Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Four Common Reasons Safety Managers Fail

Reasons Aviation Safety Managers Fail

For many aviation safety managers the safety manager responsibilities do not fall among their core competencies. In fact, many pilots (mechanics, airport managers, etc) come to work one day and learn they have been given the title, "Safety Manager." No extra pay or glory. Just another "expected" duty, reminiscent of my days in the military as a special duty officer.

If you suddenly have become saddled with the gargantuan tasks associated with being an aviation safety manager, you are going to learn that there is more to this job than most of your managers believe. Many first time safety managers fail. Being in close contact with hundreds of safety managers over the past six years, we've picked up a few pointers that may help you in your job as the airline or airport's safety manager.

Why Safety Managers Fail?

Lack of Aviation Safety Management System (SMS) Training

If you are a first-time aviation safety manager, it is up to you to learn what is required in an aviation safety management system. If possible, get some SMS training from a reputable company, such as:
aviation safety managers fail for a variety of reasons. SMS Training, poor communiation
Another option to learn SMS requirements is to purchase an aviation SMS software program that will teach you about aviation SMS programs as you setup the airline or airport's SMS program, such as SMS Pro. One of the biggest mistakes a first-time safety manager can make is not seeking out good training and skill building opportunities.

Poor Communication Skills

Safety managers need to clearly articulate the aviation SMS requirements to the rest of the airline or airport personnel. Furthermore, they must develop and maintain excellent working relations with managers at all levels. Safety managers must be "change managers."  In order to reduce barriers to change, safety managers must understand and practice the psychological components required in moving an organization along the path to a successful SMS implementation.

Safety managers who have excellent communication skills will have an easier time implementing change. For safety managers lacking these skills, one recommendation is to read, "Winning Friend and Influencing People," by Dale Carnegie.

Keeping managers and staff informed regularly is also an important communication skill. When everyone knows what is going on and what is expected, there will be less resistance to change.

Ensure that top management is briefed on a regular basis and that they are aware of any extra resources and trraining you may require to implement your SMS. Remember, top management won't help if they don't know you need help.

Failure to Build Trust With Managers

Politics play an incredible important role while implementing an SMS program. Some airlines and airports have "safety champions" and "safety managers." Safety champions are those selected to inspire and lead the airline and airport to success. Safety managers possess the training and expertise to train others and perform the daily risk management activities of the airline or airport.

Managers are often very busy people. Their plates are already full. When safety managers appear to give other managers "more work" that adds not immediate, noticeable effect, you can naturally expect resistance. Managers are busy. Successful safety managers have to discover ways to get and keep the department heads playing on the same team.

Failure to Champion SMS Program as "The Boss' SMS Program"

Occasionally, employees at an airline or airport see the SMS program as being the province of the safety manager. In all reality, the safety program belongs to the accountable executive. Whenever possible, the safety manager will benefit by portraying to others that his job is to implement the "boss' SMS program." There is usually less resistance and animosity toward the safety manager when he is perceived as "doing his job at the direction of the boss."

About NWDS - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. In 2007, NWDS developed SMS Pro™ a web based SMS application that supports an organization's overall SMS through safety reporting, safety documentation, safety risk management and safety assurance. SMS Pro™ is currently used by aviation organizations in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East to help manage their SMS programs. NWDS continues to support SMS Pro™ and add new functionality. NWDS offers custom contract programming services in the U.S. and Canada and is managed by Chris Howell, one of the founders. Their headquarters is in Anchorage, Alaska. For information on NWDS visit their website at www.nwds-ak.com and www.asms-pro.com to learn more about SMS Pro™.

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