WE DIDN’’T CHANGE, SO WHAT WENT WRONG?
A company is stronger when it is bound by love rather than by fear. - Herb Kelleher This quote by our illustrious founder and ex CEO/President of our great airline is proudly displayed at the SWA Training Facility. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have worked at Southwest during Herb’s reign can well remember this quote and many others that Herb lived by and led this airline by. One of my favorite Herb remarks is, “The only difference between airlines is the attitude of its’ employees.”. As I reflect on these quotes (forgive me if the words are not precise) I am amazed at how things have changed. Let me ask you; are you in fear of losing your job while you are at work and on the clock? Is your morale/attitude better today than it was a few years back? If your answer is “no” why is that? In one particular “mMega Sstation” out in the Wwest, I have been told that members of management lead, not by example, but rather by threats. A supervisor told a room full of probationary agents, “Ssomeone is going to get fired today, and I’m the one who is going to do the firing”! Managing and directing the workforce often gets confrontational even when a question is asked just for clarification. This type of leadership is not in line with Herb’s philosophy of leadership, and this type of leadership is detrimental to everything that led to building and establishing Southwest as the successful airline that Herb built. Herb always gave praise where it was due. And, his employees always responded with production, dedication and desire to excel because they knew that Herb appreciated them and rewarded them accordingly. We are still the workforce that Herb built. If things are different now it is not because we have changed, but rather, because management philosophy has changed. We are still the hardest working fleet service employees in the airline industry. We still have the “warrior spirit”, the “can do attitude” and the “love” that produces loyalty, gratitude, and appreciation. We are what makemake our great company stronger. We are highly motivated and convinced that our contributions make Southwest the envy of the airline industry. Not too long ago I visited ECP. It was refreshing for me to witness firsthand the dedication and work ethic of all our ECP employees. These employees are motivated to get the job done and do so by holding each other accountable, thus ensuring the success of all our operations. They know the job and find solutions to issues before the operations get compromised. They are highly motivated by their experience and success in the past and do not rest on their laurels but continue to put forth production and quality customer service because they care and want to perpetuate their success and our company’s success. HOU also has great employees that are not resting on their past accomplishments but continue to exhibit the work ethic that has become legendary. They have been through the “10 minute turn around” and have met every challenge with resolve, wisdom, and integrity. Team 3 at t-point has always worked together to get the job done, assisting each other on heavy flights and holding each other accountable for missed bags. And they do this with little or no supervision. Their supervisor too knows that he can depend on Tteam 3 to fulfill all their duties, so he spends more time with other teams that may need more attention. Team 3 is bound together by the bond of love and mutual respect and therefore areTeam 3 is bound together by the bond of love and mutual respect and therefore is stronger and their end product is much better. They love Southwest and want to promote Southwest and prosper with it. These are just two examples and I can name many, many more, for examples like this can be found in every station. Herb and Colleen lived by a set of rules and values that led Southwest and produced an airline like no other. These values were acknowledged by employees, thus producing a highly motivated and accountable workforce. So again I ask, what has changed? Time to get back to what works. Let’s not just remember what got us here, let’s do what got us here. The end product will be not only great, it will be magnificent.