Fostering a culture of caring and empathy
In an industry that is complex and poses high rates of mental health challenges, words truly do matter. Our Corporate Training Manager, Sheldon Wheeler, based out of our Trenton Terminal has seen the impact that caring and being empathetic can have in people’s lives even in the workplace. This is why he tries to lead by example and puts empathy at the fore in everything he does. Sheldon is a husband and a father of five, with his youngest at the age of 18. Growing up with Christian values, he joined The Erb Group of Companies because he saw similar core values in our corporate culture.
In his role, Sheldon interacts with 104 drivers and office personnel at the Trenton Terminal. Not only does he work with the Trenton Terminal employees, but he is also responsible for overseeing the company-wide driver training program. If you have questions about Carriers Edge, LCV’s, partnership schools for our Entry Level Driver Training Program, Sheldon is your go-to guy. He frequently supports our team of Terminal Managers (Driver Services Teams) across our Terminal Network with training advice.
Why words matter
“It creates a positive environment. The more I provide to others it then enables those individuals to pay it forward and keep a more positive outlook. With regards to our drivers, we work with 104 drivers out of Trenton. On a regular basis, it’s important to keep conversations uplifting and provide words of encouragement because it helps them have a better day and provide even better customer service while out on the road. Encouragement itself has a transfer effect, almost like a domino effect.”
Sheldon actively works on embodying our core values of integrity, sustainability, safety, respect, teamwork, and excellence in everything he does. After spending 4.5 years at The Erb Group, Sheldon says “I make it a goal every day. Not much gets me down, and although I can have tough days, I try not to forget the big picture. No one has forced me to do the extra little things, but I actively choose to place high value in encouraging my teams.”
How encouragement is enveloped in our culture
As a family-owned business, we place a lot of value on relationships with our customers and employees. He adds, “I think because we are so people-focused, we can easily spot when someone on our team is having an off day. It’s important to let our team members know that they don’t always have to tell us what’s going on, but that they can talk to us if they want. We also have an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), offering counselling sessions.”
Reflecting on our late-founder’s leadership, he says, “Vernon built this company on caring and empathy. Whenever I have someone call me up and ask for advice, I pose the question, what do you think Vernon would say, or how do you think Vernon would have reacted? What would Wendell expect? Even today, I see Wendell following in these footsteps.”
A few months back, Sheldon spoke with a driver who called Wendell at random. Initially, Sheldon thought it was odd because he was available to chat at any time. The driver said, “I called Wendell Just to introduce myself. I’ve only been here for two to three months, I left him a voicemail and he got back to me very quickly.” That driver was incredibly thankful to hear from our CEO and President. Sheldon continues, “Wendell is as much of a driver as he is a leader in the company. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
Why caring and empathy starts with leaders
“I had a driver come into the office as he had a Lytx DriveCam Event go off. In the footage you could tell the expression on his face was different. I never saw this driver for camera events and have known this driver for several years. Upon meeting him in-person, I could tell something personally was influencing how he was behaving in the truck. He didn’t need to tell me what was going on, but the individual opened up about stress and pressures in his personal life. Without being people-focused, I could have missed this, and the driver would not have received the help he needed. That empathy and caring starts with us.
At the end of the day, Sheldon explains, “When you have people in their happy place, you get them more motivated. Happy people make for a happy company.”