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Engaging managers act fairly and consistently and use a broad range of strategies, systems and processes to manage and lead. Engaging managers are proactive and understand the contribution that performance management makes in sustaining and improving the performance of individuals, teams and organisations.
Engaging managers understand that they need to achieve a balance between managing and achieving the task and the needs of their team and the individuals within their team. Adair's model of Action Centred Leadership illustrates this balance very effectively with three overlapping circles.
Managers need to understand how to prioritise and allocate their time and resources to meeting the needs of the three areas which can at times compete with each other. Fleet management requires a skill set that is a unique combination of technical, communications, and personal qualities and experience. Few management positions in any company require the number of different skills and experiences than fleet management. Sometimes, though, complacency, frustration, and yes, laziness can prevent a fleet manager from taking these skills to the next level. Three major technical skills fleet managers must be proficient in are financial (accounting, treasury, finance), vehicle (mechanical), and information technology (systems, Internet, applications). Most fleet managers have at least a basic understanding of the financial aspects of fleet management: accounting for leases, treasury and banking, and finance.
At one time, most fleet managers had some background in the auto business: working for a dealer or a repair shop, or selling used vehicles. It's unlikely training in these areas is offered in-house, but again, local colleges and also technical schools offer courses that can provide a good overview of basic vehicle technology.
In the past two decades, information technology (IT), which includes computer systems, the Internet, and software applications has become essential in fleet management.
The majority of technology used in day-to-day fleet management is conducted on the Internet; fleet suppliers provide systems that enable customers to order vehicles, track expense, and make changes, all online. The lifeblood of business and the single most important skill any manager has is the ability to communicate, and fleet management is no exception. Ask any executive, and they'll tell you finding employees with well-developed written communication skills is one of the most difficult tasks they encounter. The first step in honing written communication skills is to solicit an objective review of a written document: a report, memo, e-mail, etc. The more advanced written communications skills become, the more attractive a manager will be as a candidate for advancement. Acquiring training in this area is difficult; some companies have in-house programs, but such training isn't readily available outside.
Electronic communication is primarily via e-mail, a blessing or a curse, depending upon how it is used. E-mail should be used to disseminate information, respond to inquiries, or provide notification.
Print copies of important e-mails, and keep folders in your e-mail application for various subjects.
The personal skills good fleet managers have are difficult to define, and determining how they can be taken to the next level is equally difficult.
Negotiating isn't a matter of simply "lowballing" a supplier's offer and engaging in a back-and-forth discussion of price.
Negotiating with repair shops won't be about price; it will use the technical understanding and knowledge to make certain that only repairs necessary to keep the vehicle safe and dependable are done.
Patience is indeed a virtue as it pertains not only to effective fleet management, but also to management in general.
It is not unusual for new bosses to try to "bully" fleet managers with ideas they believe are innovative, effective, and original.
Through this experience, when drivers call or e-mail that their vehicles don't have the cargo area or passenger room they need, the fleet manager is better able to understand and judge the complaints properly.



Empathy puts a fleet manager in the chair of the executive frustrated with chronically late quarterly reports.
There are a multitude of specialized fleet applications that require the installation of auxiliary equipment on a truck or in a van.
The best fleet managers survived the total fleet management era because they brought value to their companies. A lot has changed in the past 10-15 years, so we can only imagine this momentum will continue into the next decade-plus.
I adapted Kammy Hatnes' pyramid structure to show the increasingly difficult management skills you must master at each level and to also display how these management skills build on each other to help you achieve success in your management career. You should still be able to navigate through these materials but selftest questions will not work. The neglect of any one of the circles will impact negatively upon medium and long term performance. Technical, communications, and personal skills all play a part in successful fleet management.
Find that motivation and use the following checklist for a more fulfilling and successful fleet management career. Taking these skills to the next level will enable a fleet manager to not only do the job better, but to stand out when opportunities for advancement arise. If the company offers tuition reimbursement, those funds help underwrite local college adult education courses that can broaden knowledge and understanding.
No longer; fleet managers now come from any number of backgrounds, including purchasing, sourcing, accounting, and even sales. As far as the automotive business goes, while similar formal training isn't available, a number of sources are available to become knowledgeable in the industry's practices, people, and history. Understanding electronic data flow, applications such as Microsoft's Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and the Internet's vast resources will not only enhance fleet management performance, but make the fleet manager better prepared for upward movement in the organization.
Fleet managers use all three types of communication - oral, written, and electronic - and the skills needed to use them effectively are keys to success. Knowing how to get a point across succinctly and clearly, using proper grammar, spelling, and syntax unfortunately has become a rarity. Sometimes, it's difficult to admit such a shortcoming, but a trusted friend or colleague can be invaluable in improving skills. And remember this important bit of business wisdom: never write something to someone you wouldn't say to them face to face. Even though electronic (written) communication has become a staple in day-to-day fleet management, the telephone still reigns.
If you promised a call back, make the call, even if you don't have a resolution to the problem or the promised information. E-mail is most useful in distributing information to others, using the writing skills described previously, and simple e-mail etiquette. It should not be used to "discuss" issues, debate problems, or make or respond to complaints. And, just as with any other written communications, never put something in an e-mail that you wouldn't say in person. You probably receive more e-mails than you care to count each day, and the more quickly you can type a response, the more productive you can be. Fleet managers must be able to negotiate with suppliers, drivers, management, and repair shops. Getting a voicemail from a driver or an e-mail from the boss with bad news can spoil the day. Be patient (Skill #8) and calmly explain why the idea isn't quite as brilliant as the manager thought and that it's been considered before (if that is the case) - or why it hasn't.
The ability to "put yourself in the shoes of others" is rare, but doing so can help maintain good relationships, particularly with drivers. Seeing both sides of the coin ensures sound decisions that consider the needs of all stakeholders.


What complicates the planning process is that there are as many ways to upfit a vehicle as there are chassis and body configurations.
As you develop your skill as a leader, as you make the transition from manager to leader, you will achieve the success you truly want in your management career. Finally, "learn by doing;" that is, make sure that when, for example, a lease versus buy analysis is done, you are involved. A lack of knowledge and skill in vehicle technology (not to mention the auto business in general, including purchasing, production, and used vehicles) is a significant drawback to fleet management excellence. Peers, fleet-minded dealers, fleet lessors, and service companies are usually more than willing to help. Word) in the normal course of the day, as well as PowerPoint in making presentations to management and others. The daily "fires" of fleet management tend to arise on the telephone, and putting them out requires oral communication skills that get to the problem and solution quickly. If on hold for more than a minute or so, get back on and assure the caller you'll be right back. Never use company e-mail for personal business; remember, every e-mail creates a permanent record of its written message, and that can come back to haunt an employee. Skilled negotiation can save the company money and downtime, solve difficult problems, and help the fleet manager advance his or her agenda. Keep in mind a long-term relationship is more valuable and ultimately less costly than choosing on the basis of the lowest price. The goal of effective negotiation isn't necessarily getting what you want; it is getting the best value for what you're willing to pay.
Not many resources are available to train someone to be patient, but one can remember certain concepts to help hone the quality. Responding on the spot, however, can turn a tough situation into a disaster, not only in developing a solution, but also in maintaining the relationships a good manager needs. If the party becomes abusive, simply suggest the communication be continued when you both are calm. A fleet manager must be confident he or she is the expert in the company, and unafraid to make certain  their expertise and skills is understood and appreciated by others. Confidence isn't cockiness; however, confidence comes through mature, businesslike, and informed communication. Developing a vehicle selector in a vacuum isn't a good way to understand fully what a fleet driver needs to do the job.
It is critical that you properly define a truck’s application to ensure the supplier builds the truck to meet its intended use. Each level of the Management Skills Pyramid is listed below and is discussed in more detail on the linked pages.The Management Skills Pyramid, Level 1Level 1 of the Management Skills Pyramid shows the basic skills a manager must master just to get the job done.
Practical application of these skills is critical to keep them sharp and to understand fully how they impact fleet management.
Any and all training in these IT items can be found quickly and easily, either in-house or outside the company. Ask someone else to review the text for an objective opinion as to whether or not your goal of simplicity and clarity has been achieved. A valuable practice is to take a few days during the year to get out in the field, spend these days with drivers, observe what they do and the capabilities the vehicle they drive must have.
Plenty of public speaking courses are available; tying public speaking abilities with PowerPoint or other such skills will build confidence.



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