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Chris LoCurto

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June 8, 2012

Communication And Airline Service Don’t Go Together

June 8, 2012 | By | 95 Comments

Want loyalty from your team members? Then, communication is key. Actually, I really should say “great communication.” But let’s be honest. Just communicating will go a long way.

As I write this post, I am on a Delta flight heading to Wisconsin to speak to the general managers of the Pizza Ranch chain. Their conference is taking place in a really nice resort in The Dells. (It sounds like I actually know what I’m talking about when I say “The Dells,” doesn’t it?)

Our flight started out late, which really doesn’t surprise me. Only my beloved Southwest has an incredible track record of being on time. That’s why I hate flying with anyone but them. On this flight, we didn’t actually find out we were going to be late until … we were late. Go figure.

Oh well, no big deal. I expected this kind of service. At least we were taxing out to the runway to take off. In my head, the conversation sounded something like this.

And we’re ooooooon the runway. Ready, go! Oh wait. We are pulling off to the side. Huh? That’s weird. I’m sure they will tell us what’s going on.

Is that a plane that’s going to take off ahead of us? Sure is … and another. Oh, and another.

So everyone was just sitting there wondering what the heck was going on. After about 10 minutes of watching other planes take off from the runway we were just on, we’re really wondering.

Is there something wrong with our plane? Are we going to have to head back to the terminal? Will I be late for my connection? What if I don’t make it to Wisconsin tonight? I see plenty of other people watching the planes take off. I wonder if they are thinking the same. Crud! I wish someone would just tell us what’s going on.

After a few planes, we finally pulled back onto the runway and left. Through the whole process, I was thinking how easy it would be for the captain to put us all at ease by just telling us what was up. Instead, I wondered if I was going to have to make some serious adjustments to my travel to get to the conference.

Why am I telling you all of this? It’s simple. That’s how your team feels when you don’t tell them anything. When all you do is keep them in the dark, they begin to question everything that’s happening. They begin to wonder how the silence is going to affect them. Not communicating takes your team’s eyes off of the tasks at hand and focuses them on the lack of information.

I’ve been on hundreds of Southwest planes, and I always know what’s going on. That’s why I am loyal to them. Every time it’s possible for me to fly Southwest, I do. Can your team and customers say the same?

Question: How do you see communication, or the lack there of, affecting your business?

  • unknownjim

    I TRY (key word is try) to always communicate as clearly as possible by keeping things as simple as possible. Even an email just to check in can be the difference between maintaining a good relationship or losing a relationship. 

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ uma_maheswaran

    To me, communication is the lifeblood of my business. Without communication, we are literally dead.
    Proper communication is pertinent to survival in my day to day business.

  • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

    I was reading this post Friday as I was at the airport – waiting to know what was going on with my flight!  VERY Timely – I was thinking if they would just COMMUNICATE with me – then I would at least KNOW.  Well, it ended up ok – no problems.  But a little communication would have cut the stress tremendously.  
    And as far as with my business – communication is the ultimate key.  Just to let everyone know where they are in the home-buying process.  One of the most stressful things in life – buying a home!  But when you can keep the buyers informed and let them know step by step – takes a lot of the pain out of it!

  • Pastor Benjamin

    Chris I just started listening to the podcasts on leadership. Wow they are fantastic. I will have my staff start listening to them also.
    PS can you loose the sudo swear word ” freeking” you are better than that as a Christian. Thanks so much for the program!!!

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @Pastor Benjamin Welcome to The Blog, Pastor! I think you’ll did this blog to be as beneficial as the podcasts! I know I speak for all the other commenters in saying that we gain a lot of knowledge and insight from Chris’ posts here!

  • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

    Wow, this was such a great way to teach the importance of communication, and what others feel when you don’t do it. Thanks for making it so real! I mean, I was right there on the plane with you trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Then: wham! I think I’ve been guilty of doing this to my poor team at times. 
     
    I just listened to Michael Hyatt’s most recent podcast about team alignment. Communication was point two on that one. [http://michaelhyatt.com/015-how-leaders-can-create-alignment.html] 
     
    Communication is what helps you bring people into alignment. The lack of it, as you nicely point out, makes people start wondering and worrying. When that happens, say goodbye to morale and productivity. 
     
    Reaching for my stapler. 

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @Aaron Nelson Wasn’t Michael’s nw podcast great?? I loved how he said that it’s 100% your responsibility to communicate…whether you’re the leader or the team member!

      • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

         @Skropp  @Aaron Indeed my friend! That was a hard hitting podcast for me. I especially liked that part you refer to: alignment or the lack of it, is my fault. Hard but true.

  • http://christiannick.wordpress.com/ ChristianNick

    Now I have to share a positive experience. My family just returned from a concert before which we had to wait a very long time in a very cramped lobby. About 20 minutes before the concert was to begin, the host organization’s leader made the announcement that an amp broke during sound check, another one was on the way and we would be let in once the sound check was done. Attendees continued to wait patiently because they knew what was going on and ended up being a great concert!

  • Domerskee

    I’m really late to the party on this today. One thing I’ve learned is the “how” of the communication is  sometimes as vital as the communication in the first place.  
    In our office the cries are quite often “I didn’t know” or “that wasn’t clear”.  The response from supervisors is “I sent an email” or “its in the shift binder”.  There appears to be a tightrope to walk between the need for individuals to have enough initiative and observation to acquire information, often of a vital nature, and leaders understanding and communicating in ways that best address the needs or personality types of the people on the back end.
    In Chris’ post the airline could have communicated in a number of ways (email, announcement, flight attendants passing word, twitter, facebook, etc, etc.) Some would have been more effective than others. Even if the pilot would have made an announcement someone would have likely complained they didn’t hear it because they had headphones on. This is the frustration of a communicator.  But we never have a chance to hear if it’s never attempted.  
     

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @Domerskee That is a fantastic point! We do need to remember the how of communication. But like you said, if they don’t even attempt, it doesn’t really matter how they MIGHT have. Haha

  • http://www.ricardoequips.com RicardoEquips

    Lack of communication was huge for me. I was notorious for not letting people what was going on. It was like when Moses went to the mountain and left Aaron in charge. All the people started to wonder what happened to Moses and then ran for the next best thing which was Aaron. I guess Aaron was not as strong as Moses was in leadership anointing because he folded to the cry of the people and they all got in trouble. I was not just bad about this with my ministry team, record label, or business. I was doing this to my own wife and children. I had one of those, “I thought you knew” moments like I expected them to know what was going on with me. I had to come up with a calendar system to let everyone know what was going on with me and start communication anyway I can. I now use my blog for team members to view, videos up on YouTube, e-Books as sort of like manuals for what to do when I am not around, emails, Twitter, Facebook notes, iChat, chatrooms, Facebook groups, podcast, PDFs, PowerPoints, and even Keynotes. I had to make phone calls, Skype, ooVoo, and everything else. I’m probably over communicating too much to the point where it’s spammy! lol!

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @RicardoEquips I’m glad you mentioned communication with the family too! I fall down in that area alot. I just don’t share info because I don’t think it’s important. But even if the actual information isn’t life changing, communication is!! Showing that I value my wife enough to share all information with her is important. It saves those “I thought you knew” lines, haha, great post!

      • http://www.ricardoequips.com RicardoEquips

         @Skropp  @RicardoEquips Plus I do a lot of concerts and shows (or even homeless outreach concerts) as a Christian Hip-Hop Artist. Sometimes I book shows tell my wife about it 6 months ago and expect her to remember. So she “books” family events after the fact, tells me about it, I forget and do the “I though you knew. It’s on my calendar. lol! She doesn’t like that one. So to fix this problem my wife is not my booking agent for events and concerts. lol! I am actually working on a blog about this, which is scheduled for post next week (I try to write content a week in advance). It’s to help other artists who are tempted to book shows without telling the spouse. This is how we solved this solution for the purpose to make sure dad takes care of His family before trying to take care of the other people’s families through music ministry.

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @RicardoEquips Yup, I’ve been there too! And my wife doesn’t like it either, haha. There’s so much more to communicating than just presenting information! It has to be received and understood

        • http://www.ricardoequips.com RicardoEquips

           @Skropp  @RicardoEquips I know right! lol!

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

    Whoa!  I guess I’m late for the party today.  Such GREAT comments… I think restaurant posts are right there after airline posts… so I ‘ll do that… (plus it’s lunch time and I’m hungry).  Yesterday my coworkers took me out to lunch as a celebration for my new position.  We walked downtown Minneapolis to grab a bite and browse through the Farmer’s Market.   They picked a nice place with patio seating (aka – sidewalk tables) and we got settled in.  FORTY FIVE minutes later, our order which was four salads and one sandwich had not come yet.
     
    After we threatened to leave (which we should actually have done MUCH earlier), the manager personally delivered our food.  The food was awesome, the atmosphere and place are great, but the server’s skills were awful!!  Communication would have saved them from having five unhappy customers.  They could’ve just said  “We messed up and did not place your order until now!”   We would have appreciated the honesty over the fifty-two excuses the server had for not bringing our food.
     
    A leader can SO learn from these examples.  Overcommunication is hardly ever more risky than keeping people (team members, customers, peers) in the dark… or in this case sitting out in the sun on a breezy afternoon.

    • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

      @lilykreitinger I don’t know, sitting out in the sun on a breezy afternoon doesn’t sound that bad to me ;)
      I do agree with about those restaurants though…

    • http://www.BaptistEducation.org/ JoshuaWRivers

       @lilykreitinger I can sympathize with the restaurant experience! My family and I took a vacation back in February. We arrived there after a 7 hour car ride and went straight for a restaurant. We saw one place (not mentioning the name) and pulled in. We waited a couple minutes to be seated (had to get someone’s attention). Then we sat at the table, looked over the menu, and made our choice. No one came by. Not even to get our drink order. After fifteen minutes, we just got up to leave. A worker finally noticed as we walked out and asked if they could get us something. It was too late, we went down the road and enjoyed a great meal with great service at IHOP!

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @lilykreitinger I’ll have to write a blog post about the little restaurant in our town sometime. Suffice it to say, I know how you feel!! We actuall sat at the pick up window of the drive through after ordering one time for 15 min (in the drive through!!) without them so mic as opening the window, saying our food was on its way, taking our money or anything!!
      And last night we’re in their drive through waiting to get our food and the girl says through the intercom to the next car “welcome to DK’s, please hold” and then her and her coworker laugh…like having to spend 20 min. in the DRIVE THROUGH is somehow funny.

      Ok sorry, my rant. Bottom line, yes communication is key, especially if there’s a problem, delay or change.

      • cabinart

         @Skropp  Ummm, why did you go back to them??? We save a ton of hassle and money by not eating out in our town! No matter how tempting, we remember that sort of service and realize even a quesedilla at home is a better meal (a crust of bread in the corner of an attic?) than the aggravation of lousy food and lousy service.

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @cabinart Haha. We rarely go there. But it’s the only place that serves ice cream… One time we actually ordered in the drive thru, pulled forward to pay and get our food, sat there so long without them taking our money or acknowledging us that we drove away and went to subway!

      • http://LouiseThaxton.Net/ LouiseThaxton

         @Skropp  @lilykreitinger That DRIVES me crazy!

    • http://christiannick.wordpress.com/ ChristianNick

       @lilykreitinger Great example, Lily. Just yesterday my wife walked into a restaurant to order two milkshakes and two cokes (she decided to go in because the drive thru was about ten cars deep. Thirty minutes later she came out with two half-melted shakes and two fresh cokes. No one communicated to the order taker that the shakes were ready, so they just sat there waiting to be served. We got them when they were no longer fresh, which disappointed my kids.

  • Kevin Edwards

    The problem sometimes is that the leader doesn’t have an answer or know what the next move is, but instead of leaving your team in limbo to develop their own dark fantasy of what is going on, we should be forthright that we are struggling with the decision (if that is, in fact, a true statement). Not communicating anything creates such a distrust among the team and lowers your leadership in the eyes of the team.

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @Kevin Edwards Great point Kevin! I think a lot of leaders are secure enough in their leadership to be that transparent. Our culture has convinced a ton of people that not knowing and mistakes are weaknesses to be hidden so as not to be exploited!

  • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

    I just used this post to talk with my Airmen about communication.  My main point to them was if they’re ever wondering what’s going on, it’s not their fault.  It’s mine. And I want them to feel completely comfortable calling me on my error.  Thanks for inspiration to have that conversation with them.  I bet you didn’t think you’d be serving those who serve our nation today!  Or maybe you did. =)

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @JoelFortner that’s like instant application of a post! That’s so neat. Like I’ve said before, Chris is saving the world, on leader at a time…and today apparently you are that one leader Joel!

    • http://www.jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

       @JoelFortner Did they appreciate how you burned the rice? Hopefully they won’t pull an Army trick and ride that bus to Abilene….

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

        @Jon Henry @JoelFortner Solid reference Jon!

  • http://www.BaptistEducation.org/ JoshuaWRivers

    I was born and raised in Wisconsin, so I hope you have a great time there!
     
    My company seems to be plagued with “communi-phobia” (fear of communicating). There are many times that we start work, but leadership has failed to communication important information for the day. Such things could include mechanical or reoccurring issues that day. Almost every day, we show up to work (at 3 PM) and don’t know what time we’ll be getting done – might be 11, 1, or 3. This lack of communication and consistency creates frustration and demoralizes the team.

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @JoshuaWRivers communiphobia… Love it!   How do you think leaders could move on to better communication patterns?

      • http://www.BaptistEducation.org/ JoshuaWRivers

         @lilykreitinger I have tried to think of that as well. They talk about improving communication, but usually they are referring to us communicating with each other or back to them (I don’t deny that I need to work on communicating better, too). Rarely do they acknowledge that they need to take the initiative to communicate to us first.
         
        My immediate supervisor is rarely out to the production floor (factory) because he is talking with his boss. He gets to the machine having discussed some things there, but there are several things that are passed to him via e-mail. Sometimes, he is not able to read the e-mails until later in the shift, and important information is missed. I’ve tried suggesting that he get out to check his e-mail before our shift is supposed to start so we can have the information we need when we start instead of half-way through.
         
        Sometimes the management team gets too wrapped up in talking to each other, they fail to effectively communicate to us early on. Again, I know communication has to flow back up and horizontally as well. I have personally tried to get to my work station 10-15 minutes early so I can at least see what is going on for a few minutes before I have to take over.

  • emadams

    This is the same reason that I use South West too.  I did recently use another airline to fly from LA to Seattle.  Alaskan Airlines was fantastic.  Every person I came in contact with would go out of their way to help.  When you have a wife like mine that has big issues with flying, it sure helps calm them down.  She did great because Alaskan Airlines team members were able to break down her wall.  It made the trip very enjoyable.

  • cabinart

    List Lady returns:
    1. Such arrogance to not communicate with your passengers! It assumes the passengers can’t understand or are so irrelevant that they don’t need to know or there are so many “little people” that their planes will always be full.
    2. I’ve found Alaska Airlines to be good like Southwest.
    3. There is a human tendency to horriblize a situation when we aren’t told anything – it goes against “no news is good news”.
     

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @cabinart Hey list lady!  Always love your comments.  So true that lack of communication comes across as arrogance!

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @cabinart Haha. I live the term “horriblize”! I may have to use that!!! And it’s so true. We always assume the worst if left to our own devices….

      • cabinart

         @Skropp  I stole that term from Dr. Laura Schlesinger. Just trying to communicate here . . . don’t want to take credit for her great word. 

  • MattMcWilliams2

    I’ve been looking for years for an analogy to share with a friend who holds back from his team. This was it Chris!
     
    He flies 20-30 times a year and I am sure he can relate to this. He is  the consummate entrepreneur who only tells his team “what they NEED to know.” All of the sudden, there are three less people working on his team and no one knows why.
     
    It’s simply not healthy. Just like you on the plane, do they need to update their resume? Did they do something wrong? Am I going to get paid next week? It doesn’t work.
     
    Overcommunicate. Overshare. Don’t hold back.
     
    Thanks Chris!

  • Chadrick Black

    It seems most companies need to reevaluate their policies regarding customer relationships and re-learn how to practice “front to back” communication. (With “front to back” communication, I’m referring to: “I’m not going to stop communicating with you after you buy my product/service, I’m going to communicate with you from the time you buy my product/service until our agreement ends.  I’m going to put myself in your shoes and treat you the way I would like to be treated and respected.”)
    I believe that tomorrow’s successful companies will learn, once again, that the revolving door customer base is expensive and time-consuming from a marketing standpoint and that satisfied, respected, and “in the loop” customers and employees are, and have always been, the best marketing tool to grow a company.
    So it seems, in regards to the airline industry, price matters for you, but service trumps price (Southwest vs. Delta) as long as prices are reasonably comparable.  And while most travelers like you and me are not expecting first-class service while paying for coach, we do expect to be satisfied with our purchase, our time respected, and kept “in the loop” as much as possible.

  • tbric1

    I never really thought of the lack of communication causing such thinking on the other end, even if I have done it myself.  Thanks for pointing that out.  I am trying to over-communicate to the team and it seems to be helping!

  • http://www.jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

    Not to defend the airline, but communication is two way. People should have the right to ask what is going on just as much as they have the right to be told what is going on. Like marriage, if I see that my wife is frustrated with something it would be better for me to ask her why rather than assume reasons or ignore her (which would likely make her frustration worse). If she’s telling me what’s wrong all the time and I’m never asking, there is something wrong with me. She should feel free to share her needs with me, but I should anticipate her needs as well.
     
    Communication in business is the same. Leaders should communicate with team members, but team members should be communicating just as frequently with leaders. The breakdown in communication happens when 1.) the leader makes themselves inaccessible or 2.) the team member is too afraid to question or communicate with their leader. The breakdown in communication between businesses and clients happens when business fails to understand their customer, AND fails to anticipate their needs. But if a customer never shares who they are with the business (other than sharing money), they will never allow the business to communicate effectively either. That is why you, the customer version of you, should always give feedback!
     
    How does this play in with the airline? Most airlines create a culture where you must obey directions and never question an authority figure or you’ll get booted off the flight. If you cause a nuisance, you’re getting shipped to as close to Guantanamo Bay as the airline can send you. While you were waiting, did anyone page a flight attendant to ask what was going on? Not likely, as they had a million reasons not to ask questions (don’t want to inconvenience the attendants, it might not be appropriate before takeoff, it might land me in jail, etc), and the airline clearly doesn’t make itself available in those situations. Of course, the airline failed as well because it did not anticipate the needs of the flyers and address their concerns before someone asked.
     
    In short (HA! I made fun of skottydog for his lengthy posts, now I eat crow), communication is about ANTICIPATING and SHARING needs and expectations. You need both for it to really work.
     
     

    • http://christiannick.wordpress.com/ ChristianNick

       @Jon Henry  Jon, I like your two points about leadership making themselves inaccessible or the team member being afraid to communicate. I have seen this recently where people are simply afraid to ask for information because of fear of negative repercussions. That fear, which is communicated from leadership, insulates the leader and makes them inaccessible. Great comment!

    • tbric1

       @Jon Henry  skottydog Getting team members to change and start communicating with leadership is a huge part!  We are an older company that had no communication.  Team members are starting to open up as I am sharing just about everything with them.  We are starting to see very positive results!

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @Jon Henry @skottydog Haha. You know Jon, when I saw the post I thought “oh, must be Scott’s post…but alas…haha).
      Your assessment of communication being two way is accurate and appreciated! It is soo important for leadership to be accessable! If team members don’t feel like they can approach you or that if they do their opinions won’t be respected, there’s a breakdown that will, sooner or later cause serious issues in several aspects of company.

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

       @Jon Henry Ha ha!  I was just thinking about that!  Just a little tip, Jon:  When you see the scroll bar slider to the right of the screen shrink after you submit a comment…it’s probably too long!  :^}
       
      And regarding two way communication inflight:  I agree with your point, but I admit I NEVER ask questions to the flight attendant.  I don’t want to be “that guy”.  Plus, they are the ones feeding me drinks in flight—don’t want to piss them off before takeoff!  lol

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @Jon Henry  And you now broke the record… did you reach the character limit? :D

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    Chris, you have no idea how I love these air travel posts!  This should be a blog catagory of its own!   
     
    As playbook changes manifest, leaders need to relay the info as fast as they get it.   If your team doesn’t know what the leader is doing, or WHY they are doing it, they become disgruntled.  That leads to poor morale, and low enthusiasm that customers pick up on.  
     
    In the radiology world, with 38 radiologists in our group, our exam protocols change just about weekly.  We usually have the opposite problem in that arena–we joke that they should be written in pencil!   However, as fast as change comes, it must be passed onto the team.
     

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @skottydog I love what Dave teaches: “when in doubt, communicate”. If you aren’t sure if you should communicate something, communicate it.
      When my manager doesn’t communicate with me, it’s easy for me to start thinking I’m not important…and THAT has a huge impact on performance!

      • http://lcdublin-myprivateuniverse.blogspot.com/ CarolDublin

         @Skropp  @skottydog Such great points about the impact lack of communication has on performance. It can lead to duplication of efforts or dropped balls if team members and leaders don’t all know who is doing what. Also, for us as a nonprofit, it can lead to embarrassment and loss of volunteers or donors, if it appears we don’t have our act together. Nothing worse than having someone get two difference answers or an “I don’t know about that” from people who should know!

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @CarolDublin @skottydog Yup. Not knowing will be forgiven once…after that it gets VERY frustrating!

  • http://www.thecaremovement.com/ Al Smith

    Thanks Chris.  Communicate is the “C” in CARE.  Absolutely critical.  When you communicate with your employees, it also keeps them involved and gives them a sense that they are important, they matter and WE are all on the same team.
     
    Take CARE.
     
    Al

  • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

    Haha. Love it Chris. I could totally see you having that conversation in your head! Just your luck to get the pilot that when he takes his family to a concert afterwards in the parking lot he lets EVERYONE go ahead of him, because he’s just a nice guy!!
    You’re right, simple communication is priceless! I think the pilot, and many leaders are afraid people will be upset with what’s going on, so they just AVOID the conversation, which, ironically, causes more frustration than the actual issue would have!
    Great post! Most people are happy to be mentioned on “The Blog”…I’m sure, Delta, not so much! Haha

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

       @Skropp @chrislocurto My favorite example of poor airline service told by Chris was when he approached the service desk saying, “Can I ask you a question?” and the counterperson responded with “If it’s quick.  “Chris did a 180 mid-step and said “Nevermind”.
       
      Definitely NOT a Southwest story.
       
       

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

        @skottydog @chrislocurto Haha. That’s funny. Can you imagine the confusion that person had as Chris walked away? Haha

        • rlawrencejr

           @Skropp  @skottydog  @chrislocurto The tragedy is that this person probably didn’t even understand the depths of why Chris walked away. While this airline attendant is obviously at fault in this situation, the real problem is farther up the line…this kind of stuff usually trickles down as a result of a lack of clarity on the part of leadership.

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @rlawrencejr @skottydog @chrislocurto I’d say lack of clarity AND a bad culture…

      • http://www.jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

         @skottydog  @Skropp  @chrislocurto I had Delta tell me once that the plane that was suppose to take me from Knoxville to Atlanta forgot to take off from Atlanta earlier in the morning, and they would pay for me to drive or go on another flight. I asked how a plane forgets to take off, and the desk lady looked like she was about to break down into tears. 
         
        By the same token, I’ve seen a Delta pilot inform people that he had less than 7 minutes to close to cockpit door and leave the terminal or the flight would be delayed until the next day, since he was required by regulation to sleep after so many flight hours and there was no other crew available. I’m sure that flight set the record for boarding time, and I heard the pilot remark after the flight that he needs to try that line more often. Perhaps he works at Southwest now?

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @Jon Henry @skottydog @chrislocurto Haha. As I read your comment I thought the same…how does a plane forget to take off?? I’m not sure I would’ve been THAT transparent to a customer. There’s no way to look incompetent at that point! Haha

        • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

           @Jon Henry  @Skropp  @chrislocurto Wow!  That’s awesome!  That’s the best example of ‘honesty is the best policy’ I’ve heard!   I’m sure he got the customary applause upon landing!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com/ Joseph Lalonde

    Great post Chris. Sorry to hear about the plane delay. It must have been torture!
     
    I’m with you on communication being a key factor to success. I wrote about it recently, www.jmlalonde.com/the-power-of-real-communication/ . 
     
    I’ve seen the negative consequences a lack of communication can bring. Unity in your teams are broken, rumors start to spread, and feelings are hurt.
     
    If we take the time to properly communicate with our team, so much of the junk we’re going through can be avoided.
     
    Just wondering, did their lack of communication on this recent flight affect your opinion of the company? Or, due to the hundreds of positive experiences, are you brushing it off as a one-time deal?

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @Joseph Lalonde Very true about the negative consequences! Where I work, I’ve noticed if management doesn’t communicate the employees ALWAYS jump to the worst case scenario! Not where you want your employees minds wandering to!

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com/ Joseph Lalonde

         @Skropp  Exactly! Especially if there have been major changes.
         
        One example that comes to mind is Circuit City and the mass layoffs. Employees came in one day and huge groups were let go. 
         
        No warning. No build up. Just “Thanks for the job you guys have done but we’re making changes.”
         
        The atmosphere after that was dismal. 

        • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

           @Joseph Lalonde  @Skropp The atmosphere BEFORE that was pretty dismal, too.  With so much competition from other stores, the staff made little to no effort to answer questions for customers.   At least at the branch near me, which opened AND closed in less than a year.  
           
          I did feel bad that those employees were excited about working in a new store, and just a few months later were jobless.
           
          Communication breakdown in its purest form!

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com/ Joseph Lalonde

           @skottydog  @Skropp That’s odd! But another great example on why they failed. Do you know what time frame this was? I’m thinking of the major layoffs that occurred around 2001-2002. They gutted the best performing employees because they were earning too much commission and had just switched to straight hourly. I wonder if your local store opened before or after this event.

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @Joseph Lalonde And I really doubt they believed the “thanks for the job you’ve done” with that sort of communication. Talk about finesse!

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @skottydog @Joseph Lalonde Those types of experiences have GOT to be evidence of leadership and culture breakdowns at the highest levels of the organization.

        • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

           @Joseph Lalonde  @Skropp WAY after!  It opened in 2009 and closed in 2010, and remains vacant today.  

        • http://www.jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

           @Joseph Lalonde  @skottydog  @Skropp I worked at Best Buy starting in 2003… the corporate office had a dark room of hospital beds that symbolized the “health” various competitors from CompUSA to Circuit to Tweeter (not Twitter). Circuit was never in good shape when I worked in retail. I am familiar with layoffs that began in 2007 where Circuit fired over 3,000 of their highest paid employees for lower paid labor. At the same time, managers were told to focus more on labor costs than profit margins. The culture at Circuit was “reduce costs” rather than “be profitable.” They closed less than two years later, and the dark room at Best Buy corporate basically turned into a morgue. :/ 

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com/ Joseph Lalonde

           @Skropp  No, they did not. You could tell when you talked to them afterwards. Frustration, anger, resentment. Not a good way to move a company forward.

        • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

           @Jon Henry  @Joseph Lalonde  @Skropp Circuit City to me was always a case of “careful what you wish for”.  For years, I was tired of entering an electronics store and being stalked the moment I walked through the door.  I always thought to myself “I wish they’d leave me alone.”  
           
          Well, along came Circuit City, where I felt like I had to set myself on fire to get someone’s attention, and few employees had knowledge of any of the products.
           
          Again, just MY experience.  I still miss PC Richards.  Did they exist outside of New York?

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @skottydog @Jon Henry @Joseph Lalonde haha. Set yourself on fire…cracks me up! I’m with you though! I hate acquiring a second shadow while I’m in a store! But please acknowledge I exist!

  • http://christiannick.wordpress.com/ ChristianNick

    Communication is at the core of leadership, teamwork, customer service, project management, and so much more. It is sharing a vision for a common outcome so that everyone is on the same page to create success. It is showing that you trust those around you with the information you know. It is creating a team culture. Communication is respect.

    • rlawrencejr

       @ChristianNick “Communication is respect.” – very well put!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com/ Joseph Lalonde

       @ChristianNick Very true Nick! Leaving your team in the dark creates dissent.

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @ChristianNick Well, that sums it up. I’ll shut up now! Haha. Well put Nick!

  • rlawrencejr

    Chris, As you rightly point out…communication is such a key ingredient to successful teamwork!
     
    Your airline experience last night was a great example of how communication, or a lack thereof, affects everyone who, similar to every team, has a common destination. In business, in the nonprofit sector, and in any organization that is working toward a shared purpose or goal, those in leadership must never underestimate the importance of keeping team members informed. And this is especially true in situations when a leader might suppose the information that could be communicated may be unimportant or inconsequential! In healthy situations, when a leader shares seemingly unimportant or inconsequential information to his or her team, the unspoken message to the team is clear: every team member is important enough to be kept in the loop. 
     
    I suspect that a lack of sharing information on the part of a leader is linked to control issues. Most leaders are control freaks, I know I am, but communicating information to team members is critical. It takes a level of humility, but that’s part of being a leader. When leaders don’t communicate information, because they think they’re the only ones who really need to know this information, then this demonstrates a level of self-centeredness and insensitivity. The captain who was piloting your plane last night demonstrated an insensitivity to his passengers by not communicating a brief delay. When this kind of stuff happens repeatedly in the business realm among leaders and team members, it won’t be long before the plane crashes.
     

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @rlawrencejr Well stated! I appreciate you pointing out how even seemingly small details make a difference when they aren’t communicated!

  • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

    I know part of this has to do with my history of extremely low self-esteem (which I’ve been working on, and I’m much better now). Though I hate to use that overused word. Anyway, when there’s a lack of communication, thoughts go through my head like: am I doing good enough, am I doing enough, am I dong better than the person who used to hold my position, am I making my boss happy, are they thinking of letting me go? I know those questions in themselves could negatively affect my work performance so I got in the habit of ignoring them. Communication wise, I didn’t necessarily need a “pat on the back”, I just needed to know what was expected of me, and know I was accomplishing that. My current boss has been much better in the communication department than many if my previous ones :) And no, I don’t need a micro-managing boss, I work very independently. :)

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com/ Joseph Lalonde

       @Laura Johnson In my jobs, I’ve seen the results of those thoughts running through people’s minds due to a lack of communication.
       
      It creates a sense of secrecy and scheming. People start to talk and rumors begin to spread. 

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

        @Joseph Lalonde @Laura Johnson Man Joseph, have you been spying on my place of employment?? Haha. Very true!

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com/ Joseph Lalonde

           @Skropp  @Joseph  @Laura Maybe Skropp! Or, more likely, far too many places are being run inefficiently and improperly. 

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @Joseph Lalonde @Laura I choose option B. haha. It bums me out. The owner of the company is a good friend of mine, but his view on leadership is “I’m not good at management”. So he does very little. He hired a general manager, but that guy is NOT a fit. I just wanna kidnap the owner and take him to an EntreLeadership. Because his inability and low desire to be engaged with the company’s employees has greatly affected the company culture!

        • cabinart

           @Skropp  “kidnap the owner”?? Oh yes, I’d love to hold all the business owners in this town hostage in an Entreleadership, or at least lock them up until they all read the book!   

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

           @Skropp  @Joseph  @Laura I’m thinking… casually drop a copy of the book on his desk…

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

          @Joseph Lalonde @Skropp @Joseph @Laura It’s sad when there are such great leaders out there ready to help others learn to effectively and efficiently run their business, and many business owners/managers refuse to make the time to learn from them.

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

          @lilykreitinger @Skropp @Joseph @Laura Or just start talking about all the things you learn from the book–make it sound like you’re making personal discoveries not dropping hints ;) Maybe he’ll ask to narrow it :)

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

          That was supposed to be borrow not narrow.

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @lilykreitinger @Joseph @Laura Haha. He doesn’t even have a desk except at his house. Which would make it tough ;)

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @Laura Johnson Laura, I’m embarrassed to even admit this…especially here…I haven’t read EntreLeadership yet. It’s on my list, and my brother was going to let me borrow his, but he started reading it a second time…do all I know is what I’ve learned from the podcast, live chats, and this blog. (please no one kick me out after that revelation?? Haha)

      • LaytonWelborn

         @Joseph Lalonde  @Laura Johnson Agreed! One of the problems that arise from not communicating is that people will fill in the information on their own.  Not only does this filler tend to be the wrong conclusion, it is a conclusion based on that individual’s own way of thinking.  For example, if a key team member leaves an organization and leadership does not communicate then people automatically go to a worst-case scenario.  Are we next? What’s going to happen to that department? etc.   Then if leadership doesn’t take the opportunity to treat them like human beings ( acknowledge their contributions, wish them well, etc ) on their way out, then people will start to think that they’re not cared for.  This then starts a whole other set of issues.
         
          The other failure that can be taken from Chris’ story is the perception that leadership ( the pilots ) feel that those beneath them “don’t need to know what’s going on because it doesn’t concern them.”  One of my pet peeves is what I call “dictation from on high”  where leaders just give out mandates ( from a position of arrogance, IMO)  without any explanation to why the decisions have been made because the masses would a) never understand it anyway or b) complain.  So instead the reasoning is left up to the individual to conclude themselves and that is never a good idea.  I’ve been involved with leaders who would do this with the rationalization that their people would not understand why they made a decision and they just “don’t have the time” to explain it to them.  I’m sorry, but it’s a leaders job to spend the time to make sure people understand!  Why not treat people as adults, or better yet, professionals and give them the dignity of feeling that they’re part of something and not children that must be told how to think?
         
        I think it’s ironic that if one of these pilots ( they’re are two of them up front ) were to go into their doctor’s office for an appointment at 9:00, but were forced to wait, without explanation, for a while, they’d be the first to go to the front desk and demand an explanation.   So, why couldn’t they put themselves in someone else’s shoes and put their minds at ease? 
         
        Ultimately, as servant-leaders, our jobs are to do everything in our power to help remove any pain or discomfort we can.  – sorry, I think I heard some talk-radio guy mention something like this so I had to repeat it.  ;)
         
        Sorry for the long post…..

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

          @LaytonWelborn Don’t ever apologize for the length of your comment! We want to hear ALL the good stuff :)

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

        @Joseph Lalonde I know exactly what you’re talking about! Even if I as an employee choose to not go that route, it’s a struggle listening to all the other employees who do go down that path of secrecy, scheming, and rumors.

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @Laura Johnson Very true Laura! I think we’re all like that. We not need the boss to stand there and say good job every couple minutes, we just need to know things are on track and what needs to be done.

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

         @Skropp  @Laura Funny how that works… if you know what people expect from you, you are more apt to accomplish it…