Here’s how one company helps staff stay up to date and in the know.
Consider the well-known adage if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. A reasonable idea, perhaps – but would modifying the maxim slightly benefit the people who rely on smartphones, mobile electronics and regularly updated software options and allow them to more successfully do their jobs? Yes, says Mike Kelley, Chief Information Officer for Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT), who offers the alternative: if it ain’t broke, make it better.
“Accommodating employees in a way that can be deemed ‘smartly’ and recognizing what the employee needs in terms of communication makes a tremendous difference,” explains Kelley, whose executive role guides the tech aspects in MVT’s strategy, planning, deployment, acquisition and operations, and oversees all issues enhancing the sharing of data, including those related to personnel.
And it’s a position to which he’s ideally suited. MVT has grown dramatically from its 1981 regional roots in the American Southwest to a leading cross-border transportation services provider. Kelley, who joined MVT in 2001, and moved into management after receiving his MBA in Business Computer Services the following year, has helped shepherd the company’s tech trajectory from three servers to an impressive 110, 70 of which are virtual.
“I like the challenges and the puzzles that come with my job. One of my talents is being able to reach the correct conclusion with less information than most people need,” Kelley says, of his affinity for everything tech -- and, despite referring to himself as head geek and nerd herder, he bosses a team of 20 like-minded professionals and is the final word on all data-related issues for MVT’s approximately 2,000 employees.
Bridging the Generations
Among Kelley’s priorities: ensuring that the give-and-take of information acknowledges the perspective of those who rely on it to do their jobs efficiently. For younger employees who have grown up with computers and prefer the options that come with cyber exchanges, text and email are the favored methods of communication. “This demographic looks to the technology to provide the solutions,” he says.
Older workers sometimes desire a different communication style. Over-the-road truckers, for example, continually receive information regarding the best, most economical routing and fueling options via their vehicle’s mobile-comm system. These veteran drivers, however, may prefer the routes and services they’ve discovered throughout the years, as opposed to the data from route optimization software. Rather than engaging in push back, Kelley advocates helping old-school employees adapt to transportation management’s evolving technology while still respecting personal preference, if possible. He explains:
“With longtime drivers, we work with them on routing concerns, using not text or email but voice because that method is what the employee prefers. It’s a generation that wants to talk to people, not computers.”
Listen and Learn – on Both Sides
Unquestionably, the complex integrated solutions available with a few clicks save time and money and, overall, make it simpler and faster to get things done. It’s clear: contemporary employees already understand the basics of working with technology. Nonetheless, Kelley and MVT require all new hires to shadow a senior-level staffer, a learning process that fosters a smooth transition into the corporate culture. He notes that training, adaptability and clear communication are essential in the evolving information space.
“My philosophy is don’t overlook the simple solution,” says Kelley. “If there’s a problem, ask why is this not working; with a request for change, ask what is the goal? Organizations that are open to staff expressing why they need something modified or why something isn’t successful allow employees to grow – and let me determine a better, more effective way of accomplishing things.”
Training is key to new and veteran employee success. TMW customer? Start here.