Saturday, June 23, 2012


Preview Questions

Do we need more resources in Atc? What are the controller's resources in Atc and the relation between well-being and these resources? What are psychological resources and how can they be useful in the workplace?

Have you ever wondered what are our resources in Atc? Think about it for a minute. Ask your colleagues at work.  According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, resources can be: sources of supply and support; phenomena that enhance the quality of human life; sources of information or expertise; possibilities of relief or recovery; abilities to handle a situation. Do we have need of resources in Atc? As you contemplate this question, I invite you to take a look at the following video:

In the workplace, we have 2 types of resources: organizational resources and psychological resources. Here, organizational resources comprise the organizational environment, the culture, the role of management: supervisors, managers and leaders ( CEOs/ governing bodies) and us - the human resources, the atcos-on-the-floor or AOFs. Anthropologists often examine the culture and the environment of a country in their study of norms in a society. Yes, a difference between organizational environment and culture also exists in our workplace according to Morgan and Smircich (2006). 
Our organizational environment refer to the physical things in Atc: our radar, headsets, mikes, frequencies, rest facilities, chairs etc. Our organizational culture are the impacts of management as well as our workplace policies, written and verbally understood workplace ethics. Do you know if your Atc unit has a written workplace policy? What are some of the verbally understood ethics at your Atc unit? For example, in Trinidad, it is customary for a controller  to prepare a meal or buy drinks for the rest of the teammates of the shift when this controller is leaving the shift of teammates or is going on vacation. That is part of their Atc culture. It is not written anywhere that the outgoing controller must be hospitable but rather an unwritten custom that the majority of these ATCOs follow. 

Societies are differentiated by unique culture and environment. What is your Atc culture  and  environment?

The psychological resources represent the elements that help us feel good about ourselves at work, that help us find ATC to be enjoyable and meaningful and that help us to grow personally and in the career of Air Traffic Control. Because the profession is one where we work in groups, much of the psychological resources are derived from behavior or our interaction with colleagues. What is the link between our resources, our organizational as well as psychological resources and well-being in Atc? Remember the definition of resources?  Our resources are sources of supply and support; phenomena that enhance the quality of human life; sources of information or expertise; possibilities of relief or recovery; abilities to handle a situation. 
Our resources, our well-being, our proclivity towards work and organizational performance are linked in a cyclical, monotonic relationship. This simply means that the greater our level of wellbeing, the better our safety performance in ATC will be. Consider the workers who are currently building a wooden footpath thousands of meters in the sky, around the steep slopes of the Shifou Mountain in the Hunan Province of China.
They are highly skilled and are relied upon to construct glass or wooden footpaths high up in the mountainous regions for sightseers. Imagine what could happen if a worker was not on friendly terms with another worker, or was not enthused about what he was doing, or was tired, or did not have the proper tools?!

Workers - Shifou Mountain, China

The prime purpose of resources is to help the employee feel engaged in her work. If her wellbeing at the workplace is not what it should be, do you think that her situational awareness will be excellent? Ponder for a moment: are there resources in your ATC unit that encourages you to feel engaged in your work? There is no production line, so how does wellbeing impact upon ATC productivity? What motivates ATCOsto be engaged in their work? Stay tuned...

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