Friday, November 9, 2012

The Greatest Happiness of the Greater Number

...And hello everyone! The blog is back! I missed it and I missed writing to all my readers. I had been assisting with a project on Turkey. Following that I went roaming around Barcelona! I walked with my laptop everyday with the intentions of going to Pont Neuf to finish this post but I always get sidelined or distracted to wander about Paris.
Pont d'Arcole, Paris 1ère arrondisement at night

Now that I am back in Trinidad, I have less distractions and can give the blog spot the attention that it really needs.  I am happy that I went to Paris and I do not have any regrets. It is because of my studies there that I now see organizational development from a psychological and an economic perspective. I have benefited greatly and now I am sharing what I have learned with the wider aviation community and aficionados of this blog.
Before we continue, I wish to commend all the Atcos who worked the Olympic traffic particularly those of the NATS area. Your vacation will be more wonderful. To the controller who took part in the Cycling Sprint in the Olympics, I felt inspired so I'll be taking my swimming more seriously. 
Now for this week's post. Since this post is rather long, I will separate it into 2 sections.

Part I

The greatest happiness of the greatest number

Preview Questions

What role does management contribute to Atcos well-being? 

19th century legal philosopher and social reformist, Jeremy Bentham made the title of this post famous. He took the words from an 18th century book on criminal law Dei delitti e delle pene (Of crime and    punishment). He postulated that if the legislative arm of government revised the laws on punity for crime, the domestic society will benefit and man's happiness will increase. His simple poetic prose teach us another lesson: that those in power can affect the happiness of their subordinates. What is the comparative lesson here for us?
Writings of Cesare Beccaria which influenced  the  writings of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill on the ethics of altruistic utility 

Like the legislative arm of government, managers have the power to improve or erode the overall well-being of our Atc units. Think of it like the effect of waves upon sand that could produce either an inviting shore or a rocky and repulsive waterfront. As Bentham opined, managers can contribute or detract from altruistic utility or the happiness of  employees, particulary the human factors in aviation.
The role of managers in Atc units, should not be underestimated or taken lightly. The human factors, primarily the controllers and by extension, the support staff as well as the administrative employees make up the social assets of the unit who we commonly know as the human resources.  It is the norm to take care of the physical assets in an organization. For instance, a new building undergoes repainting and refurbishing at specific times throughout the year. But how do we care for the social assets in the Atc unit?
Seaside town of Sitges, Catalunya Barcelona
The role of managers is likened to the effect of  wave erosion

The key role of managers is akin to the painters and others who are entrusted with the role of building maintenance. A manager who is inadequately trained to care after social assets or who do not possess the alacrity for being concerned about the welfare of others will not appreciate the value of social assets. A manager whose primary motive is to satisfy personal ambition by getting ahead via promotion is not ready to see after the collective wellbeing of the social assets in the Atc unit. Please note that the usage of the term "controllers" in this blog refers to controllers, support staff as well as the staff engaged in ancillary duties.
Overall well-being in each Atc unit is a conglomeration of the individual well-being of the employees of each Atc unit. Recall from a previous post that atcos need to feel engaged. Thus a controller must have at his/her disposal the 3 P elements that act as motivators in the profession of Atc: physical, physiological as well as psychological elements which improve well-being.
What then are the best motivators for atcos that comprise all of these elements? Part II of this blog will answer this question as it highlights some positive and negative psychoeconomic factors that could be present in the Atc unit.
According to a survey on job satisfaction, controllers rated the following as the most important motivators for their well-being :
- recognition and appreciation
- modern functioning equipment
- compensation and benefits
These are all organizational elements with an interrelated central core that is rooted in the principles of organizational psychology, social interactions and behavioral economics. Thus it is appropriate that focus includes examining the psychoeconomic aspects of Air traffic control and by extension the Atc unit if we wish to experience overall improvement in well-being in Atc.
The question we must consider is: what is the state of well-being in our Atc units and how does this state affect the greater happiness of the greater number? Let us now consider the second part of this blog.
Job Satisfaction scale of Air traffic controllers acccording to a study on Wellbeing  and  controllers (June-July 2012)

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