- Well, you may actually say: a few years of hard work on a daily basis.
- That would be true, but I would like to outline a couple ideas which make aviation world so inspiring for other branches of industry in terms of compliance and quality management.
- Also, passing the detailed audit process with observations category ‘NIL’ is the best evidence that the organization performs its role properly, with attention to details and high overall working culture.
The audit process starts a couple of months before, with the specification of the auditing body. In case of ICAO4U, this is TM Civil Aviation Directorate. We were contacted in order to agree the date and place in which the audit would be conducted.
The first thing to bear in mind is that although the organization may work entirely online (as ICAO4U does), the audit is held in the real world: conversation, meeting, discussion, asking questions, addressing the issues, etc. The date was agreed three months in advance, April 18. Location: ICAO4U office in Birkirkara, Malta.
The scope of audit: everything. There was no specification of particular content of aditing process. When I asked our supervising body, the clear answer that landed in my e-mail box was:
‘Our inspectors shall inspect the office, look in depth at:
- how ICAO4U abides with TM CAD language body regulations,
- ICAO and EASA guidelines/ documents,
- how internal audits are conducted and how findings are dealt with.
- The review of internal meetings for risk assessment and safety review will be subject to inspection, plus
- qualification of assessors,
- test system,
- management system.’
Following the aforementioned, we had to send extensive sample of test recordings, for the evaluation of assessment efficiency and adherence to the standards.
The correspondence regarding financial settlements and accounts followed.
And finally, the analysis of the level of PEL Notices issued by TM CAD awareness level.
Each Authorised Training organization bears the responsibility for living up to the aforementioned standards and expectations. The individual responsibility rests upon Accountable Manager and Head of Testing/Training. The role which I perform within ICAO4U.
The Course of Audit
Our auditors, highly ranked aviation professionals arrived at our office at 8 a.m. As it is always the case in aviation, all the process was conducted with umost attention to details but in a friendly and very communicative manner. It was actually started with:
‘ You are doing a good job’.
And this facilitated openness.
The inspectors asked numerous questions in reference to every document we had shared with them. The great question-asking skills were evident as they always asked open questions followed with a few extension ones, depending on what I answered.
So they were most interested in motivation, reasons, drawing conclusions.
The feedback they gave was a mix of what they found in the documents and what anwers were provided by myself to the questions. The answers regarding the documents were as important as the documents content itself. All of this with meticulous approach, yet with ‘no-blame culture’. Each part was always concluded by the assessors with the assurance of readiness to assist and no limitations for sharing knowledge and experience.
In the aviation world it is not enough to keep order in the documents. Of coure, it’s a must. But you need to show awareness, discipline and humbleness. Readiness to discuss and accept constant questioning and challenging of your way of thinking or methodology of work.
Inspirations and conclusions
Something which may be very inspiring for every manager and team leader:
- One of the first lines of the auditors at the meeting was: ‘Szymon, let’s talk about the whole process at ICAO4U. What actually happens between the moment some aviation personnel contacts you for the first time, and the moment when they get the certificate. Everything: how you contact them within the process, how they register, what information they get, tell us about the test in detail, assessment process.’
Why I find it interesting? Because all these details are featured in the Examination Manual which is the basic document needed for the certification of the Authorised Training Organization. But my on-the-spur-of-the-moment presentation, the course of which was kindly interrupted with extension questions, added great communication flavour to the audit. This stage took over one hour. And I believe, it was one of the most significat ones for the final positive result. Not just the documents, not just the process evidence but the conversation. The questions asked in a friendly, unassuming manner but with attention to detail, analysis and conclusion or opinion sharing.
- Real curiosity of auditors and readiness to acquire new perspective.
As a linguist, I am particularly interested in the anthropology of communication, and common features that all languages share across the world. As the author of ICAO4U testing content, I decided to incorporate in the examination material the original approach to verify question asking skills of aviation personnel. This raised auditor’s curiosity, and they started asking in-depth questions about how the structure of asking questions varies among languages of the world, and what kind of influence it might exert on communication efficiency and effectiveness in aviation.
- Appreciation of interdisciplinary character of our approach.
Aviation has been one of the first sectors to notice the value of interdisciplinary approach, which prevents the specialists from staying mentally closed in a box. That’s why it is highly appreciated when the specialists from aviation and other professional realms share their approach and competence.
And finally, on a personal line. The clearly expressed appreciation of passion for work and performance. For openness in communication throughout the certification process, the first year of running the tests, and audit process. I do believe that it is this mix of utmost attention to regulatory details and aprreciation of enthusiasm for work and development which makes aviation so inspiring for other industries.