1998-11-09

Preparing Technicians to Assume Leadership Roles Following Promotion 983104

It is common practice throughout the airline industry to promote technicians into leadership or managerial positions after a period of demonstrated proficiency as maintenance professionals. Research by Purdue University strongly suggests, however, that many of these technicians find themselves in a position which imposes the need for knowledge or skills which they do not possess. While these individuals have found excellence in their technical pursuits, most find it difficult to attain excellence in their new positions due to the lack of adequate training and definition of job expectations.
There appears to be a generalized assumption across the aviation industry that good technicians have the intrinsic knowledge and skills to become good leaders and managers. Experience has proven, however, that this is an unrealistic expectation. Research has shown that many of these technicians are confused about the true nature of their job and expectations concerning their performance. In addition to not understanding the full scope and detail of their position responsibilities, many of these technical leaders and managers express frustration concerning their lack of skills in dealing with task work flow control, project management, production measurements and data analysis, and managing people. In an industry which is moving more aggressively toward team-centered and empowered work cultures, nowhere are these deficiencies more apparent than in so called “people skills”.
This paper explores the generalized inadequacy across the industry to provide training opportunities for the requisite knowledge and skill development of technicians promoted to leadership positions in industry maintenance work environments. It discusses the research findings on specific deficiencies in knowledge and skills noted for several positions as well as the expressed feelings and frustrations of individuals within those positions. The paper also proposes methods for conducting a needs assessment of specific work environments to identify the knowledge and skills necessary for a technician to thrive in their new position.

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