Five Stages of Effective Coaching

Mark Schedler, Sr. Editor - Transport

June 12, 2022

 Two people talking

Carriers must transition from reacting to motor vehicle record (MVR) violations and crashes to proactive behavior correction to reduce the potential for damaging litigation. Carriers can benefit from a system that monitors and prioritizes the riskiest compliance and behavior data.


After identifying the coachable events, the key is getting drivers to take accountability for positive change. Five stages of an effective coaching session are:

1. Scheduling

  • Coach promptly per the company standard. Coach the most severe events within 24 to 48 hours of the event and recognize positive behaviors with equal enthusiasm and timeliness.

  • Verify that a private area will be available and that the driver will be rested and receptive. An observer may be appropriate if the situation warrants it.

2. Preparing

  • Focus on the facts, avoid emotions, and don't make assumptions.

  • Think through the conversation — write down key points and questions to prevent putting the driver on the defensive.

3. Building Rapport

  • Positively greet the driver. Please treat them with respect and gratitude during the session.

  • Ask the driver how their day or week is going or how their family is doing, if appropriate.

  • Recognize positive safety history when appropriate.

4. Coaching

  • Ask the driver whether other factors aren't evident from the facts or video.

  • Ask the driver how they would correct the root cause or how you or the company can help them.

  • If this is a repeat or more severe incident, formal training or disciplinary consequences may be necessary.

  • Cover any points the driver missed and note positive behavior and areas that need improvement.

  • Explain the risk of continuing unsafe or non-compliant behavior.

  • Recap the issue in a simple statement to check for agreement.

  • Be consistent with remedial or disciplinary actions as outlined in the company's policies.

  • If the driver deflects the conversation or reacts defensively, respectfully guide them back to the reason for the session.

  • Document the root cause and next steps. Suppose the session involved recognition, document that as well.

5. Gaining Commitment

  • Get a commitment from the driver to correct unsafe behaviors and engage in safe behavior in the future, not just agree to complete the follow-up actions.

  • If the driver doesn't take accountability, understand the barriers.

  • End the session on a positive note by thanking the driver and letting the driver know that you are available any time and that they are a valuable member of the safety team.


In summary, coaching sessions must be timely, conducted respectfully, and provide a safe environment for the driver to share their feedback. Equally important is how coaches prepare for sessions to gain commitment to behavior change.


Understand what MVRs are and why checking them more frequently can reduce your risk.

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