5 Ways to Increase Employee Engagement in Business Aviation

Author By Jill Henning

In a recent article, we reported on a rather alarming study done by the Gallup Organization, which found that only 29 percent of employees in the U.S. today are "motivated and engaged."

The other 71 percent are at some level of "disengagement." If that was the eight-cylinder engine in your car, you'd be firing on only two cylinders. Not much power and certainly not much performance! This metaphor applies directly to your aviation organization as well.

The question is: Where does your business aviation organization stand? Is everyone on your team part of the 29 percent of the U.S.workforce that is engaged and motivated, or are they somewhere in the 71 percent disengaged category?

To meet the demands and expectations placed upon business aviation today, you certainly must be hitting on more than two cylinders. You need an organization full of employees who are performing at their highest levels.

Creating the Environment

First, let's be clear. You cannot make anyone be motivated and engaged. That's a personal decision, and it's up to everyone to make his or her own choice.

But as an aviation leader, you can create an environment conducive to motivation and engagement by helping your employees link their passions and interests with the goals and objectives of the organization. Regardless of demographics or generational influence, by doing so, you can help foster a more engaged workforce.

Five Ways to Increase Employee Engagement

Here's what your employees are asking for and what you can do to increase motivation and engagement within your business aviation organization:

1.  Provide me with Purpose

Everyone longs to be connected with a larger-than-life purpose, to be part of an epic mission, a bold vision that inspires and helps them see their contributions as important and essential. "Are you hauling a bag of rocks or building a cathedral?" Stephen Covey asks in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Establishing a bold vision is vital for engagement. Actualizing the vision requires translating it into activities that affect all levels of the organization. No leader does it alone and no organization achieves excellence without everyone engaged and focused on the same goals.

2.  Provide me with Clarity

As a business aviation leader, you owe each and every employee a clear statement of expectation regarding his or her responsibilities and accountabilities. This is done through accurate and actionable role descriptions, written in straightforward aviation terminology. The old 'job' descriptions of the past listed only basic responsibilities and were written in language that aviation professionals did not understand. They became obsolete faster than ever as technology unfolded. The workplace of today requires a review and reinvention of roles, responsibilities and relationships. The longer we hold onto the old notion of a 'job,' the longer it takes to adapt and evolve into the new roles required in today's workplace. You can help employees find their area of best 'fit' (through tools such as The Birkman Method) which allows them to see themselves in new ways and highlight opportunities they might have overlooked.

3.    Empower Me

Once you define what your employees are responsible for, you need to let them truly run with it and 'own'it, even if they occasionally stumble and fall. "The more complex and elusive our problems are, the more effective trial and error becomes," says Tim Harford in his new book, Why Success Always Starts with Failure. Our world is inconstant change; the best way to adapt is to experiment and try new approaches,without fear of taking reasonable risks. Aviation requires a dedication to safety at all times, but we sometimes categorize all risk as catastrophic and, as a result, are slow to change and adapt.

4.  Connect with Me

Spend quality time with your people and know each of them as individuals. Know their challenges, abilities and their whole selves. We no longer leave our personal life at the door, as we are now connected to work and life 24/7 through technology and social media. We are in touch with family during the day and we answer work-related emails at night, yet with all of this technological connectedness, we have become disconnected in personal and meaningful ways. Instead of a real water cooler and coffee break room, we have virtual meetings and online chats. Nothing replaces one-on-one dialogue and conversation, so make sure you find the time to have it.

5.  Develop Me

Help your people identify aspirations and career opportunities and help them turn them into actionable Individual Development Plans (IDPs).

Help them achieve their career goals in alignment with the growth and direction of the organization.

Long gone are the days of well-defined "career tracks" inside of companies. Those promises of promotion and permanence often turned into career dead ends because they were mostly relationship-based. The "career ladder" is now competency-based, and development opportunities are identified through a lattice of connections and networks that require guidance and sponsorship. Help your people navigate them successfully.

What Approaches Have You Used?

We've provided some straightforward ways that you as a leader can use to increase employee engagement and overall performance within your business aviation organization. They may sound easy, but, in reality, each requires a significant level of focus on your part as a leader. We're sure you have employed some methods of your own as well. We'd like to know what they are, and we invite you to share them with us.

We look forward to hearing from you!