Centerlines - October 2011 - (Page 15)

ASSOCIATES’ CORNER The Value of SMS Extends Well Beyond Safety Airports can incorporate SMS into their organizations to help mitigate the loss of Baby Boomers involved. Knowledge is documented. The end result is that information no longer resides within a single person; it resides in the team and its collective knowledge and is documented for future needs, thus minimizing the loss of historical records and experience when any one person retires or departs. While the focus of SMS is to enhance a safety culture, the same approach can be used to enhance a customer- and stakeholderfocused culture. For example, a team consisting of a cross-section of airport employees can be assembled to identify stakeholder expectations, analyze the airport’s processes that deliver products and services to those stakeholders, determine how those processes can be improved, implement the improvements, and continuously check stakeholder satisfaction and adjust airport processes accordingly. As with safety-focused teams, customer-focused teams share information, expertise and insights, thus improving the collective skill of team members. Mid- and juniorlevel airport staff—tomorrow’s airport leaders—gain valuable experience focusing on customers and stakeholders, which will remain with them as they ascend to senior levels when current leaders retire or move elsewhere. At the same time, senior-level staff (e.g., Baby Boomers) derives satisfaction by mentoring and educating lessexperienced employees, thus leaving the airport in the same or better condition than when they inherited the leadership reins. Employees who are part of team problem solving take ownership and feel a part of the airport’s overall success, boosting self-satisfaction and motivation. As front-line employees take on greater levels of responsibility, supervisors and managers are free to focus on other priorities, thus the entire organization grows in its ability to overcome problems and take advantage of opportunities. Applying quality-management concepts of SMS to an airport’s overall operation is not easy, quick or a panacea. Each employee must come to understand and embrace how a new way of approaching work personally benefits him or her, and that takes time and effort. It is a challenging long-term investment to fundamentally improve employee and stakeholder satisfaction, while more efficiently using scarce financial resources. The bottom line is the bottom line: an energized, involved workforce is more efficient. Facing limited fi nancial resources and unbounded constituent and customer expectations, engaged airports deliver more bang for the buck. Doing more, with less, delivered by a more enthusiastic workforce; is that not the charge of today’s airport leaders? As airport managers determine their SMS strategy, it will serve them well to consider its potential farreaching value. CHUCK REITTER, CA REITTER CONSULTING | CENTERLINES SAFETY MANAGEMENT S Y S T E M S are certainly controversial in the near term, though airports eventually will embrace SMS in some form. Short-term questions aside, SMS can be viewed as a longterm opportunity for airports to introduce into their organizations quality management concepts that can help them address another major concern: the retirement of Baby Boomers and the associated loss of institutional knowledge. Among SMS’s basic tenets is a focus on employee interactions, which improves teamwork and enhances a continuous improvement process. Applying these concepts airportwide beyond safety can lead to such benefits as documenting institutional knowledge and experience, training the next generation of senior management to meet and exceed stakeholder and constituent expectations, enhancing employee morale and motivation, and improving the efficient use of fi nancial resources. In SMS, managerial and nonmanagerial personnel work together to identify potential safety concerns and analyze how the processes involved are carried out, looking for ways to improve safety. The environment encourages team members to brainstorm ideas in an open and trusting atmosphere as situations, stakeholders and team members change over time. As the team works together, documenting processes—looking at the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of the way things are done—is a natural by-product, assimilating the best ideas of everyone 15

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Centerlines - October 2011

Welcome Message
President’s Message
Canadian Airports
Associates’ Corner
Policy Corner
On the Hill and On the Stump
The 2011 William E. Downes Jr. Award
Host Airport
Cover Story: Money, Service and Regulations are Top Concerns at Small Airports
Feature: Celebrating 20 Years of Annual Conferences
Feature: The Heart of the City—Aerotropolis Concept Positions Airports as City Cores
Security: TSA Reauthorization
Passenger Focus: Wings for Autism
On Management: Health and Happiness—Wellness Programs Benefit Employee and Employer
Grand Openings
Now Underway
New Members
Conference Sponsors
Conference Exhibitors
Index of Advertisers/
Box Scores

Centerlines - October 2011