Stressful situations can happen in any job. Among junior to mid-level simulator engineers short-term stress is more common than long-term as the position do not involve long-term planning and responsibilities. Yet, even the short-term stress can cause sufficient amount of disruption and become overwhelming.
A good manager should try and understand better the factors that might cause stress and reduce their contingency. Also, he or she should be well prepared to deal with sudden stress-causing situations.
If a head of the department notices his/hers engineers to be irritated, unable to focus on a task they are performing, erratically jumping from task to task and from though to though, and significantly increased amount of movement, most likely the employees are experiencing stress that needs to be addressed.
UNDERSTANDING THE CAUSES
Stress can occur while dealing with daily routine tasks yet more often it is caused by simulator critical failures. The latter are normally rare, yet because of its infrequency the stress levels are higher. If the simulator is not in use at the moment of the spotted failure, the stress levels are lower. If it is fully booked and in use, then the pressure from the flight crew, administration, and training managers increases the stress levels that engineers experience. The situation gets worse when flight crew start bugging the engineers asking when the simulator will be fixed. “Quite often it is impossible to answer to that question because first of all the reason for the failure must be defined and repair time and resources evaluated,” says A.Bartkevicius, Head of Simulator Department at Baltic Aviation Academy.
Stress factors can also occur due to lack of engineer’s confidence in one’s abilities. If an employee does not feel competent to perform a task or solve problems, the stress level rises. This particularly applies to engineers with some experience as a person who worked on similar projects before is better capable of evaluating the consequences of mistakes and errors.
A possibility of injuries is another reason that causes stress. Working with full flight simulators, the injuries can be mechanic (cuts, bruises, tensed muscles, etc.), caused by chemicals, or it can be an electrostatic discharge. Understanding the variety of possibilities how engineers might get injured, can also significantly affect the overall emotional atmosphere.
1. Human resource management. When two or more people are working together, the level of responsibility as well as stress divides between them. Also, it would be best to pair up engineers evaluating their experience, knowledge and level of competencies. The less experienced engineers will always feel better working along an experienced colleague. In addition, and experienced engineer will feel more capable at handling task if he will have a younger colleague obeying the orders rather than questioning every single decisions and requesting supporting arguments.
2. Secure proper working conditions. Things like good tools, gloves, overalls or other needed equipment including safety measures will make the employees feel more confident at work. For example, if the screw driver is old and worn, and it is difficult to use it, the whole task might cause irritation for an engineer.
3. Time management. This entails engineers’ working schedules as well as amortization times between the simulator engagement slots. For first, engineers work schedule should be organized in quite flexible manner to eliminate or accordingly minimize at least the need to re-schedule engineers work time completely if little change should be involved e.g. one engineer takes vacations. Secondly, and adequate time between the flight slots enables an engineer to prepare the simulator for the next sessions and gives a delay margin for the earlier crew without affecting the next one.
4. Have a proper leader for ad hoc situations. When attempting to quickly solve stressful situations, a proper leader is inevitable. It should be the person capable to control situation: providing precise instructions on the spot, organizing tasks and allocating them to the available resources, e.g. one engineer is given an order to bring the toolbox, the other – to read scan particular chapters of the manual looking for the instructions, the third – to inform the training managers about the situation and potential delays. It is crucial for all these tasks to be done simultaneously, and the orders to be precise, specific, and easy to complete. Workflow organization enables engineers to feel more confident about the situation and thus significantly reduces the stress levels.