Creating a culture in 2 minutes

Every time he captains a flight, Martin says he needs to create the culture for the plane within the first two minutes of the crew getting together. He knows this is paramount to ensure the safety of his crew, his passengers and his plane.

It was inspiring to listen to Martin Bromiley, (Captain for a major airline and Chair of Clinical Human Factors Group – https://chfg.org ), at the recent National Freedom to Speak Up Conference, hosted by the NHS Guardian’s Office.

So how does he achieve this?

Martin is guided by, “How do I make it easy for everyone to do the right things?”

At the briefing, he begins by asking everyone to introduce themselves by their name, “No titles, we are all equals here”, he says. It is worth noting that most of the crew do not know each other and it is unlikely that this crew combination has ever worked together before.

“Anything you are uncertain of, doubtful of, a strange sound, a casual remark, anything that causes you to stop and think, wonder about or to be curious of, tell me, I want to know.” “Nothing is too trivial”.

How many leaders say something like that and don’t actually mean it?

Martin certainly walks his talk. So when anyone comes to him, he listens with intent, intent to understand and to pick up any underlying messages.

He takes what they are saying seriously.

He then personally investigates the noise, the concern, the worry, as he knows if he didn’t, (even though he may assume he knows the answer), then it may stop the next person speaking. Good news travels fast, bad news even faster.

How would you be feeling, knowing that your Manager or Leader has taken what you have said seriously?

At the end of the flight debrief, he singles out those who have spoken up, personally thanks them for doing so and that their willingness to be vulnerable is appreciated. He is also able to impart some of his new learning such that it is more widely shared.

How would you now be feeling, knowing that what you have said was valued and that your contribution mattered?

As Chris Voss, former FBI negotiator and Author of Never Split the Difference, says, albeit slightly tongue in cheek, “If I ever lie to a hostage taker I have to kill them, as if it ever gets out that I lie to get my way, I will never be trusted again by a hostage taker”. In reality, he never lies.

So my sense is that Martin’s way of being gets shared and compared and contrasted by crew members as they move from crew to crew, flight to flight, captain to captain.

Could we simply and clearly state it, walk it, discuss it, live it, be open to evolving it?

What is the culture you are creating for your ‘flight’?

Colin is also known as ‘The Listener’, a listening skills specialist and the ‘go-to’ person for individuals, teams and organisations, who want to be heard, think smarter, and transform their business and personal relationships through active listening. Contact him at colin.smith@dexteritysolutions.co.uk or find out more at www.dexteritysolutions.co.uk

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