Personnel Considerations

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Generational Differences Pose a Challenge for Flight Departments

NBAA Webinar Will Offer Expert Guidance on Managing a Cross-Generation Workplace

November 8, 2010

“In today’s world, careers are lengthening, and what we have is unprecedented: four different generations in the workplace at the same time,” said Janet Bressler, president of AOPA Insurance Agency and a member of NBAA’s Corporate Aviation Management Committee (CAMC).

Businesses today are comprised of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials, spanning over six decades. Bressler and other members of NBAA’s CAMC said this presents unique challenges to companies that operate business airplanes, but can provide important benefits to an organization if each generation’s potential can be harnessed.

“Each generation brings different values, different approaches, different expectations to the flight department,” said Sheryl Barden, president and CEO of Aviation Personnel International and also a member of the CAMC. “In order to run safe and effective operations, we are called upon to have a very structured culture in the flight department. In many ways that’s a Baby Boomer culture, so securing the buy-in of younger professionals can be a challenge.”

If team members are not engaged in the culture of a flight department, which includes the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) and crew resource management (CRM), it can create a very real safety hazard, said the CAMC members.

“Especially on the maintenance floor, or in the tight quarters of a cockpit, being able to communicate clearly and follow proper procedures requires professionals of different generations to have a basic understanding of where each other is coming from,” said Bressler.

That understanding begins with an appreciation of the factors that define each generation, according to NBAA’s Jo Damato, director, operations & educational development, including work/life balance, work hour flexibility, use of technology, preferred attire and even language, as it is written, spoken and texted.

“Xers and Millennials tend to be more concerned with quality of life and they tend to need more recognition to keep them engaged, which can be off-putting to managers of earlier generations,” said Barden, “But they bring incredible skills and innovation to the teams they join.”

Bressler and Barden have worked with Damato to offer an NBAA Webinar on November 16 featuring generational educator Lynne Lancaster, co-founder of BridgeWorks, presenting an overview of the four generations and how they differ. Lancaster will help participants manage more effectively by learning how to connect with team members of each generation.

“Generational issues touch every NBAA Member,” said Bressler. “We are facing a looming pilot shortage and maintenance professional shortage across business aviation. We need to look to the next generation to keep this industry alive.”

For more information about the January 20 webinar, titled “What a Difference a Generation Makes,” and to register, visit www.nbaa.org/webinars/generations.