A company’s culture can show itself in unique ways. At some companies, you’ll see it in how people talk, or dress, or start a meeting. If you ever visit a UPS facility, even our corporate headquarters, the first place you’ll get a glimpse of the culture is out in the parking lot.
When you first drive in, something may seem a little off. At first, you can’t quite figure out what it is. And then…. It hits you. Look closely at the picture above. Do you see it?
That’s right – many of the cars are backed – not nosed – into the spaces. Why? It’s a cultural thing.
Safety, and safe driving in particular, is a big part of the culture at UPS. At UPS, safety is honored, encouraged, trained, and ingrained in many different ways. We have our 10-point commentary checklist, our 340 methods, and our Circle of Honor for people with 25+ safe driving years. Integrad driver training school, telematics technology, and on and on.
But back to backing in. At parking lots of UPS facilities around the world, you’ll see the personal vehicles of many UPSers backed into their spaces. Go inside a center (really early in the morning), and you’ll see all the trucks (we call them package cars) tightly and precisely backed into their spaces to receive their packages for the day.
If the day goes well, that’s all the backing those package cars will need to do. As a rule, “backing” is strongly discouraged for our drivers, unless they’re pulling into a loading dock. Why? Because driving forward is just safer. You can see where you’re headed, and better adjust. So our drivers are taught to avoid backing as much as possible.
But when you need to back, there’s a method, and a saying: “back first so you don’t back last”. Meaning that it’s safer to back into the controlled environment of an empty parking space than it is to back out into the less controlled environment of a parking lot. So our people are taught to roll past the space (so they can look in and make sure there are no hazards – people, shopping carts, kids toys, animals), then back cleanly into the space (UPS trucks will honk when backing). And when you return to your car, to take a look around your vehicle (to make sure there are no new hazards), and then to pull out slowly, looking both ways. Since you’re already facing out, it makes for a smooth, and safer, getaway.
Strong cultures have a lot in common with successful safety programs. They become extensions of who you are and what you do irrespective of what the rules or the policies say you should do. For a safety program to succeed, it has to be lived, has to become a habit, just part of who you are. Every nose out car in our parking lot is a reminder of that.
Does your company have a distinct culture? Tell us what distinguishes it in the comments below.