Flight Department Safety: How Could Promotion Help?

What has promotion within the Flight Department got to do with aviation safety culture? Promotion of personnel is one of the many ways to foster organizational safety culture, for two key reasons. Mario Pierobon elaborates…

Mario Pierobon  |  26th February 2018
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Mario Pierobon
Mario Pierobon

Mario Pierobon holds a Master’s Degree in Air Transportation Management from City University London,...

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Flight Department Safety Targets

What has promotion within the Flight Department got to do with aviation safety culture? Mario Pierobon explains…

Promotion of personnel within a corporate Flight Department is one of the many ways to foster organizational safety culture, for two key reasons. First, it harnesses the aspirations of staff, thereby improving performance in the workplace. Second, it offers a framework for management to reward employees for noteworthy performance.

Promotion of individuals displaying notable commitment to safety sends a clear signal to the whole workforce, and safety management becomes a strategic corporate function.

When to Promote?

In order to sustain the organizational safety culture, it’s important that managers know when to seize promotion opportunities. Larger organizations and departments with high rates of staff turnover have more positions to fill, thereby providing management with options to reward favourable behaviour. 

Ideally, personnel will be promoted when a post comes vacant due to the previous holder retiring or leaving the company, or when the business grows to a point that a new role is created. 

Who to Promote?

With the aim of ever-strengthening the organizational safety culture, it’s important that the right people become the recipients of the opportunities that do arise. 

Work-related merits leading to a promotion will, of course, include technical skills and experience accrued over the years.

But commitment to safety is paramount in a corporate flight department, thus promotions should go to those who strive for safety.

Demonstrable commitment to safety include many activities, such as:

  • Coaching junior members of the workforce to instil safe practices
  • Factoring safety considerations into work planning
  • Raising safety issues with colleagues
  • Participating in safety and risk assessment sessions with full engagement
  • Always seeking to identify opportunities for improvement

In short, safety-related efforts should be considered a core part of recurrent employee performance appraisals.

How to Promote?

Once the promotion opportunity arises and the most suitable candidate is identified, the promotion process must be managed to yield the desired outcome. 

Will promoted individuals be empowered to continue displaying their professionalism, and can their safety leadership positively impact the rest of the workforce? Managing the promotion process requires the implementation of three main practices: 

  • Recognition of the new role
  • Resources for the new role
  • Performance management 

More responsibility begets expectations of a better salary, yet resources for a significantly improved salary may not be readily available.

Regardless, it should be clear that employees are promoted and their status improved at the very least by means of a job title that emphasizes their new position and responsibilities, as well as working space that reflects the new status.

If the promotion only consists of new responsibilities and a little extra money while nothing else changes in the daily work arrangements, the risk is that the promotion is no longer visible and the safety leadership role of the promoted individual is jeopardized. 

Effective employee promotion should also make available the resources needed to accomplish the added responsibilities. There should be a new job description with a quantification of the different efforts expected. 

Employee performance should then be managed against the new job description, and the employee should be appraised recurrently against agreed-upon deliverables. All required and anticipated tasks need to be accounted for in performance appraisals. 

Respecting the role and responsibilities of newly promoted personnel sends a strong message that the Flight Department is committed to the professional development of its workforce.

Conversely, a poorly managed promotion within the Flight Department risks alienating valuable members of the workforce, thereby threatening all efforts concerning a proactive safety culture.



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