In-house Driver of the Year competitions, or ‘˜DOTYs’ as they are commonly called, are gaining momentum in South Africa with an increasing number of transport-related operations promoting skills development and corporate citizenship through the positive motivation of their drivers.Engen is one such organisation which this year gave 420 of its drivers the opportunity to compete for a place in the finals of its FormulaE Awards, dedicated to building capacity among its drivers.
The FormulaE Programme has been in existence since 2004 and has proved to be a great success for Engen, promoting talent and proficiency within its Operations Division. The 2010 FormulaE driver competition finals took place in Cape Town during September and saw 24 of Engen’s best drivers competing for top honours and the ‘˜Driver of the Year’ title.
Competition at the finals is tough and the event forms the culmination of a year-long programme during which every aspect of the driver’s daily work is carefully checked and monitored , one slip and they are out of the running. Finalists are subjected to a six-step obstacle course, fire drill, a comprehensive theoretical examination, a simulated delivery, a pre-trip inspection and a physical road test where fuel efficiency is measured by a fuel-flow meter.
According to Engen ‘˜bulk truck operator’ (BTO) instructor, Sewcoomar Girdharie: “The 24 drivers who made it to the finals have all achieved a top score rating of 95 – 100% on their monthly performance score cards. How many of us manage to get even close to that? This is a stunning achievement in anyone’s books. These drivers have performed exceptionally over the 12 months of evaluation, losing not a drop of product, in no way damaging their trucks or falling foul of traffic regulations. These drivers have been extremely consistent and have ensured strict adherence to their demanding delivery schedules.’
The FormulaE Programme has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of incidents, accidents, spillages and late deliveries, a fact borne out by improved individual driver performance figures and positive feedback from Engen customers, adds Girdharie.
What stood out for FleetWatch at this year’s event was the close and very tangible bond between all levels of the Engen staff. As they gathered on the stands to watch the drivers go through their paces on the obstacle course, it was impossible to tell who was a driver, a supervisor or manager. Everyone, from the judges and the score keepers at the event, to workshop and depot managers, fleet advisors, schedulers, driver trainers, personnel with links to the drivers and the distribution of the company’s products say, as if with one voice, “all of these drivers are winners already!’
They cheered and applauded together as the contestants succeeded in overcoming a particular challenge and groaned as one in the event of failure. This camaraderie, it seems, is endemic throughout the organisation with employees regarding themselves as part of a greater ‘˜Engen Family.’
“Management has gone to great lengths to instil a sense of pride and professionalism among the drivers who understand while they are perhaps the most critical ingredient in the distribution chain, they are also part of a team and must perform accordingly,’ says Girdharie.
For the winner of the articulated truck category, Eugene Everts, victory is sweet indeed: “It’s all been a very nice rush. When I left home to come here for the competition, my father who is a retired Engen BTO, said to me, ‘˜you know what to do , just bring the trophy home.’ And so he did!