Josh Christie is the VP of Marketing & Recruiting at D&L Transport
As another NCAA College Basketball season comes to a close, and the first pitch has been thrown across ballparks in MLB, we see teams and fans glowing in the optimism of what their teams did and/or what their teams will do in the near future. Every so often, this optimistic hope turns into reality. The ‘team’ performs as such, and everything comes together in a victorious celebration.
How can the right team take you to the promised land? Some of the most talented teams of individual players rarely achieve the pinnacle of success. Look at the latest champions in any sport. Rarely is it a collection of all-stars. Amongst the elite performers, there’s a group of role players that perform their jobs incredibly well to support the overall team, which provides a winning formula. The players as individuals were often overlooked. Yet, they had a common goal of working together to achieve success. It’s called teamwork.
Of course, we’re based in Kansas City and grew up here. So, we feel we know a thing or two, when it comes to building successful football teams. Even the latest successful run wasn’t based on individual performers. It took the collective talents of administrators, coaches and players to collaborate and execute on the mission to reach the next level. But it isn’t always the top draft picks that help make a great team. We only need to look at the last pick of the 2022 NFL draft and what he did for the 49ers this year coming off the bench. That highlights that all team members are essential.
But how do you leverage every one of your players for successful operations? Even if you’re flying as a solo Freight Agent, you’ll find tips in this article for what to look for in a Parent Broker and their Agent Program. We believe our Agent Program has the unique collection of all-stars in Back Office Support, combined with the common goal of Agent success.
Here are our top 10 tips based on what we practice every single day.
1. Exhibit Team Leadership Every Minute of Every Day
The ideal team leader provides an example for their team to follow. That example covers everything from attitude to arrival — a supportive and encouraging attitude and arrival on time every day. It’s all about being available when team members need you. As an Agent, you know all too well, that a regional 9a-5p support team is not the most effective way to run your operations.
They treat everyone with respect and dignity, caring for their well-being and job and career development. But it doesn’t mean cutting a team member some slack time after time. Instead, it holds all members to the same high standards of performance and conduct.
In the world of sports, that leadership can come not only from the traditional leader, for example, the quarterback, the midfielder or the catcher, but from everyone on the team. Team members demonstrate their leadership through steady high-level performance and going above and beyond as urgent needs arise.
2. Establish a Clear Team Vision
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will lead you there. Defining your purpose and establishing a plan are critical to developing a goal-oriented team. That also requires a clear team structure. While you want team members to work with each other, including covering for one another occasionally, you also need clearly delineated roles and responsibilities for each team member. This helps to establish ownership of duties and tasks.
Every college basketball team starts with a vision of winning the NCAA championship. But only the teams that establish the right plan and apply their full range of skills and support to the effort have a chance of winning. Case-in-point, the latest NCAA Division 1 Tournament. Talk about madness! For the first time in history, the Elite 8 lacked a #1 seed, and the Final Four lacked either a #1 or #2 seed. This is the perfect example of teammates coming together (and staying together) with their talents and discipline to their roles, to achieve the highest level of success.
Here at D&L, we have a clear team vision of supporting Freight Agents and a guiding principle of saying “yes” as much as possible. Freight Agent support is our only business; every team member is here to make that happen.
3. Provide the Right Tools and Resources
It’s not enough to hire team members, provide them with a job description, and put them to work. They must have the right tools and resources to get the job done. It can’t be a computer that needs frequent reboots and repairs. It must operate flawlessly every day so the employee can do the same.
In sports, that means that the team has the right equipment that is top of the line and matches their needs and style. That helps team members and the overall team operate at their best.
At D&L, we provide Freight Agent support with leading-edge technology. That software is developed and continuously improved based on Agent input and ongoing dialogue. That, in turn, is supported by quick training and lightning support.
4. Build Trusting Relationships
Teamwork can only happen if there’s trust between team members and the broader organization. Trust, in turn, is built over time based on team member interactions and the relationships nurtured daily. Only when trust has been established will team members share honest observations and their personal opinions. Without that, mutual problem-solving and conflict resolution will prove nearly impossible.
The ultimate example of trust is the trapeze artist who flies through the air into the hands of their team member. D&L doesn’t expect their Agents to fly into their grip. But then, they don’t need to. The support is always there, with responses in less than 60 seconds from our dedicated Back Office support team, Claims Disputes Team, and LTL Support Team. We also have a dedicated team focused on carriers for onboarding, compliance, and support. So you can be sure you won’t fall from the trapeze because of missing D&L support.
5. Invest in Open and Honest Communication
Communication is central to building relationships and developing teams that work together. Actively listening and sharing information helps build workplace relationships. But that communication needs to be two-way. Team members must feel confident sharing their insight without conflict from other team members or leadership.
Open and honest communication gets everything on the table. Only then can it be identified and addressed with hard work and cooperation. To be an effective team member, understanding that there’s always a better way to improving your role is the key to always improving the overall team success.
Imagine a football huddle where the quarterback ignored the wide receiver’s insight into the cornerback’s weaknesses—by the same token, pointing out that the same wide receiver’s problems with a specific passing route must be taken in and acted upon, not generate negative or hurt feelings. Again, it’s all about team success.
With D&L, since 2005, we’ve been helping Freight Agents succeed in the face of challenging events and problems. We have the experience and the expertise to provide open and honest communication, all to help our Freight Agents succeed.
Every member of our Kansas City team has some form of ‘Agent Support’ in their job description. We’re constantly communicating across departments and with our Agents to ask the question – ‘can this be done better?’ Can we make adjustments to remove obstacles and improve efficiencies?
6. Develop Team Member Diversity
The goal of any team is to surface first the problems and then the solutions. That takes observant team members who contribute their perspectives to every challenge. That means that every team member must bring their diverse backgrounds, including culture, work experience, gender, age, skills, talents, and education, to their work and the team every day. Team leaders must also recognize the diverse perspectives available and draw them into group problem-solving.
In any sports team, from baseball to basketball, you can readily identify team member diversity that contributes to the team’s success at every level of the game. D&L’s team members bring many different perspectives to their work and contribute considerably to our success. Make sure this happens with your operation.
At D&L, we recognize that not all Agents fit the same profile. That’s why we don’t try to fit every Agent into a restrictive box. The diverse and unique experiences of the D&L support team translate to flexibility during onboarding. There’s almost no scenario we haven’t seen and adapted to. Our object is to let Agents run their business their way. We adapt to meet this need.
7. Ensure that Team Members Carry Their Weight
Everyone must bring their A-game to work in today’s lean business environment. Trusting relationships can’t be built if the team members are themselves untrustworthy. If an assignment is given, it needs to be carried out promptly, efficiently, and successfully. That, in turn, shows the rest of the team that they can be relied upon every single day and particularly when crunch times happen.
In virtually every sport, video review and analysis are used to identify the opposing team’s weaknesses, whether team responses to situations or individual players showing a critical shortcoming. All this is used to gain insight into how the team can be beaten.
Here at D&L, you can be sure that every team member is ready to handle anything you bring them. We have a “bring it on” attitude and always look for ways to say “yes.” We call it muscle building — hiring the right people and supporting them in their work.
Honesty, Transparency and Respect are not just buzzwords in our marketing campaigns. At D&L, this is the foundation for how we hold each other accountable. We’re all-in. Even our President adds himself to call coverage during the week in order to stay connected to our Agents and their needs.
8. Support One Another
Support to team members needs to come from a wide range of people. That includes the team leader, the organization, and every team member. In addition, significant support comes from the team vision, open and honest communication, and trusting relationships, as we’ve outlined above. But also, the team environment needs to be open enough to allow and encourage team members to support each other.
A sports analogy that comes to mind is the incredible human pyramids that cheerleading teams build as part of their competitions. Wow. Everyone supports everyone else in those situations, with the top-level person relying upon the rest of the team to literally hold together.
As noted earlier, D&L has no other business than supporting Freight Agents. So while we might not be formed into a pyramid, the support is just as real and reliable. A strong foundation that supports the organization and provides the stability for others to reach new heights.
9. Encourage Adaptability and Flexibility
While an offensive lineman and receiver may not be able to swap positions mid-game, it has been done successfully. Such team members’ adaptability doesn’t come without planning and practice (lots of practice in this scenario). With Freight Agency teams, it takes team member training and support in their assigned tasks as well as cross-training in other areas.
This conscious development focused on improving flexibility shows your support of the team member and your willingness to help them grow in their career. Plus, it sets the team up for success in the face of absences or turnover or perhaps just a snow day. At D&L, all our team members are ready to move in whatever direction is required to support our Freight Agents.
Many team members at D&L wear multiple hats. This ensures coverage for our Agents to get the answers they need, when they need them.
10. Celebrate Successes
Here in Kansas City, we’ve seen some recent celebrations of success, from on-the-field celebrations to parades; the Chiefs do it right. Celebrating success, big and small, is just as important with your team. It’s one element of support to team members and visible evidence that your team vision means something.
Celebrate achievements when they happen. It can also be supportive to have regular team gatherings, perhaps over lunch, to communicate the challenges that have been overcome and who made it happen.
At D&L, we celebrate with our team, and we also celebrate with our Freight Agents through the D&L President’s Club. You’re invited to join!
Ready to Move Your Freight Agency?
As you can tell, pulling together the right team is at the heart of successful operations. That’s why it is so important for you and your Freight Agency to join the best Freight Agency program in the business.
For insight into our Freight Agent program, check out our BETTERLIFE™ with D&L video series. We talk to our Agents and select subject matter experts to help you navigate the challenging world of the Freight Agent.
Of course, we feel that our Freight Agency program is the best in the business. To see for yourself, look at our Agent Opportunities page. You can also hear directly from our successful Agents. Then, get in touch, and we can get started.
Call toll-free: 866.559.0203. Or complete the form at D&L Agent Requirements.
D&L Transport. Your Family in Freight.