Thursday, February 18, 2010

Professionalism

Professionalism is two things. Firstly it is always doing your utmost to ensure a safe, legal, efficient flight that meets the needs and expectations of your customers. In the case of passengers that includes maintaining their physical and emotional comfort. And much of that is achieved through the second part of professionalism, always maintaining the appearance of someone who will fulfill the first part.

The first part is achieved by following checklists, learning everything you can about your airplane, insisting that things are done right even when it is inconvenient, keeping current with and obeying all the regulations and policies, always flying with the precision that would be demanded of you in the most extreme emergency, identifying your weaknesses and working to strengthen them, and reporting for duty sober, fed, rested and fit. The second part is achieved with a recent haircut, white shirt, straight tie, and whatever other accoutrement your company has decided the passengers need to see to be convinced that you can fly; treating your customers and coworkers with respect; not being identifiable in any way as a commercial pilot when you celebrate your friend's birthday with half a dozen martinis, and not going out for Hallowe'en dressed as the World Trade Centre with half an airplane stuck to the side of your head.

I find it interesting that these two separate requirements are covered by the same name, and treated as one. You could call it being professional versus maintaining a professional appearance, but part of being professional is maintaining a professional appearance. Some people are better at one than the other. Some people fly safely, stay sharp and work well with everyone except management, because they find the second part to be utter bullshit. I don't think one can maintain the fa├žade of the professional appearance for long without having something underneath it. But then I've never been a good liar.

9 comments:

Captain Dave said...

In my experience, the pilots who find the second part pure bullshit do not do well with the first part, unless they are forced to by a check airman or Fed looking over their shoulder and then they have been slacking off so much that they cannot remember the company mandated procedures.

Paul B said...

I think what you say applies in so many other fields too. I am a trainer and consultant in the computer networking field.

As a Consultant, unless I already know the customer, and know they prefer a relaxed dress policy, I will meet them wearing a suit and tie (or smart trousers and a jacket).

For training, I can be a bit less formal, but I'll always wear trousers (not jeans etc), a smart shirt (often a vendor branded one, but no tie) and shoes. I leave the jeans, tshirts and trainers for the students!

Yes, it's not just what you are able to do that matters: the APPEARANCE that you you can do it also matters. And if you are goinbg to succeed, then you need to have both halves of the equation right.

Word Verification: estyllou. It's got the word "style" in there....

GeorgeG said...

I agree with Paul B that the things you say work for many professions. In healthcare we try to help our patients to resolve existing health problems and prevent future ones as well as possible. To succeed, we have to keep current our knowledge base and our skills. As far as appearance goes, our patients need to see us as credible advisors or they will have no confidence in our advice.
I am outside aviation except for my experiences as an airline passenger, but I read this blog because Aviatrix opens a window into a world that I find fascinating. As I follow the conversations in all their diversity however, I’m repeatedly impressed at how much we all share in terms of fundamentals.

viennatech said...

At my workplace they used to have a strict shirt and tie type dress code. We grumbled but everyone looked great and whether we knew what we were talking about or not, people listened. We were a force to be reckoned with. One day our CEO went to a conference and was chastised for looking so sharp. "Why don't you put on the golf shirt and relax like us" and so the company relazed the dress code. Since that day everything has gone downhill.

Does it really matter what you wear as long as you know what you are doing? I would say ABSOLUTELY.

If you work at home in your underwear and bunny slippers, it will show. When I work at home, I sometimes slip the tie on and can immediately feel the effect.

I guess we are all just acotrs in life and wearing the costume is a requirement.....

zb said...

It seems the last post about the 737 with the flying 101 was just in preparation for this one.

As in: Is the 737 mentioned in the previous post a good sign of professionalism ;-)

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At my company (non-aviation), my boss always points out how clearly you can distinguish the financial folks from the technical folks at noon, in the cafeteria. I yet have to figure out if he would like his technical team to wear ties or if he thinks the "others" are a bunch of good-looking morons ;-)

Anonymous said...

The Flying 101 livery is aimed at customers: it's advertising. It carries devious messages, such as "You already know what the wings look like - clever customer, give yourself a pat on the head, feel good about yourself and us" and "This airline will be cheaper but friendlier than the boring heritage carrier".

Anoynmous said...

When I work at home, I sometimes slip the tie on and can immediately feel the effect.

The effect I often feel from a tie is due to lack of blood to the brain. :-P

"If men can run the world, why can't they stop wearing neckties? How intelligent is it to start the day by tying a little noose around your neck?" -- Linda Ellerbee

Scott Johnson said...

To me, nothing says, "I can fly" like showing up in a big fuzzy duck costume. Just sayin...

Anonymous said...

Outfits with lots of stripes on them?

Like this one you mean?

*SCNR* ;-)