Sunday, June 20, 2021
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Rampaging coach drivers with road rage, lessons in discipline for small businesses.

Rather than taking inspiration from the news, I’m going to tell you a story about my being chased by a coach driver with road rage and use this example to explain more about how a management system could help his employers.

A few weeks ago I unintentionally upset a local coach driver and found myself being pursued down the road by the driver (in his rather large coach) for nearly a mile, I wasn’t imagining things, this was deliberate and included his racing up to me, hooting and slamming his breaks on just inches from my bumper (I was turning right and he could easily have passed me). To say his driving was intimidating is an understatement and I’m not a nervous driver by any means.

On safely arriving home, feeling flustered I called my mum for a chat and mentioned this event, she’d come across other people who’d refused to travel with this company so I decided I ought to speak to them.

I had a good reception from the manager who appeared to have had issues with this driver in the past but as I had been unable to get his registration, it would be difficult to follow up with disciplinary action.

When I mentioned my profession he opened up to me that he finds discipline a minefield, he, like many employers, believes it impossible to fire poor performers.

The lesson from this is that with a good management system, where objectives, expectations and standards are clearly communicated and enforced, management of performance becomes more straightforward; this coach company had failed to ensure that drivers knew what was expected of them and was therefore unable to react appropriately when things went wrong.

The thing to remember in employment when following through a disciplinary process is the importance of employers acting in a “reasonable” manner where policies and procedures are laid out and followed, ISO 9001 requires employers to “ensure that its personnel are aware of the relevance and importance of their activities” and how they contribute to the business along with monitoring staff performance and any interventions to make sure the action has worked. For small businesses it may also be worth working with an HR consultancy such as Flexible HR to develop a staff manual and ensure your HR policies and procedures are suitable.