JetBlue Becomes the New Postal?

Posted: August 12, 2010 in Culture, Leadership, Motivation, Passion
Tags: , , , , , ,

photo by: veggiegretzEven the best meltdown.  Break down.  Burnout.

I’m embarrassed to share that I actually said to a member (jokingly of course), “be careful or we’ll go ‘jetblue’ on you.”  Prior to social media and its viral tendencies, the act of one clearly stressed, burnt out, and unhappy employee would barely make a ripple other than a news story and great conversation fodder for those that had a front row seat for the escapade.

Social media has created the opportunity for this clown to achieve some sort of folk hero status — who will book him first: the FAA, The View or Oprah?  Dutifully, the media has paraded out his Mom (who not surprisingly defends his actions) and neighbors to create a surreal, anecdotal profile of this customer service nightmare.

As a leader who entrusts many employees to lead the brand experience we strive to share with members, the entire fiasco makes me cringe.  The flight attendant must own his reaction, actions and behavior and must be held fully accountable for the myriad of violations.  As the tale unfolds it will be interesting to learn if there was any inclination or precursors in the work environment that could have triggered some sort of alert that this guy was on edge.

Has Jetblue lost some of its allure and mystique?  They certainly work in one of the most challenging and demanding industries and niche.  For leaders to look at something like this is like peeling back the layers of an onion — and it may bring tears.

One of my membership service idols Alice Sawyer (link to her site) often shared, “If you don’t feed your staff, they will eat your members.”  Could this be one isolated incident or the harbinger of a serious organization-wide morale breakdown?

It is clear the actions of this veteran flight attendant did not reflect the values, mission or goals of Jetblue.  A strong focus on customer loyalty should be built on a solid foundation of employee loyalty which includes embracing the company values.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame says it is better to “obsess over customers, not competitors.”  It may behoove Jetblue to look internally rather than in a southwest direction.

As a leader, what actions do you take to ensure staff happiness, contentment, satisfaction, and relevance?  How would you respond to the outcry, laughter, and perceptions in the traditional media and social media universes?

Feed your employees and make it more than a small bag of peanuts.

I’d like to note that I do not make light of the tragedies that occurred in postal offices and that I have, do and likely will in the future fly with Jetblue.

  1. Sue Kern-Fleischer says:

    Great post, Mike!
    I love your close: Feed your employees and make it more than a small bag of peanuts.
    Yes, what Steve Slater did was wrong. He is lucky no one was on the ground when he pulled the emergency exit slide as I hear he could have killed/hurt anyone on the ground.
    The sad thing about this is that it reflects just how stressed out everyone is. In a perfect world, employers would provide more training or programs to reduce stress, but with so many companies cutting budgets, that probably won’t happen. By the way, I’ll be flying Jet Blue again too!

  2. Thanks so much Sue for taking the time to comment. You are right on in your statement in employer awareness. As this story unfolds, we will like see a pattern that should have raised some concern in regard to his “well-being”. Thanks again!

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