You believe that towing operators that become complacent in their job can end up being metaphorically asleep at the wheel. What are the dangers of an operator’s job becoming too monotonous?
Well to start with, there are the not so metaphorical dangers that most of us are all to familiar with. Things like damaging the vehicle we were sent after, or our equipment/rigging during the recovery or transport. Or even getting involved in a traffic accident because we reached down to grab the tow sheet from the salvage pool! (Umm I may have some first-hand knowledge there…🙄) Those are all very real problems that most of us would agree, happen far too often and could usually be prevented by simply paying attention to the job at hand!
Hiding quietly under all of those obvious physical dangers are the mental and emotional issues that are seldom discussed and almost never truly dealt with. When in reality, the vast majority of things we blame for physical problems, such as inattentiveness, forgetfulness or fatigue, are physical symptoms of an underlying mental or emotional problem.
Operators are putting themselves in unbelievably demanding situations and rarely considering the mental side of our profession.
Many of us talk about making sure we are in good physical shape,(probably not enough) but when was the last time you heard a couple of operators talking about the time they set aside to work on their mental state? When was the last time you as an individual considered the state of mind you are in when you interact with customers?
Have you ever in all sincerity asked yourself: “Why am I here?”
Yes I know, you have bills to pay and you need a job. I get that. But that is not why you choose to be in the towing and recovery industry. There are plenty of easier ways to make a living.
There is something deeper that gets you in that truck every day and when you understand and own that, it is the source for all the drive and passion you will need!
Do you have any suggestions for operators to prevent their jobs from becoming too monotonous?
First and foremost, find your “Why!”
That's not end-all, be-all, but it is definitely the surest foundation. Another big thing for me is to find the different parts of your daily grind that you can turn into a game and make it enjoyable. Every job on this planet has some part that sucks, every single one! The best thing I have found for those things is to take them as a challenge and see if you can figure out a way to master them. If nothing else it is mental exercise and we could all use a healthy dose of that.
You’re a strong advocate for discovering the “why” in the workplace. What do you think this means for towers?
This was a concept that I was kind of on the edge of understanding for several years. Little flashes of it would come up at times but I never really got a hold of it. Then I read the book “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek and bang! It was like the light turned on and so many things started to fill in the gaps!
Finding your why means figuring out what is driving you; your purpose for existing.
But it is an incredibly personal process and really depends on the individual. No two why's are exactly the same and that's fantastic, because your why is who you are when you are at your best. That’s what gives you a unique perspective, so when you get someone's perspective on a job when they are at their best amazing things happen!
Just think about a team going out to do a recovery and all of them have a solid grasp on who they are and why they are there, and you can see the drive and passion in them working together… man, how could you not be excited to go to work with that in front of you?
How can you make towing a meaningful profession?
Well first you have to ask yourself “meaningful to who?”
It has to start with you. Do you truly feel like your profession is meaningful? If you're answer is not a pretty rapid yes, then in all honesty, you need to get out! There are plenty of other jobs out there and most of them are far less likely to get you killed. This is a dangerous profession! Yes, it should be less dangerous.Yes, we are working on that. But we will never be able to make it as safe as being a librarian. So don't risk your life for something you don't even find meaningful!
Hell, why risk it for anything you don't have a burning passion for?
This is not an issue for most operators, but what about the public?
If you were able to ask the motoring public as a group if our profession was meaningful, it would be met with a resounding “meh.”
So right there is one of our industries biggest problems, how do we get our customers to view us as more than just “meh?”
I am absolutely convinced that it begins with each individual operator’s self worth! That is the true root of our issues in this industry and nearly everything else is a symptom that can be traced back to that. If I could snap my fingers and do one thing, it would be to show each individual their true worth!
Is there any responsibility on the company owner or manager to ensure their operators are challenging themselves in the workplace?
I believe that people are far too willing to give that power to someone else. This is something that is not unique to towing - it’s something that we see far too often in society as a whole. Remember: how you conduct yourself in your personal life affects how you conduct yourself in your work life.
As towers, we often say “Well those auto clubs are just running us into the ground with those rates,” or “those insurance companies are strangling us with these policies.” Stop conceding your power to those around you! In order to take control of those situations you must first take responsibility for not controlling them to begin with. You have the power to make up your own mind! You have the power to speak or hold your tongue, to move or stand still. You will never be able to take back power from someone if you continue to blame them for things you can control.
While I as an owner may have a vested interest in challenging, educating, and inspiring my operators so that they can excel both as individuals, and in their profession, the responsibility lies with the individual!