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July 22, 2016 // Collaboration: Making It Work

This is part 2 of 5 in a series about collaboration.

As part of an effort to highlight collaboration, NATCA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have teamed up to create a video series on this crucial subject. NATCA President Paul Rinaldi, NATCA Safety Committee Chairman Steve Hansen, FAA Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Chief Operating Officer Teri Bristol, ATO Vice President of Safety and Technical Training Terry Biggio, and ATO Vice President of Air Traffic Services Tim Arel all appear in the second installment of the series, Making It Work.

In this latest video, collaboration is introduced as a “top-down” initiative that must be taken on by all employees at every facility. It cannot be an effort solely engaged in by the FacRep and Facility Manager. Every employee must make the effort to work together and better understand each other. Building this type of collaborative relationship ensures that when issues arise, there is a strong foundation to fall back on.

“When the hard times come and you have disagreements, because you will always have disagreements, it’s really the trust in the relationship that you’ve built that carries you through the hard times,” says Bristol.

Bristol added that disagreements do not equate to failure. Collaboration does not inherently mean that two parties will always come to a solution. What is important is to always be willing to engage in discourse and seek to find solutions together where possible.

“I think some people think the ultimate goal is to never have a disagreement and that’s the furthest thing from the facts,” Rinaldi explains in the video.

Rinaldi and Bristol discuss making collaboration work in the newest video installment.

Going into collaboration with a mindset that you are there to sit down and have meaningful conversation to better understand the other person or group’s position and then to attempt to reach a collaborative solution sets a positive collaborative framework in the workplace.

Biggio points out that conflict and struggle when it comes to collaboration is inevitable, citing the 50,000 flights a day, 14,000 air traffic controllers, and 4,000 managers operating within the air traffic system. He says that there are going to be day-to-day struggles but that employees should seek to identify what is causing tension within the working environment and gain clarity from listening to the other person’s perspective in order to move forward.

“It’s a difficult way to do business, but it’s the right way to do business, which creates a better product in the end,” Hansen adds.

The timing of these videos are perfect, as the success of NATCA-FAA collaboration is displayed once again with the new ATC/TMC/FSS/NOTAM contract, which was signed on July 14. Collaboration is named several times throughout the contract. It incorporates all of NATCA’s collaborative principles and processes and will provide stability for the workforce for the next six years. Collaboration is not simply a memorandum of understanding. It is a practice that has been fostered by NATCA and the FAA for the last five years that is now memorialized by the contract.

Watch the second installment today and check back in the NATCA Insider for the third installment, “Misconceptions About Collaboration.”

Watch the first installment: Introduction to Collaboration

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