If you are a new first officer, its obvious that your boss, on any given flight, is the Captain, the pilot in command. Then the day comes that you are on your first trip as a Captain. Yet, you still have a boss. Now it is whoever is sitting in the back of the aircraft, or the person who authorized the trip. You also have another boss, the aviation manager. That individual has a boss, typically the CEO. Even the CEO does not escape having a boss, someone to whom they are responsible. They have many bosses.
A CEO needs to be concerned with the shareholders and their returns. He or she must listen to the Board of Directors, yet communicate effectively with employees. The CEO who cannot inspire employees to further the corporation’s Vision and pursue its Mission will face difficulties in meeting corporate goals. For officials of public corporations, there are regulators who also have oversight. Yes, a corporate CEO has many masters.
Like the CEO, the Aviation Manager also has many bosses, even if the Aviation Department’s sole purpose is to be the CEO’s transportation. At the end of the day, it is the corporation and its shareholders who must be served. It is where they meet that the Aviation Manager can add value.
The Aviation Department must integrate with the corporate structure and understand how it supports external and internal business units within the entire enterprise. While it is tempting to cater to the CEO, the enlightened Aviation Manager focuses on addressing the goals and objectives of the company as a whole. Woe be the Aviation Manager who seeks only the favor of a single executive. A key to longevity of the Aviation Department is how well it is enmeshed into the activity of the corporation.
The Aviation Department benefit the entire corporation at three levels.
- The Shareholder Level: profits, market share, returns are examples.
- The Enterprise Level: quality, asset management, cost control.
- Executive/Employee Level: productivity, team collaboration, product development
One recent client’s experience shows all three levels being met by the effective utilization of the corporate aircraft. The company had a goal to double the number of retail locations in the Northeast US. The Aviation Department used the corporate aircraft to transport corporate teams to the Northeast to oversee and manage the opening of the new locations and to coordinate the training needed for the new mangers and employees. It flew senior management to speak at the regional meetings. Other times they flew sales and marketing teams to train new employees at multiple sites over a few days.
The aviation department benefited the corporation at all three levels. They helped meet Shareholder expectations by: increasing market share by opening new stores. At the Enterprise Level they helped the management teams maintain quality of service at the new locations. For the Employees, they helped maintain executive staff productivity while training new staff.
Here are a few tips.
Focus on Corporate Goals and consider how Aviation can help achieve those goals: Relate trip fulfillment to corporate goals. For the retailer cited above, the utilization strategy was supporting trips to the Northeast US during the corporation’s expansion in that region. The Aviation Department knew the corporate goals and developed tactics for how aviation personal and resources would support the company. Not all executives may readily see how aviation is able to help.
Use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the efficacy and value-added nature of the Aviation Department. As a quick review, for a KPI to be valuable, it must be understandable, meaningful and measurable. In general, a KPI can follow the SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based. Tie KPI’s into the utilization strategy to aid in the measuring of the benefits to the company.
Beware of measuring activity rather than productivity. One client managed the flight schedule to maximize filling the seats on the aircraft traveling to their main operating locations. Sometimes that strategy meant coordinating trips to fill the aircraft seats. For the Aviation Department, they maximized the productivity of each trip (passengers carried), knowing that the productivity benefit to the company was maintained while managing costs. While hours flown is an important metric, the Aviation Department maximized measures of productivity that supported the executive team and thus the corporation.
With respect to costs, be sure to include costs that are avoided in terms of travel expenses such as overnight stays, lost worked time/productivity and other elements of inefficiency. Time saved results in money saved.
Throughout the process of helping met the company’s strategic goals, the Aviation Department will need feedback from the corporation’s executive leadership. In addition to focusing on corporate goals, feedback is essential to guide the Aviation Department in its quest to serve the many bosses who demand satisfaction. Doing so benefits the company, the shareholders, the employees, and of course, the aviation department.