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The Safety Lead...

The primary goal for any manager is the successful accomplishment of the mission. Within Business Aviation, this means the successful completion of flights to the intended destinations without incident. As to exactly “how” a flight department will achieve that result depends upon its manager.

AvBuyer   |   1st January 2014
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The AvBuyer editorial team includes Matt Harris and Sean O'Farrell who contribute to a...
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The Safety Lead...
The Best Safety Device is a Good Manager.


The primary goal for any manager is the successful accomplishment of the mission. Within Business Aviation, this means the successful completion of flights to the intended destinations without incident. As to exactly “how” a flight department will achieve that result depends upon its manager.

You have heard the adage “it starts at the top” – which means for any organization, its overall approach towards commitment, diligence, attitude and morale is set by the attitude, style and traits of its leader. Flights should be completed safely. Safety is managed by recognizing hazards to your operations and mitigating any possible consequences to the lowest acceptable level.


LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Thus, a good manager will genuinely want to seek out and recognize hazards. To do that, he or she will empower employees to report, without fear of reprisal, anything that has gone wrong, and will provide the tools to foster vigilance in situations that may have the possibility of going wrong. The manager will encourage everyone’s participation, starting with his or her own behavior.

The not-so-good manager will either not have a hazard-reporting process in place, or will have established one in name only with no intent to use it. The uncommitted manager may have purchased an online safety system but does not bother to understand how to use it, does not encourage others to participate, or lets only the safety officer be involved. Worse still, the not-so-good manager ridicules, discourages or disciplines those who submit reports, choosing instead to express frustration and annoyance by the need to process reported action.

To mitigate hazards the good manager will establish processes and standards for operational situations and for managing safety. He or she will engage employees to develop (in writing) and implement an operations manual, standard operating procedures (SOP) and a safety management system (SMS).

The flight department head will have everyone trained to perform to the established standards. Employees will be motivated to perform to the best of their abilities. The insightful manager will ensure that the standards are being followed. Hazards will be acknowledged and reported, and plans will either be modified as needed or a mediation plan will be initiated to eliminate or minimize the risks.


CASUAL MANAGEMENT IS RISKY

The not-so-good manager does not have an operations manual, SOPs or an SMS. He or she thinks it is OK for everyone to follow the FARs their own way. The casual manager may have an ops manual that hasn’t been updated in years and is rarely used. A marginal manager writes procedures with no input from other members of the flight department team.

Required training for the aircraft probably happens, but other training is set aside to be accomplished only when the schedule allows – which never seems to happen. He or she ignores (or is afraid to deal with) someone not performing to standards, electing instead to be oblivious to employee grumblings and poor morale.

The good manager actively seeks ways to improve departmental performance by seeking and listening to employee suggestions. Participation in industry peer groups is encouraged, starting with the manager’s personal involvement. He or she has the flight department audited by an outside expert, and is open to change and improvement.

Effective managers want to know things that may be unknown or not obvious. They are not embarrassed by suggestions or adverse to criticism. Confident and effective managers have an appropriate amount of humility and vulnerability. They accept their imperfection and their ever-present need to learn, and they always try their best. The good manager creates an environment where the flight department team strives to be the best and safest group possible.

The not-so-good manager believes everything has been analyzed and covered. Team members often hear “why change, we’ve never had a problem before”. Risky managers condone an atmosphere of complacency, where the excuses for minimal examination and no constructive change range from “Too much effort will be required” to “We are too busy”. Perhaps the manager is fearful that employee participation or input from an outside auditor would disclose issues that might result in a change of personnel. When challenged, the no-so-good manager argues why he or she is right and does not listen to ideas for improvement, or listens but then does nothing about it.

The preceding paragraphs should have sent a clear message across: The actions of a good manager lead to less risk, which leads to a safer operation. Follow their example for your flight department.

Read more about: Safety

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