Turbo Leadership Systems

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Issue 85 To our clients and friends July 11, 2006
Flying High
Larry W. Dennis, Sr.
Turbo Leadership

Always tell the why behind the what.

Sunday, on our return from a rather quick trip back to Detroit for a family emergency, Donna Lee (my wife) and I wanted to sit together. To get seats together, we ended up in the last row, aisle 40. Thankfully we were able to get a direct flight, 4 hours and 23 minutes. That is a long time to sit crammed in with very little leg room. The only meal available is a “snack box” or a sleeve of peanuts you can purchase from the flight attendants. The crew, which seemed to have great attitudes, worked very hard back and forth, up and down the aisle.

We were the last ones off the plane. When I stood up out of my seat, there wasn’t any rush. I said to one of the flight attendants, “Thank you. You guys really worked hard. I appreciate your service.” He said; “Thank you. It is easier for us than it is on you being crammed in the way you are. We don’t even offer you any food or a movie. It just looks like corporate greed to me.” I didn’t comment. The airline has just reorganized to avoid bankruptcy and I am reasonably sure their frugality is a response to competitive pressure. I am not sure of the amount of profit this particular airline is making, if they are like most other airlines, they are a long way from stuffing a lot of money in their shareholders or anyone else’s pockets. The flight attendant seemed to care, wants to do a good job, wants to take care of the

customer. From all indications, he doesn’t understand why certain economic decisions are being made, economic decisions he has to implement. He probably takes the heat from a lot of customers who aren’t complaining about the low fares, which are probably half of what they were 10 years ago when money was worth half of what it is worth today. In other words, 25% of what they were paying 20 years ago before deregulations.

Frontline employees always tell the truth, whatever their understanding of the truth is. If you think for a moment that you can get your frontline to consistently say something they don’t believe just to make you look good, you may be sadly mistaken. Here are two actions smart managers are taking:

  1. Survey your customers to get objective perspective; Elicit honest information
  2. Explain your policies, pricing structure, delivery system, etc., so that your associates will feel fully informed and understand the reason for decisions that may seem to compromise quality and customer commitment. Your employees will then be enthusiastic about what they are a part of, what they are asked to administer, they will always tell the “truth”, and your team will fly high.