GRAY STONE ADVISORS' BLOG

Aviation Organizational Transformation Keys 5-7

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In preceding blogs within our 10 keys series on the art and science of survival change, we talked about the first four steps—or keys—to effect successful aviation transformation.

Aviation Organizational TransformationThis month, let’s delve into Keys 5 thru 7, which will help you, the change agent, empower your team members, identify the right corporate business partners and celebrate some big wins. So let’s get started.

 

By Jim Lara

 

Key 5: Empowerment & Engagement

Is everyone “in?”

When it comes to effecting the transformation of an aviation organization (i.e.,major change), are your leaders plugged in and committed—or are they merely bystanders? If they fall into that latter category, then they’re doing your organization no good.

Here’s how you can fix that scenario.

First, you’ve got to make the situation personal for everyone in your organization. When you’re evaluating your team, the key question that you have to continue to ask is: “Are they an ‘owner’ or are they a disengaged ‘employee’?”

By which I mean, are they just in for eight hours a day, five days a week, or are they in it for real? Do you have them for as long as there’s a paycheck with their name on it, or are they completely invested—with their hearts and minds—in your organization?

Because when you’re engaged in transformational change, it’s not “operational status quo.”

It’s a very different playing field, and one of the first prerequisites is that you must have everyone’s complete commitment. They’ve got to be “all in,” and be able to answer the question: “Is this somebody’s else’s organization or is it MY organization?”

In business aviation, we’ve got a tremendously unfair advantage—from an employment and leadership perspective, that is. There are so many jobs in the world where people go to work for eight hours a day, but thinking about what they’re going to do when they get off work. They’re also thinking about their retirement and hoping they can last that long.

But in aviation, a lot of us have been thinking about what we were going to do since we were five years old.

Aviation is our passion, our life.

How many people in the world get to follow their passion? Very, very few.

So from a leadership perspective, we ought to have this down. This ought to be easy.

 

Bias for Action

People in aviation are smart. So give them the freedom to create. Just be sure that they’re creating in alignment with where the organization is going. Trust me, they will come up with revolutionary, transformative ideas that, frankly, you’ve never thought of.

But they’ve got to start now. This is about acting today, and then being on top of what follows tomorrow and on the next day. There’s no time to wait.

You’ve got to indulge a bias for action: “If not me, who? And if not now, when?

That’s the question you’ve got to ask over and over again. When you’re making an impact, you’re going to find that your leaders are following suit and asking that of their own people. Your standards captain is going to be asking that of the most junior first officer, for example.

Remember: “If not me, who? And if not now, when?” You’ve got to get people moving!

I like to use an engineering technique called “interval scheduling.” If something should, for all intents and purposes, take a week to get accomplished, give it a day and a half. If something should take all day, give it 90 minutes. You’ll be shocked at how much can get done in a constrained period of time.

Because things are getting done, and because people are taking the reins to get them done, you will see the momentum start to build in your organization. People seeing other people accomplish things can be an extremely motivating force. It’s tremendously addictive.

 

Key 6: Inclusion

Let’s talk about “inclusiveness.”

The aviation facility is not an island, so it’s important that your team be plugged in at the corporate level. I would submit to you that you need business partners at corporate to be on your leadership team, and if you’re flying for a family office, you need business partners there as well.

If you’re finding that you don’t yet have them, try focusing in on one or more of these four individuals and their roles:

  1. HR Business Partner
  2. Finance Business Partner
  3. IT Business Partner
  4. Security Business Partner

Next, in terms of inclusion, re-emphasize the Vision that you defined in Key #1. Bring each of these business partners onto your leadership team, but ensure that they embrace the Vision, Mission and Values that you and your team have defined earlier.

When the ball starts rolling and you start winning, you’ll begin to hear personal stories of achievement and success. Broadcast these “testimonials.” They’ll inspire others.

But now, you’re going to want to build on what’s already occurred and share metrics about how effective the transformational change process is.

And the most effective measurement that I’ve ever seen used —even if it’s largely unquantifiable—is the measure gauging the level of laughter and number of smiles in the workplace. If you’ve got smiles and laughter occurring on a regular basis, you’re starting to win.

That’s because “fun” is an essential component of transformational change.

If it’s all drudgery, “four yards in a cloud of dust” and nobody is having any fun, you’re never going to get there. Transformational change has got to be fun.

But remember: when things are starting to change, “sell the sizzle” with peer-to-peer encouragement.

Your job now is to start the magic happening and let your people create their own future.

 

Key #7:  Consistency

Okay, if you’ve followed the lead in keys 5 and 6, you’re on a roll. But now you’ve got to maintain that high level of achievement. And you keep it there with consistent execution every single day. It’s the basics. This approach produces consistent successes. And, it generates lots of smiles for you, your team and from the executive travelers on the aircraft.

 

Aviation Rebranding: It’s a New Day

When all of that starts to happen, the “positive buzz” will get to your senior leaders at corporate or the family office.

You might hear the executives say: “What’s happening with the aircraft? Do we call it a hangar or a garage?”

Neither. We call it a business aviation facility.

It’s time to transform your organization’s image. Instead of referring to “the hangar, it’s time to use new terminology to create a fresh sense of your operation and what it is and what it does.

You’re an aviation facility.

Soon, you’ll see that the successes just keep happening because your organization is on a roll!

But don’t forget to celebrate the wins. Spread praise throughout the entire organization. Don’t take any credit yourself. The credit goes to those who are executing every single day.

Make your progress visual—and visible—by creating large posters and banners in the hangar.

These visuals will track your team’s progress, with current information posted in each functional area. If you’ve got 50 tasks, put them on the wall, on a big poster, with individual owner’s names assigned to each task.

Use color coding to show red for what’s not yet started, yellow for things that are in progress and green for those that have been completed. Then watch all of those reds tasks turn to green!

And, finally, reward your team and individual staff for their accomplishments. This kind of organization-wide recognition can do wonders for your efforts to effect real transformational change; and besides, it’s the absolute right thing to do.

 

Next month, we’ll wrap up our 10 Keys series with Keys 8, 9 and 10. So stay tuned!

 

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