How holding individuals to account can improve fleet safety.

Holding people to account to improve fleet safety.

Holding People Accountable

Almost 10 years ago, a Harvard business survey found that there was one management attribute the 46% of managers were found to be poor at, what was it? ‘Holding people accountable’. I’m not sure this situation has changed much. Even this week I’ve been talking to senior managers who felt sure that managers of satellite locations weren’t following fleet risk management procedures.

It was Steven Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that said ‘Accountability breeds Response – Ability. Accountability is that thing that introduces transparency and maximises your chances of preventing problems and meeting goals. Ultimately a local depot team should be trusted to implement your fleet risk management procedures. Everyone should have their part to contribute because if there’s no accountability for a management task, there is no ownership.

What are the signs of a lack of accountability at one of your depots?

Look for:

  • Avoidable vehicle damage that keeps occurring
  • Missed delivery slots
  • Collisions not reported promptly or investigated appropriately
  • A wide variance in driving standards
  • Higher than average vehicle repair and maintenance costs
  • And a lack of trust

So, what needs to be in place for accountability for collision prevention to grow and flourish?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Give clear responsibilities for managing drivers to key roles at your depots. Being really clear on what you want is critical. This could include instructions on the frequency of tool box talk delivery for example.
  2. Introduce goals that the team at the depot can be involved in as a team process. Individual goals should link to the team goals. Give everyone in the team an action they are responsible for and make it formal. Include those team members who don’t drive, maybe they need to communicate route changes or investigate collisions on time.
  3. Give a little leeway for a depot team to take the actions you want them to take and change them to suit local routes or delivery locations.
  4. If a team member lets you down, if they have a collision, make efforts to educate them so it doesn’t happen again as opposed to only considering disciplinary actions. A culture of fear doesn’t help a culture of accountability to grow.
  5. Look at what’s working and what’s not, if you’re told that a management procedure can’t be introduced at a depot, ask people to be honest and get to the reason why.
  6. Give regular feedback, positive and negative, your depot team should expect to be evaluated.
  7. If people are falling short of the standard you’re looking for, they should know about it, and work out a path to improve performance.

The challenge...

One of the main problems here is that developing a culture of accountability requires the manager of the depot to call out people who aren’t performing well. This makes them unpopular; they want to avoid the conflict, so accountability doesn’t establish. The cost of this is a poorly managed depot with vehicles being damaged, claims costs increasing and customer service levels deteriorating.

A sense of accountability can’t be forced but following some of these tips will create a culture where people go the extra mile, feel accountable and take responsibility for fleet risk management.

If you’d like assistance in developing your culture of accountability, please get in touch at


Looking for help with this subject?

If you need more help on this subject or any aspect of Fleet Safety call us on 0333 567 2003.