Team coach Christine Esteingeldoir. Photo: Christine Esteingeldoir

If taxi drivers are given sufficient say in their work, this will improve motivation. So says leadership and team coaching coach Christine Esteingeldoir of the Belgian Querencia, an HR consultancy that she founded in 2004. After a career of almost twenty years in the business world, she knows better than anyone what it’s like to manage, motivate and connect teams. She gives some tips for the taxi sector.

Do you ever take a taxi yourself?

“Yes, if I have to go to the airport or after a restaurant visit. I have positive experiences with it. I have a regular taxi driver who does a great job. It is an independent taxi driver who works on his own.”

What should you pay attention to when you hire a taxi driver?

“Obviously someone’s competencies are very important, but attitude is often even more decisive. Eagerness to learn is a very important factor in knowing if someone will do well. The more eager to learn someone is, the more they will want to know how everything works and the greater the chance of involvement.”

Do you have any tips once a taxi driver has been hired?

“When recruiting, it is important that you check how independently someone can work. Independence is a determining factor in people’s motivation. It is important that people are given the necessary freedom to do their own work, but do not feel left to their own devices. That’s a good balance to find. For people, such as taxi drivers, who often work alone, independence is an important factor. And the more experience someone has, the more freedoms you can give.”

“In addition, it is also a challenge to make those people feel involved with the organization they work for. Many contacts are made by telephone. I would make sure that there are also face-to-face contacts, so at least once or twice a month. So moments where people look at it: how are things going for you? What is going well and what is going less well? How can we support you? It is important that you find a good balance in those conversations between the people-oriented and the needs of the organization. What do you give to your employee, what are their needs and how can you balance that with what the organization needs.”

Night work seems to me to be a point of discussion. How do you handle that?

“Many people don’t want to drive at night: how do you arrange that? In some cases, taxi drivers only want to do the night. In other cases, it is exchanged. Start the conversation and see how the night work can be divided among the drivers. Also talk about how we pass rides on to each other. How does that happen and when? I admit that communication between people is sometimes difficult. There is always friction in the collaboration.”

Why is that participation so important?

“When people get a say, they are more motivated. If they’ve had their say, that’s important. Participation is an important factor in motivation, even if their idea is not implemented. Really listen, consider it and give feedback. And explain why you did or didn’t do it. Make the decisions in groups.”

What motivates the employees then?

“Employees need to feel that they are competent to get the job done: that they can do their job. That they know how the system works and what is expected of it. That the objectives are clear. The same goes for the unwritten rules. Those are the most important things to motivate people, not the salary. Low wages can be demotivating. The real motivation also arises between the connection of people.”

In short, how do you build strong teams and organizations?

“I think you do that with curiosity, result-oriented courage and positive commitment. I believe that strong organizations are made by people who see the benefit in working together from strength and difference. People who, based on their individuality, look for connection and thus strengthen each other and their customers.”

This article previously appeared on sister magazine TaxiPro.be. Read here the entire interview.

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