As a manager in aviation maintenance, you probably followed the typical career path of most of your peers. You started out as a technician, progressed into some type of supervisory or group leader role and then ascended to the position of manager or director. Some of you may have been so lucky as to claim the title of vice president. As a person in a management position, I am willing to go out on a limb by saying that you deal more with people now than you did previously. Regardless of how you got there and to be an effective manager for your organization, it is important to recognize that getting the most out of your people may require different approaches on your part.
A previous Management Matters stated that the required skills of a manager differ from those of a technician. Technicians need physical and analytical skills to work on an aircraft. Technicians have extensive requirements to work with their hands and the various tools that make their jobs easier to perform. Technicians also use analytical skills to identify problems, determine their cause, and fix them.
Managers, on the other hand, will experience a shifting of required skills. They will perform tasks that require very little of the physical skills but will continue to perform tasks that require analytical skills, albeit a different type. Rather than perform troubleshooting skills, the manager might wrestle with how to accomplish a project given a certain level of resources that involve people and material. Replacing the physical skills, the manager must use more interpersonal skills because dealing with people is inherent to the manager's job.
Remember, the four principles of management are planning, organizing, controlling, and directing. When controlling and directing, the manager is dealing primarily with people. In essence, the manager is accomplishing the organization's objectives by working through the efforts of others. Therefore interpersonal skills are, by default, important to the successful manager.
A couple of other points are important for the manager to recognize. First, your organization has a limited amount of resources that it can use to accomplish its objectives. Cash is an example of an organization's limited resources. Unfortunately, cash, as we all know, does not grow on trees. An organization can only obtain cash from its operations or from third-party lending. As a result, the organization must use its cash prudently.
Another example of an organization's limited resources is its people. As we have mentioned in previous articles, people can be one of the organization's most expensive but valuable resources. The second point that managers should recognize is the organization depends upon its managers to use its people efficiently and effectively to help it reach its goals and objectives.
Unlike working with other limited resources in a maintenance organization such as an aircraft, inventory, tools, ground equipment, hangar, and other similar items, working with people is different. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending upon how one views it, each person is unique. A tool, for example, is designed with a specific task in mind and with few exceptions will perform the task over and over again. It's an inanimate object with a clearly defined purpose. People, on the other hand, have factors that make them unique. Genetics, personal experiences, and education (not necessarily formal) are factors that make each person different. Those factors affect each of us as to how we collect, process, and act upon events in our lives.
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