Known for industry innovation and leadership, the air fleet company thrives on change as a competitive advantage. The company’s management analyzed how Six Sigma quality improvement disciplines, when applied to aircraft maintenance and air operations, might yield competitive advantages.
Management understood that in order to achieve their continuous improvement goal, they needed to clearly communicate their change vision to the workforce. Managers and workers would also need to embrace new behaviors and interaction skills that would eliminate tension, promote interdepartmental cooperation, streamline maintenance processes, and get aircraft back into service faster.
To equip managers and the workforce to lead and support the implementation change effort, the fleet operator turned to Wilson Learning, an award-winning, global learning and development provider.
As part of its solution set for the company, Wilson Learning implemented a series of enterprise-wide workshops. These workshops involved four different maintenance and air operations departments. Cross-departmental classes helped develop cross-functional knowledge and broaden resource availability.
Top management kicked off each workshop to convey urgency and leadership’s trust in the training initiatives. The workshops featured the following Wilson Learning programs.
Building Relationship Versatility™: Through instruction and role-play, participants learned to understand their own style and that of others, including differences and reactions under pressure. They discovered ways to increase their versatility by adapting their behavior to improve communication and reduce conflicts.
Getting to Yes™: Participants learned the basics of principled negotiation, which focuses on the interests of both parties in a negotiation. They learned skills for better questioning, listening, persuading, strategizing, problem solving, and countering unfair tactics. As a result, participants are better able to achieve outcomes that are more satisfying for each party, protecting valuable working relationships and accomplishing more.
Because of this training, the company’s aircraft maintenance and air operations management team leaders are more effective. They are better equipped to lead change using interpersonal versatility and negotiation skills. These skills help them to build trust and demonstrate care and commitment, disciplines helping to drive the company’s organization-wide promise of collaborative continuous improvement.
Managers have new insights into how others perceive them and receive messages from them. They now understand how their own management style—and their propensity to give tell-directed instructions—resulted in pushback from many individuals. Managers learned how to be more versatile, which has led to improved decision buy-in. This new understanding helps them be more productive and better relate and respond to the motivations and expectations of their peers. Maintenance and air operations departments now are more productive as cross-department and cross-functional collaboration, trust, and self-direction have improved.
Overall, the program helped cross-departmental teams work together more efficiently and effectively. As a result, operations improved 56%. Furthermore, employees’ utilization of these new behaviors and skills is getting current airplanes back into service sooner and more reliably. This has kept the company from having to acquire two new aircraft (at a cost of $200 million each) to meet demand—a significant return on the initial training investment.