some point, I genuinely thought they were the worst.

In this article, I will describe how I turned around my truck driver’s performance.

The Problem

It wasn’t just me; I noticed my team was also affected.

After trying and failing with so many methods, I figured maybe other supply chain managers and I were wrong in our approach to handling the drivers. So I decided we had to work on ourselves, starting with me. It began with learning all about people management and communication skills. The results improved as I worked on those, but it wasn’t ideal for me.

My team also began seeing better results, but the driver’s situation was not optimal. 

However, with more experience and study, I realized the problem was from my supply chain process. I and the team were not managing the supply chain operations optimally. And it showed. It was the genesis of the problem. We wasted no time working on fixing those, and within a couple of months, it all started looking up.

I mean, talk about a total U-turn.

The  Problem Wasn’t Unique

However, the problem wasn’t unique to my logistics operation.

I noticed many supply chain managers had the same issues with their drivers. On closer observation, they were all making the same mistakes I made. Now, truck drivers are one of the critical factors in every supply chain and logistics process. Without them, there might as well be no trucking or transportation.

Remember in Africa, trucking freight is very critical to our supply chains and the market is worth over $500 billion.

Truck drivers, bike riders, and freelance drivers. Whatever mode of road transportation the logistics operation entails, you need them. However, some of them can be quite sensitive and can be pretty frustrating to work with, especially when your supply process sucks. Poor supply chain processes can easily affect performance, so I don’t blame them. 

As I said, most supply chain managers I came across were to blame for poor driver performance. 

What Do I Mean? 

As a supply chain manager, your supply chain is constantly clogged with long and unnecessary waiting hours.

It will ultimately affect your lead times. So what do you think your drivers will do? Well, they won’t sit down and tolerate it, that’s for sure. And no. Emphasizing the importance of the delivery when you have a record of poor efficiency will not change their mind.

So, How Did I Improve My Truck Driver’s Performance

I compiled five main tips that helped me manage my drivers and team more efficiently.

I know they can be helpful to you, too, especially in the current driver shortage. 

Communicating Effectively With Your Drivers

Excellent communication is necessary for the easy flow of any supply chain.

It also comes in handy when trying to improve a truck driver’s performance. It is important to always ensure your communication is clear, concise, and complete when dealing with drivers. Don’t expect them to fill in the gaps, and don’t mumble it up. 

Drivers get stressed from driving long hours. Don’t make their job any more difficult.

Always Show Up for Your Drivers

Showing up is all about trust. 

Do your drivers trust you to have their back? Constant disappointment eventually adds up; trust me, it breeds resentment from your drivers. More importantly, your drivers will not take you seriously. So next time you make a promise to your team, ensure it is one you can keep. 

And you better keep it. 

Simplify The Logistics Process; It Makes It Easier for The Drivers

A messy, clogged-up supply chain process frustrates everyone involved, the chief of which is the drivers. 

Ok, Picture this: You have driven for 8,10, or 12 hours and are just 30 minutes away from your destination; suddenly, traffic from hell stalls you for a few more hours. Frustrating right? Now, think about how your drivers must feel when your supply chain constantly keeps them hostage. As supply chain managers, we are all eager to get the best from every party involved in the supply chain process.

One primary way to do this is by eliminating gridlock in your supply chain. 

Less Pressure, More Encouragement

As a logistics, fleet, or transportation manager, you must ease the pressure on your supply chain drivers.

However, I understand that sometimes it may be unavoidable. But how about periods when the pressure is low? Sometimes, supply chain managers, in a bid to get the best from their drivers, have put them under constant pressure. Another way to describe it is constant policing. 

Frankly, acting this way makes you toxic, and eventually, the stress sips into your driver’s attitude to work, leaving you with a disaster. 

When managing logistics operations and drivers, trusting your team to get things done is vital. Your drivers also need that trust. I have found that a little encouragement goes a long way to motivate people.

Why not adopt that approach?

Incentives (optional): 

Finally, We all love getting incentives. This is not necessary, but it is very effective.

Incentives like financial bonuses, team dinners, and promotions motivate your drivers, making them more amenable. 


Drivers are like every other employee in the supply chain process.

However, sometimes, we tend to skip the rope with them. It could be for several reasons, but you need them to enjoy your supply chain. Improving your truck drivers performance benefits your supply chain and could greatly improve your output.

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