May 29, 2020

Managing distractions is a constant challenge for any organization. In an industry defined by quick turnarounds and frequently changing schedules, it can be a struggle for even the most diligent teams.

Overcoming distractions that challenge business aviation companies was the focus of the latest NBAA GO Virtual Maintenance Conference session, “Avoid a Performance Wreck, Manage Distractions.” Those interested may join the live Q&A at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, June 1.

“The reason for the business aircraft is the flexibility it provides users,” said presenter Bob Hobbi, president and CEO of ServiceElements, “but that flexibility is the cause of a lot of distractions and interruptions.”

Mitigating the negative effects of those distractions is a critical part of maintaining a safe and effective work environment, particularly as COVID-19 only adds to the number of stressors on personnel. Hobbi noted that even before the pandemic, an estimated 20% of the U.S. workforce admitted to being distracted from their job for personal reasons, such as health, family, addictions and financial concerns.

“Now that percentage has probably increased as the list of distractions has multiplied many times over,” he said.

Hobbi encouraged precise communication that clearly establishes overarching priorities, helping team members better organize what they need to personally focus on. He also recommended inserting scheduled interruptions at critical points in the workflow to give teams increased time to reflect on the project or react to delays.

“Managing doesn’t mean stopping distractions, it means anticipating and creating time for everyone to deal with them,” he said.

Hobbi advised that managing distractions in business aviation is directly related to an organizational focus on safety. Things such as a collective understanding of which emails need to be answered right away, and which can be answered later, play a large role in creating a workplace culture where tasks contributing to safety are prioritized.

“Safety is the number one service we provide for our customers, and distractions are constantly dragging us away from what helps us become safer and better at what we do,” he cautioned.