How to grow an aviation operations business? - Part Four

Staff and development

Regardless of how many staff you have, having the right staff and developing them in what they do is critical to your business and can have a massive difference in the growth of your business. You cannot be everywhere at once and nobody likes a micro manager so hiring the right people, empowering them to treat your business as their own and giving them the opportunities and training they want and need will help to get the best from them.
Improve hiring 

The two biggest mistakes people make when hiring is: 
  1. Hiring based on skills rather than character 
  2. Only starting to look when you desperately need someone and not having people on your radar already.
  1. Hiring based on skills rather than character
    Peter Schutz, the former CEO of Porsche once said in a well-articulated way “Hire character, train skill”. For almost every job, you need to make sure the person you hire has some required skills or qualifications. Pilots have to be able to fly the aircraft you have and be qualified. Engineers need some experience in the types of things you are wanting them to do. However, if you get someone with the right attitude, a willingness to learn, a desire to do their best, and someone who is smart, they will be much more successful than an applicant who doesn’t have those characteristics but have more experience or the right qualifications doing what you need them to do. 

    Talk to anyone in business and they'll have a story of when they hired the wrong person for a role and it will generally be that they had the wrong attitude, didn’t want to change the way they did things, or just didn't care enough. "They looked great on paper" the business person will tell you.  Experience and qualifications can be gained and skills can be learned but character is incredibly difficult to changed and even when change does occur, it is often only temporary.  

  2. Only starting to look when you need someone & not having people on your radar already.
    Often when someone resigns or when we realise that we can't keep up the amount of work and another team member is needed, it's then a mad rush to find someone for the role. We advertise, interview and hire within a very short space of time as we just can't face not having someone to fill that role as soon as possible. In hiring rushing the process is your enemy but unfortunately, sometimes there is no other alternative. 

    That's where having a "bench" of people you could call on for roles in your company is very handy. What we mean by this is even when you don’t need someone desperately, having your eyes out for the type of people that would be a good fit, having conversations with them about how you might see them fitting and just keeping relationships ticking along. If you have these people, when you get handed a resignation or when the need is there, you can act quickly but know that you are talking to the right person as you've been interacting with them for months. Have a great bench and you can hire fast without the risk of hiring incorrectly.

Staff development 

A 2016 employee survey found that when asked what they most value at work, personal development came out on top. Salary took third spot and commissions and bonuses and benefits packages trailing in at sixth and seventh. Staff seemingly have a more long term view in furthering their career development than just focussing on the here and now. This means staff development will create a happier place for staff to work and that should help increase productivity. 

Also, investing in your staff's personal development will help keep your staff for longer. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, a massive 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. That is a huge number of team members working for you for longer and you benefiting from their experience and knowledge for longer. That can only be a good thing for your business.  

There are a lot of staff development opportunities to look out for that staff would love to be involved in and often staff would have seen things they would like to be involved in as well. Some examples are: 
  • Industry conferences 
  • Public speaking training for confidence building 
  • Job/industry specific training and certifications 
  • Leadership Training 
  • Interpersonal Relationships 
  • Personality/Strength development 
  • Team building

Promote internally/share responsibly  

Although it sometimes seems the "grass is always greener" with getting new staff members onboard (the shiny new employee), often promoting from within is a better option. The main benefits of promoting internally when needed are: 

  • Promoting from within sends the right message to your existing staff that there are opportunities for advancement. 
  • When one employee succeeds, everyone benefits. It is well known that when employees see one of their own promoted, there is a positive effect on staff morale which in turn helps the entire company.   
  • Internal hires also keep your hiring costs down. Advertising a job externally can be expensive, especially if you need a recruitment company. It also means you don’t have as much of a delay in the employee onboarding 
  • The person hiring often has knowledge about internal candidates, and typically has a relationship with them as well which means a great chance of success.

Note: There are other things to consider with internal promotion however. Internal promotion can cause jealously and competition from other employees and often new hires can inject ideas and energy to an organization.  

There is also the option to have a few team members form a "leadership team" to take responsibility for various things around your business. This allows for a larger number of people to be "promoted" and gives you a larger group to pull ideas and skills from. Leadership teams spreads the load and lets you really see who your top performers are for when full leadership positions open up.  

All these things in relation to staff development are needed to help with growth. Without great staff, growth is hard and slow.


Over this four part series on how to grow your aviation operations business, we've looked at:

  1. How to grow client base and the client value of existing clients
  2. Where to look for internal efficiencies & effectiveness of your staff
  3. What additional, complementary services to potentially offer and how to give great customer support 
  4. The importance of your staff to this growth and why it's important to development your team
Growth isn't always important to every business and may only be for a particular time period but there are always ways to improve your business to be more effective, service your clients better and make more money.


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