Nikki Heath, Director and Behavioural & Performance Psychologist, Orbit Performance
Nikki has worked in the Human Performance environment for 25 years and in that time has incorporated and run a successful Human Performance company, which she sold in 2014. She has created, designed and developed a number of human performance evaluation and assessment tools that are now employed internationally in aviation and with the UK Police Force and been a Sports Psychologist for 20 years including officially with Olympic and Formula One teams. Through Orbit Performance and her sister company iMeasure Ltd., she is continuing to work to find ways of successfully improving performance that are modern and relevant to the current workforce and organisational cultures. She has a track record of combining her Human Factors knowledge and her Psychological and Human Performance qualification and knowledge to create highly effective ways of measuring complex human issues. Her techniques are unique in that they are able to incorporate physical, mental and behavioural aspects of performance as well as, uniquely the impact and interaction that people have with social media and how it may influence their behaviour at work.
It is now 10 plus years since IATA issued its Guidelines on Pilot Selection, but what has changed and how has the industry responded; how do airlines and training organisations use selection, does it work and is it relevant for the future?
In a decade there have been substantial shifts in emphasis in the industry, ranging from numbers of available trained pilots (then over production, now under), industry growth, operational demands/aircrew lifestyle, significant accident types involving pilot mental state resulting in a stronger focus on pilot well-being and organisational Duty of Care, new generation a/c, iPads and the list goes on. Add into this mix the new generation of recruits from which the industry will be recruiting, many of whom appear not to be interested in working away from home or working unsociable/irregular hours.
Attraction of new recruits into the industry is a concern, competing with other opportunities who want the same candidates. The selection process must ensure that it is measuring the right things to aid retention and is supportive of applicant without reducing the input standard. There is a need to find resilient, capable people – both physically and cognitively, who are also effective communicators, empathetic (but not overly so) with a strong desire to perform the role and have appropriate expectations of what the role will offer them and the challenges they can expect to experience. Oh, and they need to be good at languages if not English speaking and be financially viable too!