The Denominator Is not Common

Vanessa Christie

By Vanessa Christie
Chief Executive Officer, Prevailance Aerospace

Posted on January 16, 2024
upset recovery training flight

When was the last time you identified the “goods” and “others” of any given event to improve efficiency and effectiveness? If it’s been a while, bring these words back into your daily routine. There is merit in shared experiences and the refinement of small nuances to create significant value. No organization or person in it is perfect.

Perfection is also not an attainable goal. There is a point where performance is raised to the highest possible level within any given organization, and effectiveness is the key attribute. Some organizations set goals to meet the attainable for the lowest common denominator or the lowest-level performer. This method creates challenges well beyond the scope of any given evolution and a mindset of pursuing lesser goals, which is never the best methodology for operational effectiveness.

Peers and Performance

Several years ago, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) addressed the concept of the people that surround us professionally and how each affects performance. Parents had the right idea when they encouraged their kids to spend time with smart peers.

Those smart kids help your kids explore more, aim for robust goals and further develop the as-is of today. The same concept applies to adults, where honest feedback supports progression into a highly different yet significantly better version of oneself.1

The organizations that internally review and highlight their strengths and weaknesses perform better than similar organizations that do not address the myriad little things. They prepare for every unlikely event on the ground or while airborne to set themselves up for success.

These organizations train together on a regular basis through tabletop exercises, simulators and airborne events. They debrief consistently with a keen eye on improving and striving for excellence. Each organization works toward clear, concise communications for efficient operations. Each department has controls in place to ensure the entire team is safe by mitigating risks along the way.

How to Assist Subpar Performers

What bears discussion is how these high-caliber organizations occasionally allow a subpar performer in their midst. Just one underperformer will pull an entire department down if the situation is not addressed directly and with the intent for immediate issue mitigation.

The lackluster performer has done the right thing to surround themself with high performers. However, there is a fine line between addressing and mitigating deficiencies and allowing the person to develop their skills with time and experience. Unfortunately, time and experience do not always improve an individual. Waiting can actually reinforce bad habits. Hope is not a strategy.

Counter to common belief, surrounding yourself with people similar to you is also not the best approach. Each of us needs colleagues who complement us, which is often hard to implement in a room full of Type A personalities who prefer being surrounded by similar minds.

“New research shows that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy; different kinds of people benefit from different kinds of networks. The key to building a performance-boosting network is to include people who support you in areas where your cognitive style is not naturally suited. Most people do just the opposite: they build networks that reinforce their existing strengths, rather than compensating for their weaknesses.”2

What would HBR say about the way to help your limited performer? Key points include a mix of people inside and outside your organization who can make a significant impact.

Regularly getting that individual beyond the confines of the work they typically do allows for “greater independence, a broader perspective with radically new horizons, as well as potential connections across both worlds which will benefit everyone.” 1 Only by encouraging that person to grow will they be able to meet the needs and objectives of the premier team that needs to grow.

Addressing Mediocre Performance Is Essential

Bottom line: Do not accept a mediocre performer and do not settle your effectiveness on the lowest common denominator. If that person is worth the investment—and they likely are as they already made their way into your organization—take the time to make them better both internally and externally.

Seek professionals who will define and subsequently close the gaps to benefit your organization. Turn your collective common denominator into exceptional.

This pilot challenges himself to take on the instructor role during an Upset Prevention & Recovery Training flight and instructs into and out of a spin airborne.

1 Fernández-Aráoz, C. (2018) The Key to Career Growth: Surround Yourself with People Who Will Push You. Harvard Business Review.

2 Carnabuci, G. & Quintane, E. (2023) Surround Yourself with Colleagues Who Boost Your Performance. Harvard Business Publishing Education.

Prevailance Aerospace Prevailance Aerospace
Prevailance Aerospace is a UPRT provider that has been working with corporate, government, and general aviation pilots to improve safety in the aviation industry. Prevailance Aerospace uses Extra 300 Series Aircraft for training and our pilots are experienced aviation professionals from various military and general aviation backgrounds. We know that successful aviation endeavors are accomplished through an uncompromising commitment to safety, impeccable professionalism, tremendous attention to detail, and constant improvement.

© 2024 Prevailance Aerospace. All Rights Reserved.

Related Posts

Unexpected Nose Low Upset

Three Considerations That Set Pilots Up for Success

Constantly reviewing aviation accidents and incidents is challenging. As an instructor, it is not only the injuries and fatalities that make it hard, but the sheer magnitude of avoidable aspects of each incident. These safety reports prove that every Pilot in Command (PIC) is accountable for what transpires.

Posted on June 3, 2024
aircraft flying through bad weather

Understanding the Challenge of Turbulence-Related Injuries in Business Aviation

The challenge of managing air turbulence in business and private aviation is becoming increasingly evident due to the growing number of turbulence-related incidents affecting aircraft operators across the industry.

Posted on April 3, 2024