Dr Richard Plenty and Terri Morrissey provide their thoughts on: motivation and performance.


ACI World’s recent Airport Human Resources training and development course in Kuala Lumpur provided a great opportunity for us to hear about and reflect on some of the practical challenges facing airport leaders.   

 High on the list of issues confronting participants was how to ensure the continuing motivation of both employees and contractors to perform to a high standard, particularly in a cost-constrained environment. In many operational areas, notably security, this is a matter of immediate importance. 

So what can airport leaders do to maintain motivation and high performance?


Explain what and why 

Many performance issues arise because people don’t know what they are supposed to do or why their contribution is important. Does everyone understand where their role fits in to the overall business, what standards are expected and why?  

Give examples of what constitutes outstanding performance and explain the consequences of non-performance. Quite often individuals do not realise that their non-performance can have consequences for others, especially customers.  

For example, not turning up on time for a handover shift on a security line can result in backlogs in queuing time, stress and irritability on the part of passengers and even missed flights!  


Remove barriers to high performance

Don’t assume people know exactly how to do their jobs well. Provide proper equipment, processes and systems. Ensure there is sufficient training, coaching and mentoring available. Involve people in finding ways of improving their work.   


Encourage conversations about performance

There is no substitute for talking and listening! Is everyone, including you, clear what is actually being delivered and how this compares with expectations? 

Can you measure and agree gaps in performance? Can you work together to help close performance gaps by adopting a supportive, challenging and coaching style rather than a critical, blaming approach? And remember to reward and recognise good performance – sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ is enough!


Do not settle for poor performance

It is all too easy to ignore lapses in performance, to build up a tolerance for under performance and to allow bad habits and attitudes to take hold. 

The high performing leader tackles performance issues on the spot, arrests drift and sets a role model for what he/she expects from others. Remember the personal consequences of poor performance can result in loss of self-esteem, resentment from colleagues and ‘unpromotability’, not to mention ultimate loss of the job!

About the authors

Terri Morrissey and Dr Richard Plenty are directors of This Is... and provide coaching and development for airport executives and support ACI Europe's AirPeople survey. They can be contacted at

Article originally published in Airport World Magazine February 10, 2015.

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Dr. Richard Plenty
Managing Director of This Is
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Terri Morrissey
Founding Director of This Is
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