A Swift Guide to Better Coaching

Changing Driver Behavior, Featured
Jun 12/2017 Published by:

The Shortcut: 
Victor Malchesky of Swift Transportation lays out five guidelines for effective driver coaching, and some of them may surprise you.
When Victor Malchesky isn’t racing cars or riding across the country on his motorcycle, he helps steer over 20,000 drivers to be safer each day as the director of safety and compliance at Swift Transportation, the largest full-truckload motor carrier in North America.
With more than 400 coaches at Swift, Malchesky could have taken an automated approach to driver coaching. Instead, they built Swift’s driver coaching guidelines around one of the most basic human interactions—a conversation.

At the 5th Annual Lytx User Group Conference in March, Malchesky discussed the Swift coaching method and its key components.

The Swift coaching method, he said, is built on two principles—transparency and respect. For full transparency, Malchesky said his company goes to great lengths to explain the rationale behind all its safety policies, along with the consequences of not adhering to those policies. Swift drivers also are given full access to DriveCam videos of their own driving events and encouraged to review them. 

As for respect, “it’s personal for the drivers,” Malchesky said. “We owe it to our drivers and the motoring community to have meaningful conversations with them to help fine-tune their driving—gently and professionally.” 
Here’s how Malchesky laid out five of the company’s guidelines for its 400 driver coaches: 

  1. Show drivers you care. Frame coaching discussions in terms of how much you care about their safety. Remind drivers that you don’t want anything bad to happen to them and others around them.
  2. Be specific. Train around specific behaviors that can be improved. A single video can help focus the conversation and keep the conversation from getting sidetracked.
  3.  Have a conversation. Treat drivers as professionals and give them actionable takeaways, specific things they can do to improve. Don’t turn the conversation into a “beat-up session.” (For managers who dread having difficult conversations with their drivers, read our next article, “A Practical Guide to Difficult Conversations: How to Coach Through Conflict.”)
  4.  Get a commitment to change. Allow your drivers to say they want to improve and to agree with the adjustments you are recommending. 
  5. Add positive feedback. Acknowledge drivers when they do the right thing and reinforce that behavior with praise.

Coaching sessions don’t have to be lengthy to be effective, either. Another speaker on the same panel with Malchesky described how to get results in a three-minute driver coaching session:

  1. Review the behavior. Watch the DriveCam video and ask the driver to point out what they’re seeing. With video, coaches are able to cut to the chase about what actually happened, saving time.
  2. Communicate expectation. Review what steps should have been done.
  3.  Commit to improvement. Similar to the Swift coaching guidelines, this approach calls for the driver to commit to making specific changes and the coach to work with the driver toward safer driving.

Finally, gaining the trust of the driver is crucial to getting their buy-in and commitment to improve, panelists agreed. “During the review, make sure coaches address only the safety concerns,” one speaker said. “Avoid personal intrusions by ignoring their dress, their appearance or the music they’re listening to. That’s a big thing. That’s how you gain their trust.”

# # #

Related Tags

Thanks for subscribing to our blog!

You’ll be kept apprised of issues and information that can have an impact on your fleet. 

Related Blog Posts

Sep 24 / 2015Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Changing Habits by Retraining Muscle Memory

Gretchen Griswold

Aug 20 / 2015Changing Driver Behavior

What Professional Drivers Learn From Their Coaches

Greg Lund

Jul 24 / 2015Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Big Data, Better Drivers

Greg Lund

Feb 25 / 2015Changing Driver Behavior

Why Cheaper Gas Prices Could Put Your Safety At Risk

Greg Lund

Nov 03 / 2014Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Adjusting to Standard Time

Del Lisk

Sep 05 / 2014Changing Driver Behavior

Distracted Driving Forecast: Sunny with a chance of collision?

Del Lisk

Nov 02 / 2013Changing Driver Behavior

Lytx: The Power of Data Blog

Julie Cunningham

Apr 04 / 2013Changing Driver Behavior

Video Telematics: Seeing is Believing

Del Lisk

Aug 13 / 2012Changing Driver Behavior

What Will Really Deter People From Engaging in Distracted Driving?

Dr. Jeffrey Hickman

Jul 25 / 2012Changing Driver Behavior

There are No Short-Term Initiatives … that Work!

Del Lisk

Dec 22 / 2010Changing Driver Behavior

Looking Farther Down the Road

Del Lisk

Nov 23 / 2010Changing Driver Behavior

One Simple Step to Reducing Truck Crashes

Del Lisk

Oct 24 / 2010Changing Driver Behavior

Blind Trust

Del Lisk

Jan 03 / 2011Changing Driver Behavior

Fleet Safety: Danger in the Parking Lot

Del Lisk

Sep 09 / 2012Changing Driver Behavior

Thank a Truck Driver (or two)

Eric Cohen

Feb 28 / 2011Changing Driver Behavior

The Dangers of an Open Lane

Del Lisk

Feb 01 / 2011Changing Driver Behavior

Make Driving a Game

Del Lisk

Oct 10 / 2011Changing Driver Behavior

Safety Culture: What is it and How does it Affect Fleet Safety?

Global Administrator

May 23 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Retraining to Retain Your Drivers

Gretchen Griswold

May 25 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Taking the Risk Out of One of the Riskiest Professions

Gretchen Griswold

Jun 01 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

From 190 to 1 in a Blink of an Eye: Managing the Heinrich’s Pyramid Challenge

Gretchen Griswold

Jun 03 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Not All Distractions Are Created Equal: Why Even Hands-Free Can Lead to Collisions

Gretchen Griswold

Mar 22 / 2017Choosing the Right Program, Featured

From the Front Lines: Turning Data into Insight

Staff Writer

Mar 24 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Part 2: Using DriveCam® Event Data to Drive More Effective Coaching

Staff Writer

Mar 28 / 2017Featured

Part 3: Getting Drivers and Managers to Buy into Analytics

Staff Writer

Apr 14 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Autonomous Vehicle Essentials You Need to Know Part One: Levels of Automation

Staff Writer

Apr 18 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Autonomous Vehicle Essentials You Need to Know Part Two: Impact on Drivers, Fleets and the Industry

Staff Writer

May 30 / 2017Featured

A Safety Manager Uses Math to Look Under the Surface

Staff Writer

Feb 01 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Effective Video Review: Better Coaching

Theresa Mills

Jun 26 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

How ‘Cultural Novocain’ is Numbing Outrage to Traffic Fatalities

Gretchen Griswold

Mar 09 / 2012Changing Driver Behavior

Is Distracted Driving Getting Better or Are We Getting Better at Hiding our Distractions?

Dr. Jeffrey Hickman

Jan 26 / 2012Changing Driver Behavior

Fleet Safety: Following Too Closely

Del Lisk

Nov 29 / 2011Changing Driver Behavior


Michael Richter

Mar 15 / 2011Changing Driver Behavior

Fleet Safety: The Most Common Risky Driving Behaviors

Del Lisk

Sep 15 / 2014Changing Driver Behavior

Driver Appreciation Week

Julie Cunningham

Sep 03 / 2015Changing Driver Behavior

Risk is a Consequential Matter

Greg Lund

Sep 01 / 2015Changing Driver Behavior

Innovation as a Business Focus

Greg Lund

Jun 15 / 2016Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

How Gamification Might Help Drivers Optimize Driving and Vehicle Performance

Gretchen Griswold

Jun 23 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Who – or What -- Does the Heavy Lifting to Improve CSA Scores?

Gretchen Griswold

Jul 07 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Top Three Things Fleet Managers Can Do to Proactively Manage Their Safety Program

Gretchen Griswold

Jul 08 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Meet Janelle: The Cone Destroyer

Gretchen Griswold

Jul 27 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Using Data to Prioritize Your Fleet’s Safety Issues

Gretchen Griswold

Jul 29 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Driving for the Limits of Automated Technology

Brandon Nixon

Sep 26 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Fleet Safety: The Dangers Lurking Inside Your Fleet

Theresa Mills

Oct 19 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Hallmark of a Successful Video-based Safety Program

Gretchen Griswold

Oct 28 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

What You Might Not Know About the ELD Mandate

Theresa Mills

Nov 01 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Fleet Safety: Putting a Stop to Rolling Stops

Theresa Mills

Nov 09 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Three Types of Distracted Driving – and How to Solve Them – Part 1: Manual Distractions

Theresa Mills

Nov 15 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

The Three Types of Distracted Driving – and How to Solve Them – Part 2: Visual Distractions

Theresa Mills

Aug 18 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

DOT Regulations: From the Same Government Who Brought You the Tax Code

Gretchen Griswold

Aug 24 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Why Unsafe Drivers Are Often the Biggest Fuel Offenders

Theresa Mills

Sep 08 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Hours of Service, Driver Behavior and the ELD Mandate: American Central Transport’s Story

Gretchen Griswold

Nov 23 / 2016Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Distracted Driving Behaviors – and How to Solve Them – Part 3 Cognitive Distractions

Theresa Mills

Dec 06 / 2016Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Making a Case for Video Part 1: The Value of Video in Litigation

Theresa Mills

Dec 16 / 2016Choosing the Right Program, Featured

Making a Case for Video Part 2: Exoneration From The Driver’s Seat

Theresa Mills

Dec 22 / 2016Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

Making a Case for Video Part 3: The Company and the Courtroom

Theresa Mills

Jan 10 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

Three Things That Put Teeth in Your Safety Policy

Gretchen Griswold

Feb 28 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Featured

High-Efficiency Driving: Five Driver Behaviors that Reduce Cost

Staff Writer

Mar 02 / 2017Capitalizing on Your Investment, Featured

What’s a Safety Halo? And Can it Help Build Your Brand?

Staff Writer