By Jean Luc Devisscher
7th June, 2023
It’s not exceptional that when an organization makes important changes to become a more efficient organization, that the person on the ground immediately asks “what’s in it for me”?
And so it happens that in many organizations big changes don’t start off on the right foot.
It’s critical that one always creates a solid buy-in with all stakeholders in any project and even more so if it concerns a big transformation project.
This is no different in any new operational management trajectory at an airport.
If your goal is to make people work better together you have every interest to involve them, have them have their say and listen how they are often losing valuable time just because of inexistent or badly aligned processes.
The case of the ground handler that is awaiting the plane to start unloading the plane is a good example of how delays occur.
Every morning the ground handler gets his data for the day so he knows what planes are under his responsibility to take care of the baggage handling.
His overview contains all available timings and gates so that he perfectly knows where to head to at what point in time and perform the agreed tasks together with the team.
What happens if a plane comes in early, is late, is of a different type or a gate has changed?
In an ideal world the ground handler is informed in real time about any changes and so are all other staff involved in the turn-around management process but we all know that in a lot of cases an ideal world is just a dream.
Once the ground handler is getting the information about a last minute gate change or the late arrival of a plane quite late, then this will create a domino effect. The late unloading of the plane can result in a delay in loading the plane for its departure and can cause a delay in the travel schedule of some of the passengers going for a transit fight with just a short connection time.
It’s critical for the ground handler to express clearly what blocks him from losing time and adhering to the schedule so that (s)he sees that what impacts him/her is addressed by the new or updated processes. This not only leads to a higher motivation – his/her input was considered - but creates the much needed buy-in for an overhaul of key processes at the airport.
What the ground handler needs to know is what plane that concerns him or her is arriving when, at what gate and eventually with what special instructions.
This update will help to update priorities and guarantee an on time arrival at the right gate so handling is done on time and without any impact on the arrival process and the turn-around time. Unforeseen events can efficiently be managed if the right people are informed and understand the process for handling them.
Just like with any change process that is successful, the ground
handler in this case:
a) Needs to be actively involved in any changes that impact his role and his impact on the turn-around process
b) Needs to indicate how his role can become more efficient and how time can be saved while doing so and see this being considered in the new process
c) Needs to understand his impact on the end-to-end turn-around management and the importance of the interaction with all key players in managing last minute changes
d) Should be given a way to implement changes into the tooling created on the basis of new or updated processes so he can update all other stakeholders in real-time
e) Is invited into regular sessions to understand the evolution of the process and his impact on the agreed updates or new process
We work with people and if there is one thing not to be underestimated it is that people need to be motivated and for this they need to feel respected and heard in what they do. Only then will they assume full responsibility.
Like with any new process or any transformation exercise success lies in people understanding the “what’s in it for me” and actively involving them is the strongest motivator to make them contribute successfully.
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