Open a Kent Branch
9th December 2021
Controlling your work diary
13th December 2021

The unconfident driving instructor

We all suffer from bouts of self-doubt where we don’t feel confident in ourselves at certain times. Driving instructors are particularly susceptible to this due to working in isolation for much of the time. This can result in decreased safety and/or pass rates. The BIG TOM Driving School franchise delivers exceptional training for franchisees on the essential subject of confidence. It applies to instructors and the pupils that we all help on a day-to-day basis.


You will be provided with the necessary tools and strategies to raise your self-belief and instructional ability. We believe that if an instructor lacks confidence, they won’t achieve their full potential, which impacts them personally and the pupils they serve.

Here in this blog, you will be given a taster of the type of ways in which we help our franchisees with training that addresses emotional wellbeing and performance.

Most driving instructors will have certain parts of their work that they prefer. The thought of presenting road safety talks to 200 15-year-olds might send you into a cold sweat. Some driving instructors will be unpleased with their pass rates or may feel a little unsure of themselves when talking to peers at the driving test centre. The day to day management of pupils and their parents can be a challenge, organising the timing of the test, even arranging the correct order of the training schedule. The nagging voice in the back of your head will keep on eroding confidence if you do not do something about it. The fact is that confidence empowers action and lack of confidence induces apathy. Sadly, that apathy is where many instructors will find themselves: in an imaginary cage where they feel trapped and powerless to escape. It’s not a nice feeling, it can be unsafe, and here at BIG TOM, we know how important it is to break free from any sense of being useless.

Think of confidence as an inner understanding of your good and bad bits and the stuff you are working on. Because despite what you might see/read/hear from other instructors, a confident instructor is one in which they accept who they are as of this minute, warts and all. These instructors do not feel the need to persuade others how fabulous they are because they know, deep down, we are all flawed; it’s just that many don’t realise it. Instead, these more confident instructors, quietly go about their business, recognising where they are good, trying to improve where they know they are weak.

Confidence comes from within us. You can’t fake it. Look at our pupils who technically drive soundly when they are with us, they appear confident to the untrained eye, but the moment they are exposed to a test environment, we see how confident they really are. In our instructor induction training, we spend some time on this subject. No amount of heaping praise on a pupil is adequate if they do not believe it in themself. The actual value is helping them learn skills to develop their confidence. We will come back to this superficial “value” later – it is very relevant to driving training.

CALL US NOW: 07498 337 629

Confidence is a set of “thought, talk and walk” habits: what we think, how we speak, and our actions/behaviours. What your belief is about an event in the future – whether you can or can’t do something. Fear of failure is crippling. All of us would much rather do nothing, stay as we are, rather than face the prospect of failure head-on. This is what can stop you from enjoying the support of the BIG TOM network. You will prefer to suffer from the pain that you currently endure, even though you know it limits your potential because ultimately, you would prefer to do nothing than change. And how is it limiting you?

You worry about your pass rates and the possibility of a Standards Check
Parents bully you into presenting a pupil to test too early
Pupils are cancelling sessions without any notice at all
You are scared to put up prices too high for losing customers
You never know how to handle a customer complaint
Safety levels are being compromised

These worries invoke anxiety. This is the stuff that stops instructors from sleeping. This is not what emotional wellbeing looks like.

There are many ways this franchise can help you overcome these problems. Our training develops you vertically; strength comes in depth, developing skills that raise your self-awareness. Our training is revolutionary because instead of forcing instructors to regurgitate words/phrases/questions to fulfil Standards Check tick boxes, we focus on emotional wellbeing. It is possible to learn to trust fear, for example, it does serve a meaningful purpose. You go with it rather than avoid it. It can be motivational. You can learn to use it for your personal gain.

Let me give you an example that will mean something to you as a driving instructor: goal setting. We like to use the “GROW model” and set “SMART” goals for our pupils. And it is equally beneficial to us as instructors to have our goals:

“With my pupils that I have planned in for this week, I want 85% + to score their happiness levels at the end of the training session at 7 out of 10 or higher.”

It’s a goal, it’s measurable, it’s realistic and you are measuring it over the coming week across “x” number of pupils. But, it doesn’t have to end there.

In order to actively work on that goal, you will undoubtedly be utilising a whole raft of techniques and behaviours with your pupils. But, you will very likely be incorporating many other behavioural changes even before you arrive at the pick-up point. You may employ a range of actions that help you lift your mood, knowing that will help your goal. These actions could be quite personal and radical and revolutionary; who knows? It might involve meditation, earlier bedtimes, attention to diet, taking care with what you listen to on the radio, avoiding signing into Facebook groups. Like I say, who knows? But if you can appreciate, I mean really appreciate what you are doing, what changes you are implementing, then you are raising your self-awareness. You might be surprised how tiny changes, seemingly trivial, actually contribute significantly to the goal. And the real bonus that I can offer you for reading this far comes in this following fact. As good as it undoubtedly is for your pupils when you achieve your goal for those pupil “happiness” scores, the long-term benefit comes from within you. What you have learnt about you: how your physiology, emotions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours affect outcomes. Now that is powerful. That is revolutionary training that sounds, looks, feels different – and that’s because it is.

BIG TOM Driving Success Programme ©

You can start to see that “value” to you, and your pupils come in different grades or quantities. As driving instructors, we can all go around instantly fixing our pupils driving errors but not so many of us will realise that in doing so, we disempower our pupils. By identifying and immediately sorting a driving mistake for a pupil, we deny them the essential skills to further develop as a safe driver post-test. We rob them of developing problem-solving skills. We completely bulldoze over any self-evaluation. We cancel out any attempt to root cause why the stall just happened or the lack of observations at the junction or the habitual speeding. And with that comes the almost definite lack of confidence within our pupils. We are preventing them from thinking for themselves what they are good at, what they need some work at, and where they currently are in their driving ability. The superficial “sorting” of driving errors when giving driving training has pretty profound consequences for the confidence levels of our pupils. It may go some way to explaining how the national driving test pass rate remains stubbornly at not much more than 50:50.

But when we lose confidence, or perhaps, never had much in the first place, it is not always easy to see the way out. That internal dialogue that all of us have can constantly comment on every minute of our waking day. We have an “expectancy belief” and an “outcome belief”. Some of us will believe that we can’t do something, the desired result will not happen. But the BIG TOM franchise recognises the importance of noticing the inner critic and increasing resilience and mental wellbeing by writing down those thoughts. Hear them, write them down and appreciate the presence of the inner critic. In our training with you, we will show you how you can better use your inner friend – the voice that offers pragmatic advice about situations. We can provide you with practical advice on increasing confidence by some simple techniques to help manage your thoughts.

To summarise, this blog has explored the subject of lack of confidence in driving instructors. This is a particularly tricky problem in our working life as we, in the main, work unsupervised and with little peer support. In many other walks of life, the working day has several interactions with others. Whether it be peers or supervisors, someone can often observe behaviours and offer assistance, but there is not that possibility with driving instructors. And this is why many instructors will feel deeply isolated, alone and anxious. What has been explained in this short blog is how the BIG TOM franchise recognises the “same equals safe” belief of many who are reluctant to change. We know that with every act of bravery, no matter how seemingly trivial it might appear, comes the likelihood of increased confidence and ability that then starts to tackle the challenges we all face. The BIG TOM franchise has been developed over the years to systematically address the known issues that sap the confidence of driving instructors.


All you need to do now is the courageous step of getting in touch and understanding how we can help with your emotional wellbeing.

07498 337 629 (Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm)

P.S. Our training programmes do not compromise on the breadth of training