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Starlionblue
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Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:18 am

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I saw in another thread that Virgin America will be using a merit based system for pilot promotion/upgrade system as opposed to the seniority based system traditionally used in the USA. I wanted to hear some opinions and thoughts on this, and of the overall characteristics of the systems.

The following is my layman's understanding.

Seniority based:
- Primarily in the USA/North America.
- Encourages loyalty to the airline since seniority goes away if you leave and you have to start over at the bottom.
- If the airline liquidates or lays you off for other reason you are toast.
- May encourage less ambitious job performance since seniority is the only thing that counts.
- Crews spend a lot of time peering at bid sheets.

Merit based:
- Primarily outside the USA/North America.
- Encourages airlines to have a good working environment since pilots can go somewhere else.
- Promotion based on pilot ability (including ability to work in a team). Thus encourages improvement.
- Airlines can hire experienced pilots and not "waste" them flying F/O in a freighter full of dogs*** out of Honk Kong.
- Crews spend time reading the paper instead of peering at bid sheets.


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fr8mech
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:37 am

I'm a fan of merit based systems, but seniority does need to count for something. It needs to be in the equation. But, it doesn't need to be a major portion.

Now are we talking for pay raises, vacation bids, seats, routes, etc?

Of course, you'll have massive resistance from unions. Seniority is the holy grail. Nothing more important.

So, what will be the measure? On-time departures? Fuel savings? Peer evaluations? 360 evaluations? Attendance? All of the above? In what proportions?

This will be interesting to watch.

[Edited 2007-07-25 23:39:56]
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SlamClick
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:44 am

Ernest K. Gann said that the seniority system was an insult to all but the weakest of pilots.

However...

We all know that "merit" is potentially a very subjective call. ("Great job Brownie!")

Within the U.S. union seniority systems, selection for managerial positions like chief pilot and his assistants or training/check airmen are often crony-intensive. They are only rescued by the fact that even the mediocre pilots at a major airline are pretty good people. For a merit system to win my vote it would have to have a very transparent and utterly objective architecture.
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fr8mech
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:06 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 2):
For a merit system to win my vote it would have to have a very transparent and utterly objective architecture.

That's the problem, isn't it. Merit will be subjective. I really don't know what measure can be used to measure performance in a pilot that is objective.
When seconds count...the police are minutes away.
 
InnocuousFox
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:09 am

Seniority encourages people to simply be "just good enough" to not get fired - and then you get an automatic raise! Wonder why the unions love them?  sarcastic 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:09 am

As i see it, the strength of a merit based system is that it encourages good performance as opposed to doing time. The weakness of a merit based system is the difficulty in evaluating fairly.

Quoting Fr8Mech (Reply 1):
I'm a fan of merit based systems, but seniority does need to count for something. It needs to be in the equation. But, it doesn't need to be a major portion.

Agreed. But in many merit based systems you do have some sort of rank mechanism to skew the equation. Rank is merit based but there is a minimum time in rank before you can reach the next rank. So those with higher rank do have an advantage. But you require time AND merit for promotion. Time alone won't get you there. And if you are very good you will rise faster.

The military and investment banks are examples.

Quoting Fr8Mech (Reply 1):

So, what will be the measure? On-time departures? Fuel savings? Peer evaluations? 360 evaluations? Attendance? All of the above? In what proportions?

Management and peer review I think are the only ways in professional organizations. These should be based on a variety of factors from interpersonal skill to piloting skill. It is important to explicitly require evaluation on a decently large number of factors to ensure fairness. Completely eliminating personal bias is impossible of course.

At my wife's job (not aviation related), for instance, you are peer reviewed twice a year. Your boss leads the evaluation but is also required to "invite" other managers and your peers to evaluate you. Once a year, promotions and bonuses are set. These are largely based on the reviews. About 20 factors are taken into account, from technical knowledge to management skill. Sure, knowing people is a factor, but that's inescapable.

Quoting InnocuousFox (Reply 4):
Seniority encourages people to simply be "just good enough" to not get fired - and then you get an automatic raise! Wonder why the unions love them?

This kind of behavior is even more rampant for F/As since their skillset is not as technically advanced nor as thoroughly tested as a pilot's. Lots of F/As in the US would have been out on their backsides in Europe and Asia. However, I do believe in motivation. If you have some incentive to do better (for example promotion, higher pay and better routes) and some incentive not to do worse (redundancy) even most "naturally lazy" people will work harder. It works in a lot of industries.

[Edited 2007-07-26 00:12:55]
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Mir
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:13 am

I like the idea of merit-based promotion in principle, but there is the important question of what makes good performance? What you certainly don't want is pilots busting minimums so that their on-time record looks better.

-Mir
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Blackbird
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:19 am

I got a question...

When a pilot gets say two weeks vacation, you're saying that the Airline decides where the guy can and cannot go to? (If he payed for it himself I mean)

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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:23 am

Quoting Blackbird (Reply 7):
I got a question...

When a pilot gets say two weeks vacation, you're saying that the Airline decides where the guy can and cannot go to? (If he payed for it himself I mean)

Andrea Kent

Seniority only dictates who gets first choice at vacation time,otherwise it is their time to do what they want where they want
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:40 am

Quoting Fr8Mech (Reply 1):
On-time departures? Fuel savings? Peer evaluations? 360 evaluations? Attendance? All of the above? In what proportions?

And that in itself opens a Pandora's Box of problems..."come on dammit we got to out of here on time..", "let me show you how to save 500lb, we'll stay at 10,000' and tell app control we can make the marker ok", "surely you know he's a marine!, (attendance) "yea I know I've got a fever but I can't miss this trip.."....BS

Quoting Starlionblue (Thread starter):
May encourage less ambitious job performance since seniority is the only thing that counts.

The airline and the FAA set up the criterior for sim rides, line chks, etc. As long as you perform to THEIR requirements you have a job...What would you prefer..."OK Joe this is an eng. out, hand flown app to 200'....if you want to go for it we can fail no. 2 and hand fly it to 100' for 20 extra points....what dya say, ya feel lucky?" Other than a gamble like that what COULD/WOULD be better? "hey joe you're hand flown to 100' deviated only 20' on the G/S you just out performed capt. XXX who had 27'!

Quoting Starlionblue (Thread starter):
Airlines can hire experienced pilots and not "waste" them flying F/O in a freighter full of dogs*** out of Honk Kong.

Oh that hurts...man all this time I thought I had a good job...

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 5):
The weakness of a merit based system is the difficulty in evaluating fairly.

Of course, you don't think there's not cliques in flight mgt., trg, etc??

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 2):
Within the U.S. union seniority systems, selection for managerial positions like chief pilot and his assistants or training/check airmen are often crony-intensive. They are only rescued by the fact that even the mediocre pilots at a major airline are pretty good people.

Very true ...most guys/gals do try very hard and are very conscienious, of course the 5% slugs always play it safe or hang out in the right seat. I can't imagine a system that say would reflect golf or tennis ratings where you move up OR down weekly...."yea you moved up this month but I'll get you back next chk ride!"
I just can't see how you could take say 5000 pilots and really do that fairly. I've talked to enough foreign airline pilots to know that no system is totally fair and it's like picking a contract apart piece by piece..."yea they got this but ohhh look at that!"

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 5):
Completely eliminating personal bias is impossible of course.



Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 5):
Sure, knowing people is a factor, but that's inescapable.

And this will work with 5000 pilots (not 20 office execs)...uhh, I rest my case.
 
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:24 am

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 9):

And this will work with 5000 pilots (not 20 office execs)...uhh, I rest my case.

My wife's bank employs around 80000 people, all evaluated the way I described. It's not impossible.

Also, I think the fact that merit based systems do exist at airlines around the world is an indicator of their viability in the wild.

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 9):

And that in itself opens a Pandora's Box of problems..."come on dammit we got to out of here on time..", "let me show you how to save 500lb, we'll stay at 10,000' and tell app control we can make the marker ok", "surely you know he's a marine!, (attendance) "yea I know I've got a fever but I can't miss this trip.."....BS

Very true.


I think that as usual bad management can screw things up for people regardless of the actual "system". And vice versa good management makes for a good working environment no matter what.
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HAWK21M
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:08 pm

A topic which was debated last week at work during our break.Out here the trend is Seniority based promotions rather than Performance based ones.
Im in favour of the Performance based promotions,unfortunately with the existing system,a person capable has to start at the bottom of the ladder even if the senior man above is inefficient.

regds
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Starlionblue
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:18 pm

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 11):
Im in favour of the Performance based promotions,unfortunately with the existing system,a person capable has to start at the bottom of the ladder even if the senior man above is inefficient.

Indeed. Nevertheless I'm not necessarily against "starting at the bottom" in some cases. As long as there is a route for promotion past your "inefficient senior man".

On the other hand, I think it's a bit absurd that a Captain with 30 years of experience and a very good reputation suddenly has to start from scratch at a new company. By rights other airlines should be seeking this guy out and offering him a good job. He is a valuable asset to the organization. At least that's the way it works in other companies. If another bank offers my wife a job (as happens from time to time) they hardly expect her to go back to junior whipping boy (where she originally started). They tend to offer a position senior to the one she has now.
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:20 pm

Right now you need te senoirty to hold a captain's bid and the merit to pass the checkride. I wouldn't do much diffrent if it was purely merit based, except maybe hold a grudging suspison that the most junior upgrades were brown nosing managment pawns.
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Ralgha
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 4:59 pm

Some of you seem to think that "good enough" is good enough for pilots.

I've flown with captains in the simulator, that, had we been in the actual airplane, they would have scared the crap out of me. Some of them couldn't hand fly a single-engine ILS to save their life (yet somehow they manage to pass the check, figure that one out).

I've flown with captains who couldn't read the performance data section of the release to figure out if we could land with the advertised tail wind or not.

I've encountered captains who thought a generator wasn't working because they didn't know how to read the ammeter.

All these people manage to be "good enough" to pass the periodic check-rides, but do you really think they're safe? If I was the FO with one of these captains, I wouldn't let them kill me, captain's authority or not, but what about when you pair them with someone who doesn't know better?
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Starlionblue
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:10 pm

Quoting Ralgha (Reply 14):
Some of you seem to think that "good enough" is good enough for pilots.

I've flown with captains in the simulator, that, had we been in the actual airplane, they would have scared the crap out of me. Some of them couldn't hand fly a single-engine ILS to save their life (yet somehow they manage to pass the check, figure that one out).

I've flown with captains who couldn't read the performance data section of the release to figure out if we could land with the advertised tail wind or not.

I've encountered captains who thought a generator wasn't working because they didn't know how to read the ammeter.

All these people manage to be "good enough" to pass the periodic check-rides, but do you really think they're safe? If I was the FO with one of these captains, I wouldn't let them kill me, captain's authority or not, but what about when you pair them with someone who doesn't know better?

In your opinion, would peer review have ensured these "dangerous" pilots stayed out of the cockpit until they learned? It seems that a seniority based system would protect these individuals while in a merit based system including peer review they would not have a job.
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InnocuousFox
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:11 pm

Quoting Ralgha (Reply 14):
All these people manage to be "good enough" to pass the periodic check-rides, but do you really think they're safe?

And yet the union will defend them to the end.
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Jetlagged
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:42 pm

Pilot seniority protects the mediochre time servers. When I first came across it in Ernest K Gann's books I was surprised the concept existed in the old days, let alone today. It was a discredited system in the days of Nelson with Captains and Admirals being given command on the basis of their place on the "Post List", not their competence. Just a huge pecking order in fact.

It also creates huge difficulties when airlines merge, or one airline takes over another. Usually one airline's pilots feel they have been dealt with unfairly at the expense of the other, often losing all seniority they had. Without rigid seniority numbers, hard done by pilots could at least feel they had the opportunity to prove themselves at their next assessment.

Performance measurements should be by objective assessment in controlled situations like simulator check rides. Experience in grade should also count (i.e. hours at their current rank). To use measures like on time performance, where so many other factors come into play, would only encourage dangerous shortcuts.

Seniority is OK when there are lots of pilot jobs and pilots can choose to go to join an airline with a shorter queue. With a shortage of jobs, it's just a job protection mechanism (last in, first out) and a log jam on fair promotion. Overall it seems to me, as a non-pilot, a very inflexible system to work under.

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 2):
Within the U.S. union seniority systems, selection for managerial positions like chief pilot and his assistants or training/check airmen are often crony-intensive.

Therein lies the tale. It's a union driven thing. Where unions are not strong seniority could not exist. Unions traditionally are not in favour of performance based promotion. However even in merit based systems, the people who want to go for the management positions are often not the best people, merely the power hungry. The people who want to have control over their peers usually are not the best to do so. I've met exceptions to this rule, especially in smaller or more dynamic airlines.
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PGNCS
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:39 pm

Quoting Fr8Mech (Reply 3):
Quoting SlamClick (Reply 2):
For a merit system to win my vote it would have to have a very transparent and utterly objective architecture.

That's the problem, isn't it. Merit will be subjective. I really don't know what measure can be used to measure performance in a pilot that is objective.

Certainly the ones management will want to use are not aligned best with safety: on time operation, fuel savings, lowest number of diverts, volunteering to clean up the office on off days, etc. OK, that last one isn't a safety issue, but the groveling factor could play very high in promotions. Yes-men do, in fact, frequently get promoted above their actual level of expertise.

Quoting InnocuousFox (Reply 4):
Seniority encourages people to simply be "just good enough" to not get fired - and then you get an automatic raise! Wonder why the unions love them?

You say that, but provide no proof. I have to pass a checkride and a medical twice a year no matter what kind of system of promotion I have over me. In either if I'm sick or I can't fly, I'm gone.

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 5):
So, what will be the measure? On-time departures? Fuel savings? Peer evaluations? 360 evaluations? Attendance? All of the above? In what proportions?

Management and peer review I think are the only ways in professional organizations. These should be based on a variety of factors from interpersonal skill to piloting skill. It is important to explicitly require evaluation on a decently large number of factors to ensure fairness. Completely eliminating personal bias is impossible of course.

You bring up peer review, and that is an excellent and thoughtful point. Peer review is a step toward making the system less prone to the bad effects of cronyism, but as long as there is a manager at the end of the line making the final decision, like you say, eliminating bias is impossible.

Quoting Mir (Reply 6):
I like the idea of merit-based promotion in principle, but there is the important question of what makes good performance? What you certainly don't want is pilots busting minimums so that their on-time record looks better.

Yes, and this is a HUGE issue. I think this system will ultimately be the biggest impetus for VA to get a union, if they last that long.

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 9):
Quoting Fr8Mech (Reply 1):
On-time departures? Fuel savings? Peer evaluations? 360 evaluations? Attendance? All of the above? In what proportions?

And that in itself opens a Pandora's Box of problems..."come on dammit we got to out of here on time..", "let me show you how to save 500lb, we'll stay at 10,000' and tell app control we can make the marker ok", "surely you know he's a marine!, (attendance) "yea I know I've got a fever but I can't miss this trip.."....BS

You have never been more on the mark. This is a huge issue, and there will be problems like this. With the VA operation using A-320s on transcons, fuel diversions may be common. Let's hope they are as common as they should be.

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 2):
Ernest K. Gann said that the seniority system was an insult to all but the weakest of pilots.

And Ernest Gann hasn't been flying in a while either.
 
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 12:41 am

Quoting Ralgha (Reply 14):
I've flown with captains in the simulator, that...

I see by your profile that your occupation is "captain" and your age is 21-25. Since you also say you have an ATP we can narrow it down to 23-25. This means that wherever you are serving as a captain you achieved that position with two years seniority or less. (assuming that most airlines would not even grant an interview to a person who did not already have an ATP)

Can we therefore conclude that you are not talking about American, Delta, Northwest, USAirways, United or some such "major" airline?

I can tell you that in forty years as a professional pilot, 26 of which were at some place with "airlines" in the company name I never saw the poor performance levels you describe out on the line. In any pilot population there is logically going to be "one of the best" and "one of the worst" in skills and judgement. Bell curves are, by nature, symmetrical. I knew of one captain at a major airline who amassed a large file of first officer complaints regarding his abilities. Every time he went to the sim, they worked him as hard as the law allowed. I'm not sure I could have passed the checkrides they threw at him and I'm pretty damn good.  Smile Thing is, there are actual written standards to which a pilot must perform or they DO NOT PASS. He always managed to pass but finally they did something to persuade him to take an early retirement. Problem solved.

Now, if you are saying that your company passes these guys anyway, you need to protect your own life and reputation and get out of there. The Feds need to know about this!

There seems to be a lot of misconception about what a seniority system does.

What it does NOT do is guarantee that when you reach X years of service you are a captain. The standards never change, not at the real airlines. Every PC in the simulator is an ATP checkride in your type airplane. With FOQA and other programs in place we are "spied upon" in the everyday performance of our duties. There is almost zero chance of an incompetent still being in the left (or even right) seat at a major airline. They just get weeded out along the way in an ever-finer seive.

Seniority, at most, dictates when you can get the opportunity to become a captain. It also drives our domiciles, work schedules, vacation schedules, and various other preferences, none of which should be done by "peer review" or any other such bureaucratic method. It is about as fair as can be for all these purposes and therefore would have to be retained even if upgrade was no longer offered on seniority.

So if you are thinking that "seniority" means the unworthy get to be captain automatically, get that idea out of your head. It is far from reality.

Lots of misconceptions about what ALPA is too. In my mind it is a weak excuse for a labor union, more comparable with SAG than with the Machinists or the Teamsters. But any union is nothing but a middleman company that sells labor to consumers of labor and all deals are resolved to be most favorable to union leadership.

ALPA is a pilot's advocate in conflicts with the company but they will never weaken their power by pushing a bad position. If a pilot screwed up, he can expect the usual consequences. ALPA will guarantee that due process is served but in the end, there are FARs and Company policies and they are usually pretty clear-cut. I've never known ALPA to go out on a limb to rescue a pilot who has exercised really bad judgement or skills, or who has lied on his application for the job (they'll be the first to throw you to the wolves here!) Even in cases of alcohol or drug abuse (if the latter ever happens) they will, at most, guarantee that the procedures already in place are followed.

What ALPA would never, ever do is force an airline to put an unqualified pilot into the left seat. The airline has a legal department that would also be opposed to such a thing.
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charlienorth
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:37 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 19):
What ALPA would never, ever do is force an airline to put an unqualified pilot into the left seat.

Professional Standards...everywhere I've worked the seniority vs. merit comes up and I have worked for union and non-union companies,all have worked with the "seniority rules" policy,the one kicker in the mechanic agreements and I'm sure the pilots have in theirs is "senior MOST QUALIFIED bidder"and I have seen people turned down because it was known that they were a mope,when they grieved it ,it did not go very far, IMO seniority is the best way to go,there are too many politicians and brown nosers,also how do you rate merit for a pilot of mechanic..he's never crashed an airplane so he must be good?? He saves fuel? He will fly any piece of junk we give him? He signs everything off and never has a MX delay?
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:03 am

Quoting Charlienorth (Reply 20):

Well, you are exactly right. Introducing "evaluation" into the process opens the door for all kinds of mischief.

In places other than the majors, I've seen just a few licensed professionals whose sigature was "for sale" and in exchange for their position, would sign off on just about anything. Really bad example: A fractured casting on a jetliner main landing gear, clearly a grounding condition. Captain sees it, refuses to fly the plane. Director of maintenance charters a small jet to fly himself to that city, smears grease over the crack and signs off the plane as airworthy. Director of operations calls in a captain known for his casual standards and they neglect to tell him about the other captain turning down the plane. When he gets to destination he discovers what was done. The dirtbag company loved the maintenance guy who signed it off and the ops guy who was willing to put an unsuspecting pilot on the job. Loved them! Of course the company soon lost its certificate and the mechanic and pilot in question lost theirs.

This is an extreme example and would not be likely to occur today, but it is an example of what can happen when the company alone controls promotion and other benefits.

Against this sort of thing, consider the down side of seniority. Nowhere that I've even known about was seniority ALONE enough to get the upgrade. One has always had to be able to perform.
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SlamClick
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:08 am

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 18):
Ernest Gann hasn't been flying in a while either.

He also argued in defense of his contemporary, Charles Sisto.
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charlienorth
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 3:37 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 22):
He also argued in defense of his contemporary, Charles Sisto.

Ah yes Captain Control Lock!!
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 3:49 am

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 17):
It was a discredited system in the days of Nelson with Captains and Admirals being given command on the basis of their place on the "Post List", not their competence. Just a huge pecking order in fact.

Promiotion to Admiral was for life and there were limited spots. Captaincy was another matter. Becoming a commanding officer was often a matter of being in the right place at the right time. First Lieutenant on a ship where the Captain was killed in action, for example. Becoming Post Captain ("permanent Captain") was most often achieved through political connections or distinguished service in battle.

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 18):
You bring up peer review, and that is an excellent and thoughtful point. Peer review is a step toward making the system less prone to the bad effects of cronyism, but as long as there is a manager at the end of the line making the final decision, like you say, eliminating bias is impossible.

Eliminating bias is indeed impossible, but I still think merit is the way to go in principle.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:08 am

Quoting Charlienorth (Reply 20):
He signs everything off and never has a MX delay?

I too have worked in places where those were promoted and shown as "example", who would take the highest risk and sign off stuff nobody else wanted to sign for. Or in other places, those guys who were drinking buddies of the manager.

Jan

[Edited 2007-07-26 21:09:33]
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lowrider
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:27 am

I have worked under seniority and I have worked under merit. I prefer seniority. Say what you want about my skills or merit as a worker, but try working under a safety critical system where refusing to take a flight can cost you a raise, or even get get a more reckless person promoted ahead of you. Seniority (to a certain extent) frees you up to exercise good judgement, even if it is not in the company's immediate interest. I have had flight followers try to convince me to take certain flights with the arguement that while it is not legal, "it will probably be ok". A Captain needs to be able to say no to that sort of pressure without worrying about making next month's rent. Of course, my telling that flight follower if they thought it was "good enough", to go out and fly it themselves probably had something to do with why I did't get a raise that year.
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HAWK21M
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:47 am

Quoting Charlienorth (Reply 20):
He signs everything off and never has a MX delay?

The Guys that Go by the rules are normally the Unpopular ones with Mgmt  Sad
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
LMP737
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:58 am

Quoting InnocuousFox (Reply 16):
And yet the union will defend them to the end.

That is their job technically. A union does not have a choice on who they represent. They have to represent all their members to the best of their ability. If they were not to do so a union member could come back and sue them.

In my years I've seen the problems with the seniority based system. Some guys think that if they have a certain number of years they can get away with doing as little as possible. Or when they do work they think they can get away with being sloppy. That's because they are under the impression that since they are in a union they're invincible. However they are mistaken to think so. Management is not stupid. They know who goes out and does their job and those that try and get away with doing as little as possible. If you have a good reputation and you make a mistake they are more likely to either look the other way or give you slap on the wrist. On the other hand if you're part of that other group they will be waiting in the shadows to pounce on you when you screw up. I've seen it happen before.
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Starlionblue
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:59 am

Quoting Lowrider (Reply 26):
Seniority (to a certain extent) frees you up to exercise good judgement, even if it is not in the company's immediate interest.

Very true. Same argument as non elected officials. The Lords in the UK never needs to worry about re-election and thus can make decisions more or less uninfluenced by public opinion. In a perfect world this allows them to take unpopular decisions that are nevertheless beneficial in the long run.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Blackbird
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:45 am

The one problem with merit-based is that precise definetions must exist as to what is "merit". Being friends with the president of the company shouldn't count as merit.

See what I mean?

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Jetlagged
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:50 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 24):
Captaincy was another matter. Becoming a commanding officer was often a matter of being in the right place at the right time. First Lieutenant on a ship where the Captain was killed in action, for example. Becoming Post Captain ("permanent Captain") was most often achieved through political connections or distinguished service in battle.

Once "made post" you were on the list (maybe "on the beach" too, but on the list). That's the kind of captain I meant. A lieutenant in command of a small vessel had the courtesy title of captain, but that was not his rank. Similarly a lieutenant taking over from a captain killed in action and doing well at it, might expect a command subsequently, but not the rank of captain unless he had, as you say, good connections.
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Starlionblue
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:31 am

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 31):

Once "made post" you were on the list (maybe "on the beach" too, but on the list). That's the kind of captain I meant. A lieutenant in command of a small vessel had the courtesy title of captain, but that was not his rank. Similarly a lieutenant taking over from a captain killed in action and doing well at it, might expect a command subsequently, but not the rank of captain unless he had, as you say, good connections.

Indeed. Those in command who were not Post Captains usually held the rank of Commander. This rank was fickle. Being a Commander did not mean you stayed in that rank if you subsequently did not hold command. But you could still be a Captain who had not made post if you had been promoted but not yet assigned to command of a ship. As you say, Post Captains were then promoted by seniority.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Mir
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 3:17 pm

Quoting Lowrider (Reply 26):
I have had flight followers try to convince me to take certain flights with the arguement that while it is not legal, "it will probably be ok". A Captain needs to be able to say no to that sort of pressure without worrying about making next month's rent.

 checkmark  One tries to elliminate external pressures as much as you can, as they rarely fail to adversely affect safety. Pilots are of course human, and one can never completely get rid of them, but it makes no sense for an airline to put that kind of pressure on the captain of an airplane with passengers aboard.

-Mir
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NKP S2
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:32 pm

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 28):
In my years I've seen the problems with the seniority based system. Some guys think that if they have a certain number of years they can get away with doing as little as possible. Or when they do work they think they can get away with being sloppy. That's because they are under the impression that since they are in a union they're invincible. However they are mistaken to think so. Management is not stupid. They know who goes out and does their job and those that try and get away with doing as little as possible. If you have a good reputation and you make a mistake they are more likely to either look the other way or give you slap on the wrist. On the other hand if you're part of that other group they will be waiting in the shadows to pounce on you when you screw up. I've seen it happen before.


 checkmark 

[Edited 2007-07-27 11:33:26]
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:26 pm

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 28):
In my years I've seen the problems with the seniority based system. Some guys think that if they have a certain number of years they can get away with doing as little as possible. Or when they do work they think they can get away with being sloppy. That's because they are under the impression that since they are in a union they're invincible. However they are mistaken to think so. Management is not stupid. They know who goes out and does their job and those that try and get away with doing as little as possible. If you have a good reputation and you make a mistake they are more likely to either look the other way or give you slap on the wrist. On the other hand if you're part of that other group they will be waiting in the shadows to pounce on you when you screw up. I've seen it happen before.

Good points. I will not that your "Management is not stupid" statement goes for both systems. That is, I think the dangers of systemic bias favoring brown-nosers is overblown. Management is overall not stupid and good management sees the well being of the organization as an important goal. This includes safe operation.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
NKP S2
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Sat Jul 28, 2007 1:42 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 35):
That is, I think the dangers of systemic bias favoring brown-nosers is overblown. Management is overall not stupid and good management sees the well being of the organization as an important goal. This includes safe operation.

I have to disagree there. Of course, in a perfect world, everyone ostensibly wants a safe operation, but the stats ( numbers! numbers! numbers! ) often go from just a side statistic to having a life of their own, leading to the pressure to "move metal", with them somehow thinking that just because a safety mission and governing bodies exist, it'll just happen....or at the very least, they can point to the existence of some mission statement as all the proof of good faith they'll need.

I have also seen some places ( and heard from others ) where the guy with the ready pen is liked more than the super conscientious guy with the sharp mind. Even though they don't hold the guy with the quick pen who moves the metal in high proffessional regard ( though they're often liked personally ) they know he's a quick "fix" that'll keep the high brass at bay.....and make the numbers look good....till the next "crisis".

I like merit from a philosophical background, but the pragmatist in me says seniority is the best way.

[Edited 2007-07-27 18:47:44]
 
jhooper
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:52 pm

Seniority is not a perfect system, but it is a way better than a so-called "merit-based" system. For one, it guarantees that the more experienced pilots are in the left seat. Also, it allows the captains to share their knowledge and experience with the first officers without having fear of competing with those copilots in future promotions. How well would you train your subordinates if you knew you were ultimately training your own replacement? Besides, by the time you're in the big leagues, there is little differentiation among qualified pilots. They're either safe, or they're not. The either meet the tough standards and do their job well, or they don't. And if they don't meet the standards, they'll soon be forced to find another calling before they're even in a position to upgrade. It's not really a matter of letting them sit in the right seat if they're not up to par. At least a seniority system gives pilots enough opportunities to screw up before you really do let them assume command. A "merit" system allowing a less experienced pilot in the left seat opens the door to brown nosing or otherwise manipulating the system in an unfair way. Seniority is, at least, completely objective and manipulation-proof. Let's say a "merit" system was tied to checkride performance. Pilot A with 8000 hours and 10 years with the airline earns 3 downgrades on his checkride with a hardass evaluator. Pilot B with 1500 hours and 6 months with the airline earns 2 downgrades on his checkride with a Santa Claus evaluator. Pilot B happened to do slightly better on this checkride, but I know who I'd rather have in the captain's seat. As far as looking at other things such as "on time performance", it's like comparing apples to oranges because there are so many factors outside the pilot's control that drives these metrics it's neither a fair evaluation. Finally, if you as a FO, have run the gauntlet enough times to not get weeded out by the time a captain's seat opens up, chances are you're ready for it.
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HAWK21M
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Sun Jul 29, 2007 3:40 am

Quoting Jhooper (Reply 37):
Seniority is not a perfect system, but it is a way better than a so-called "merit-based" system.

The Merit based system always tends to have disapointed people.
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
NKP S2
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Sun Jul 29, 2007 3:44 am

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 38):
The Merit based system always tends to have disapointed people.

So does the seniority based system...........

Not sure of the gist of your point, but I'm thinking you're implying that disappointed = malcontents? ( sore losers? )
 
CosmicCruiser
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Sun Jul 29, 2007 5:26 am

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 38):
The Merit based system always tends to have disapointed people.

I had a long and probably rambling post that I've looked at for days but just decided to delete it and post this simple little thing. I remember in the 70s working for a large corp dept. and they(chief pilot) went "outside" to hire a capt. when we added a new jet. Every f/o was pissed! The feeling was "why should I give a rat's a** if I'm not going to have a shot at the left seat"! At least with senority it's simple, "I was here before you so I get (if I choose) the opportunity to move/upgrade before you". If I don't/can't perform then I suffer the consequences whether it's a seat freeze or ultimately termination and now you get your shot at it. Good luck and study hard
 
turnit56N
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Sun Jul 29, 2007 10:37 am

I've worked in both types of companies and they each have their place. At a small, honest company with a lot of management-pilot contact merit can work quite well. At one small company I worked at there were only a few pilots so management was very familiar with the performance and work ethic of each pilot. They knew we were all safe pilots and had no arguement when we made safety decisions. However, they also knew which pilots were more willing to pick up a last minute flight for the company, fly a quick mx flight before we went home, or help out with the random non-flying projects that would come up. We had a lot of pilot/customer interaction and the company knew how their customers responded to each pilot. The pilots that got great customer reviews and had a good work ethic were more likely to get the chance to fly the larger aircraft with the more important (richer) clients. With a few dozen pilots, that kind of merit-based system worked pretty well.

I cannot imagine how that would work at a large airline. I know my chief pilot because I'm a commuter who works weekdays and I spend a lot of time near the CPO Monday mornings hanging out in the crew lounge. Even so, all my chief pilot knows about me is my name, what city I commute from, and that I have a caffeine addiction. He's never flown with me, as far as I know he's never had someone complain about me (that I know of), and he's never observed one of my checkrides. There are plenty of local pilots and pilots who prefer to work on the weekend that rarely see the chief face-to-face. Chief pilots of large airlines "supervise" hundreds of pilots, so they really only have time to meet with pilots when something negative happens. Myself and most of my colleagues usually go months without talking to our chief in an official capacity - even then it's usually just a short phone call explaining what caused a delay. A supervisor's review is thus meaningless to pilots at a large airline. Others have pointed out the problems with basing merit on ontime performance, mx delays, fuel savings, or sick calls. So, what do you base promotion on? Seniority's the only thing that makes sense, and that's why most large airlines use it - even if they're not unionized.
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HAWK21M
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RE: Seniority Vs. Merit Based Promotion

Sun Jul 29, 2007 11:55 am

Quoting NKP S2 (Reply 39):
Not sure of the gist of your point, but I'm thinking you're implying that disappointed = malcontents? ( sore losers? )

Exactly.
Over ride seniority & everyone complains even the Guy who is not efficient  Smile
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)

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