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Flying high: pilot peer coaching to champion well-being and mitigate hazardous attitudes

Nick Goodwyn (Pilot Peer Assistance and Support Programmes, UK Civil Aviation Authority, London, UK)
Nick Beech (Department of Leadership, Governance and People Development, Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Bob Garvey (Department of Leadership, Governance and People Development, Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Jeff Gold (Department of Leadership, Governance and People Development, Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Richard Gulliford (Department of Leadership, Governance and People Development, Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Tricia Auty (Department of Leadership, Governance and People Development, Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Ali Sajjadi (Department of Leadership, Governance and People Development, Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Adalberto Arrigoni (Department of Leadership, Governance and People Development, Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Nehal Mahtab (Department of Management, Nottingham Trent University – City Campus, Nottingham, UK)
Simon Jones (Faculty of Business, School of Business Global Academic Foundation, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK)
Susan Beech (Department of Leadership, Governance and People Development, Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 12 December 2022

32

Abstract

Purpose

The “Germanwings” air crash in 2015 in which 150 people were killed highlighted the challenges pilots working in the aviation industry face. Pilots regularly work for extensive periods in inhospitable and high-pressure operational conditions, exposing them to considerable work-related stress. This has raised calls for a more systemic cultural change across the aviation industry, championing a more holistic perspective of pilot health and well-being. The study aims to explore how peer coaching (PC) can promote an inclusive psychosocial safety climate enhancing pilot well-being and can mitigate hazardous attitudes and dysfunctional behaviours.

Design/methodology/approach

Adopting an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), semi-structured interviews and questionnaires were conducted with military and civilian peer coach/coachee pilots and key industry stakeholders, totalling 39 participants. The research provided significant insights into the perceived value of PC in promoting both pilot health and mental well-being (MW) and flight safety across the aviation industry.

Findings

The study highlights four key PC superordinate themes, namely, coaching skills, significance of well-being, building of peer relationships and importance of confidentiality and autonomy. Such combined themes build reciprocal trust within peer conversations that can inspire engagement and effectively promote personal well-being. The contagious effect of such local interventions can help stimulate systemic cultural change and promote a positive psychosocial safety climate throughout an organisation and, in this case, across the aviation industry. This study provides a PC conceptual framework “Mutuality Equality Goals Autonomy Non-evaluative feedback, Skill Confidentiality Voluntary Supervisory (MEGANS CVS),” highlighting the salient features of PC in promoting MW.

Research limitations/implications

The study highlights the salient features of PC and its role in promoting peer conversations that enable personal transition, openness and acceptance. This study also highlights how PC and well-being can be used to encourage inclusivity and engagement, thereby strengthening institutional resilience.

Practical implications

This study highlights how PC that can assist HRM/HRD professionals to embed a more inclusive and salutogenic approach to MW that can reshape organisational cultures. This study highlights the significance and link of workplace stress to hazardous attitudes and dysfunctional behaviours. It further notes that whilst the MEGANS CVS peer coaching framework has been applied to pilots, it can also be applied across all sectors and levels.

Social implications

This study highlights the value of PC as an inexpensive means to engage at the grassroots level, which not only improves personal performance, safety and well-being but by building peer relationships can also act as a catalyst for positive and deep organisational cultural change.

Originality/value

This study offers the MEGANS CVS framework that exposes insights into PC practice that can assist HRM/HRD professionals embed a more inclusive and salutogenic approach to health and well-being that can reshape organisational cultures. This study highlights the significance and link of workplace stress to hazardous attitudes and dysfunctional behaviours, and whilst this framework has been applied to pilots, it can also have relevance across all sectors and levels. This study calls for a “salutogenic turn,” employing MW and PC to transform organisational capabilities to be more forward-thinking and solution-focused, promoting an inclusive “just culture” where leaders positively lead their people.

Keywords

Citation

Goodwyn, N., Beech, N., Garvey, B., Gold, J., Gulliford, R., Auty, T., Sajjadi, A., Arrigoni, A., Mahtab, N., Jones, S. and Beech, S. (2022), "Flying high: pilot peer coaching to champion well-being and mitigate hazardous attitudes", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJTD-09-2021-0136

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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