Experts in Front Line Leadership

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Importance of training demonstrated by two pilots

The impact that training and experience can bring to your organization can be dramatic.

Continental Connection Flight 3407 experienced icing conditions and crash landed on February 12th outside Buffalo New York killing 49 people on board and one person on the ground. Captain Marvin Renslow was the pilot of that flight. Captain Renslow had only 110 hours of flight time on that specific model of aircraft and a total of 3,000 hours of flight time in total. Reportedly the crew may have been flying on autopilot in those conditions which was not advised.

US Airways Flight 1549 landed safely on the Hudson River January 15th piloted by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullivan had more than 19,000 flying hours and enough experience that in seconds he was able to decide the best course of action and execute it flawlessly. 155 people were able to walk off that aircraft, something that hasn’t been achieved in 45 years (in terms of a water landing not having fatalities).

How companies can make sure their staff are competent and experienced

Understand What Is Expected: Captain Sully knew the outcome he was looking for. Do your staff understand the importance of looking after customers, reducing costs, and creating new products and services? Most employees only have a vague idea of what is expected. Managers have to repeat themselves many times in order for employees to know clearly what’s expected.

Training: Pilots take weeks of training before being able to fly a new model of aircraft. In my personal private pilot training I had to repeatedly practice what to do in case of emergency, radio failure, and engine failure. Do your staff get the training they need for success? Do you simply put a new employee with an existing employee and hope they learn the proper procedures? It is better to provide detailed training and then check in to make sure the skills are being applied. Perhaps the most shocking deficiency is the training of leaders in how to be effective. If the leader isn’t well trained, how well will the staff be trained?

Feedback: Employees need to hear how they are performing against the expectations. Many employees still do not have an annual performance evaluation or even regular feedback on what they are doing right and what needs to be improved. When there is no feedback or not enough – the manager is assuming the employee is doing things well and the employee assumes everything is okay but in reality the performance might be below what is possible.

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