Whether flying or maintaining aircraft, a vigilance for attention to detail must be constantly maintained. How you achieve this will dictate your success. The natural tendency is to let your attention level drift once you become comfortable with your situation.
Large companies/airlines compensate for this by establishing routines for every thinkable situation and forcing training and retraining on these procedures. This rote memorization and practice works well, as evidenced by airline safety records. However, it requires an enormous amount of resources to implement and maintain. Can even a large training and planning department think of everything and write a procedure for it? I am not one to say. But having all of your choices mapped out for you does take away a lot of what being a pilot is about (or was in the past). I’m pretty sure passengers do not want to go back to the safety records of the DC-3 air carrier days. But I feel like pilots should still be trained to be good, thoughtful pilots. It adds to satisfaction in the workplace. And some day, the “never thought of” event may happen.
Where unlimited training resources are not available, keeping your attention and effort level up falls on the individual and his direct boss. A professional General Aviation pilot attends regular recurrent training. He can get as much or as little as he wants out of it. I do not think I have ever heard of someone at a private training company failing training. There does not seem to be any jeopardy in it for an individual flying a corporate aircraft. So where is the motivation for an individual to put forth any extra effort in training? In most cases it comes from personal pride in doing a good job. In some cases, a flight department manager oversees training performance and everything from pay to job security can depend on it. I believe motivation in the workplace with whatever managerial method works best provides the most attention to detail. Keeping your employees pride level high by praise for a job done well will instill self motivation. When it comes to an employee falling short of expectation, the manager’s attention level plays a big part. A manager that keeps track of a job and keeps employees on the right course can prevent that job from ending in failure. Consequently there must be attention to detail all the way up the chain of command. So it is up to the management to provide the proper form of oversight and motivation at high levels of attention to detail. It is up to the individuals doing to the work to use that motivation to keep a high level of attention to detail.
The biggest motivation factor in aviation is safety. I constantly remind myself and my employees that what we do effects the lives of our clients and co-workers. For pilots and mechanics alike, being put in a position of such responsibility garners pride in our workmanship. Whether it falls to the mechanic to second check his work, or the pilot to run a routine checklist, we must have the thought hovering over us that lives depend on our doing our job, not just well, but perfectly. Even though perfection is not attainable, we keep striving for it.
After safety, consider success as the next biggest motivating factor. Be careful how you measure success though. Simply finishing a maintenance job on time does not constitute success. Taking a flight into bad circumstances does not constitute success. Accomplishing those jobs and flights at the highest level of safety, with every effort put forth should be the true measure of success. Being able to look back at the work you did with pride is the ultimate goal.
I lead a very fulfilling work life as a pilot and business owner. I have the trust of my clients. I feel like my employees trust in my leadership. As long as we can keep the attention to detail levels high, we are sure to have success.
Whatever your motivating factor, find ways of reminding yourself of the importance of a job well done. Try not to fall into the trap of boredom, laziness, or dissent. In the case of aviation, the risk is high and the rewards are great.