Daryl Greenlee, deputy director of Monroe County Fleet Management, Fla., learned a lot while in the Marines, and it has shaped his managing style in many positive ways. His “no man left behind” attitude has helped him produce a team that values working together and the success of the whole department above all else.
Creating a Professional Growth Mentality
After serving in the Marines, he says one of the biggest lessons he learned was the importance of helping your teammates grow.
“Without successful people around you, you won't be successful,” he says.
Working together to improve everybody else's skills not only ensures everyone is on the same page, it also helps employees realize their manager is investing time and effort into their professional development. Building a sense of confidence and worth will benefit their self-esteem, but also improve the quality of work they do for customers.
“'Take care of your troops, and your troops will take care of you' is what I was taught in the Marines. It's not too hard to manage assets; the difficulty is managing people. You have to be like a counselor and a mentor. You want people to grow and expand beyond their capabilities.”
This also leads to better succession planning. It’s rare that successors get six months to a year to shadow someone they may be replacing. Therefore, the best way to achieve stability is to promote from within, as they’ve been constantly supported in their fleet education. A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.
Building a Case for What You Need
The biggest challenge Greenlee faces is not being able to implement new ideas, programs, or vehicles as quick as he would like due to the multiple layers of approvals needed.
Greenlee says although this can be frustrating, one must work around agendas and come up with enough evidence that the move you want to make is the one that will make the most sense and do the most good.
When he worked for the city of Orlando, he had a strong fleet facility director with a solid vision of greening the fleet. They did their research and purchased Ford Escape Hybrids in 2009 and Nissan LEAFs in 2010, and then worked with facilities to get the right electrification infrastructure in place.
“By the time I left, I had managed to make their entire solid waste department run on CNG. I also got the police department involved in hybrids. I was managing a lot of vehicles and people, from the fire department to police, refuse, and public works. I was able to convince more people and it was successful.”
One of the drawbacks of green vehicles that tends to scare people off from giving them a try is range anxiety, especially if the vehicles are being operated in locations where natural disasters like hurricanes can shut down power grids.
“Battery technology changes and cruise ranges are getting better, but some people are not going to invest that kind of money in it, so that’s a hurdle you have to figure out how to work around.”
Educating is Everything
Don’t underestimate the value in the certifications. Education can make a lot of difference in so many aspects of managing a fleet.
“When I transitioned into a civilian from the military, I could see younger employees coming in who were really intelligent but missing some of the basic mechanical skills and understanding. It’s vital to educate yourself on the government side of it. Information on insurance, fueling management, procurement…all those pieces will help you develop and build you into a well-rounded individual.”