Years ago a “management expert” told a group of manufacturing executives that newly hired employees should immediately get to work. “If their job is to tighten 10,000 screws a day, then they should get to it, without a second to lose,” advised the guru. This advice is, of course, very backwards. We all want to know the meaning behind our work; and, happily, there is meaning behind every type of work.
Indeed, it is extremely important to take that same employee that the “management expert” was talking about, whose job it is to tighten 10,000 screws a day, and walk him through the entire manufacturing line. Show him how his job relates to other jobs, and explain why his piece of the puzzle is so important to building a product or delivering a service. Show him not only the end product, but the parts his screws hold together. This will provide meaning to the employee and therefore motivation; it will also instill a sense of pride and responsibility in the person.
Aviation is a nonstop, fast paced business, but still, we all want to feel like we do meaningful work. The good news is that anyone who works in aviation is making a difference, probably in ways they have not even thought about. For example, consider line service employees. Line service employees do many things, including towing and fueling aircraft. But what do they really do and why is it meaningful? Without line services, airplanes could not get to where they are going; and the tarmac would be in complete chaos. Business people rely on smooth running airports so that they can conduct the activities that keep our economy humming. Some people are traveling for personal reasons: to see a friend, to meet a loved one, or to attend a funeral. Perhaps not every line service employee thinks this deeply about the service they provide, but there are many that do. And those that do are the most customer service oriented employees and the best team members the airport has.
The line service example simply demonstrates a wider principle: every task, every job within aviation is valuable and meaningful. We all enable the safe movement of people from one place to another, all of whom have some very important reasons for seeking our services. Remember: Those who reflect on the meaning of what they do deliver excellent customer service, create a spirit of teamwork in their organizations, and serve as great motivational examples to everyone they come into contact with.