Could HR solve...? Top Gun

22 Aug 2019 By PM Editorial

Competition between fighter pilots has got out of hand, with tragic consequences

The problem

Miramar’s elite fighter school programme deliberately pits pilots ‘Maverick’ and ‘Iceman’ against each other in a race to be ranked best graduate and take home a prized workplace trophy. But their intense rivalry leads to reckless risk-taking – culminating in the death of Maverick’s co-pilot, Goose.

The solution

Highly pressured environments such as the military thrive on stoking employees’ egos. But a healthy level of competition needs to be tempered with an adherence to health and safety and an emphasis on teamwork. A ‘need for speed’ can lead to a negative dynamic, adds Richard Edge, senior HR and workforce consultant at ADQ and CEO of Careerships.

Miramar could tackle the issue by reframing pilots’ motivations and helping them view their workplace relationships more positively. “Maverick and Iceman need to be taken out of the working environment for a course that will completely break down their barriers,” says Edge. “Integrated psychological profiling and role play exercises could help ease the tension.”

It’s also worth looking at how star performers are being motivated and rewarded, adds Edge. Does the emphasis always have to be on individual achievement when airborne combat is often decided by collective effort? “Team-based performance-related pay could create a more harmonious atmosphere and unite everyone towards the same goals,” he advises.

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