Monday, November 19, 2012

Objective Analysis of Problems in Atc - Absenteeism

Preview Questions
How to deal with absenteeism and other problems in the Atc unit?  

"It ought to be remembered that there's nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." - The Prince, Nicolo Machiavelli (c.1513)

Nicolo Machiavelli was one of the first analysts of government policy. But analysts do not limit their roles to government. Have you ever looked at the structure of an organization and observed that an analyst is part of the hierarchy? An analyst does just what the name suggests. If no analyst is present, then some companies hire the services of a consultant.
Today we are going to wear the shoes of an analyst and examine a generalization that we hear from some managers in Atc and other companies - the problem of absenteeism. There are other problems too but we use this as an example to explain the process involved in examining problems and other potential setbacks in the Atc unit. 
Sherlock Holmes was a fictional analyst.  Both he and Machiavelli  objectively  examined  specific problems via a methodology. How can we analyse the problem of absenteeism in Atc?
"We have a problem," laments the Atc manager. "Controllers are persistently absent from duty. What do I do?"
Imagine that you are the analyst or a consultant, what will you recommend from the following suggestions:
a/ isolate the controllers who are regularly absent and send them a memo with a written warning; 
b/ issue a memo with a written warning for the following month to all controllers and assisants 
c/ talk about the problem; 
d/ none of the above
Holmes and Machiavelli used a particular methodology to analyze the problems first before making any  recommendations. The same principle applies in the Atc unit. Let us do an objective analysis of absenteeism using 3 angles or main aspects: valid policy, data evidence and the situation or the setting in which the problem occurs.

Firstly, you must ensure that the Atc unit understands accurately what is meant by absenteeism. You need the policy on absenteeism and several benchmark studies. Does the Atc unit have a policy on absenteeism? What is the Atc unit's view of absenteeism? Are the managers adequately trained? What is the manager's view of absenteeism? 
The absence of a policy on absenteeism or  inadequate training of Atc managers fosters pseudoethical policies to float around the Atc unit. These are usually accepted as true. The ethical policy combined with the use of the benchmark studies give you a sense of analytical direction akin referrals in a law case. They will also help you quickly identify the floating myths about absenteeism.  For example, absenteeism according to the annals of organization does not simply refer to a controller who calls to say that she is ill for duty.
Secondly, you have to establish whether there is a basis for absenteeism. You need evidence. For this you will need the appropriate data. The data should be readily available or easy to access. You need data for a period of time to observe the trends and to forecast future trends. Does the Atc unit that wishes to treat effectively with the problem of absenteeism have the appropriate data? Or is the manager using the convenient excuse that the data is confidential to hide the reality that she does not know how to transform employee records into workable data? 
Thirdly, you need to examine the setting in which the absenteeism occurs. If the Atc unit is multitasking by utilizing controllers from a small workforce to engage in other duties then you need to question the mission as well as the ethics of the Atc unit. The role of the human factors in air navigation is extremely important and should not be misused nor passively abused to satisfy administrative ambition. What is the code of ethics of this Atc unit under investigation for absenteeism? What are the immediate and long term goals of this Atc unit?
A Professor in discussing Innovation and Strategies (Didier BARDIN, Université de Panthéon Sorbonne Paris 1) once remarked that companies will always want to find new ways to deal with problems but they are rarely ready to commit to innovative strategy. If any of the 3 aspects of the analysis are missing: no real policy on absenteeism, or no appropriate data or a situation that reveals an apparent lack of ethics and unclear goals, then the Atc unit is simply not ready to treat with the problem of absenteeism. 
This methodology can be applied to any problem facing the Atc unit. Here again are the 3 main aspects for an objective analysis:  valid policy, data evidence and the situation or the setting in which the problem occurs.
For the post for Wednesday/Thursday I will make the links with wellbeing and include an inventory of wellbeing for controllers. Boa noite todo!
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