Soft Skills Defluffed – Non-Technical Enhancements to Human Performance
Training social skills is essential: social interactions in the workplace can either enhance or degrade aviation safety. As aviation safety starts with airworthiness, the work of Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMT) is crucial. Despite the belief that aircraft maintenance personnel are loners, teamwork underpins maintenance safety. Although interpersonal interactions create a sense of belonging and acceptance for some maintainers, for others, their experiences result in exclusion, feelings of disrespect or psychologically unsafe work environments. Research of the ATM population shows that normalized behaviours like bullying, power dynamics through hierarchy, and discrimination in the workplace degrade communication and increase distraction, pressure, stress and emotional fatigue. Factors degrading human performance pose a risk to aviation safety and its workforce.
Crew Resource Management and non-technical training were introduced to flight operations almost 40 years ago; however, the regulatory mandate for aircraft maintenance training centralizing around social skills and human performance falls short. More so, how AMTs engage with one another and the effect of social skills on aviation safety is underestimated.
First, this session highlights the importance of social skills by connecting negative social interactions to degraded human performance. Next, the session offers guidance on leveraging the two social categories of the NOTECHS (non-technical training developed to support flight operations) framework in annual training programs and employee appraisals.
- Team building and maintaining
- Considering others
- Supporting others
- Conflict solving
- Leadership and management skills
- Use of authority
- Maintaining standards
- Planning and coordinating
- Workload management
By understanding the connection between social skills and human performance, organizations can integrate foster behaviours that support aviation safety, psychologically safe work environments and enhance employee performance through social skills.