Get the right people

Hiring the right people is really important. I know it is a truism, but it was painfully obvious on our trip.

During the last week and a half, my family took three flights with the America West Airlines. It was myself, my wife and our one year old son taking the trip and having the little guy with us required bringing the carseat.

As I am sure you are aware, there are a dozen buckles and straps sticking out. We were a bit concerned about something getting caught on the conveyors they use.

In Milwaukee, we asked the check-in folks if they had anything we could put the carseat in. Their response was, “We don’t carry supplies”. The TSA folks pointed us to the Delta counter, where they were more than happy to help with a large plastic bag.

In San Diego, we asked the same question. The person checking us in said, “Hang on. I will be right back.” He came back with a 55 gallon trash bag. It worked great.

In Phoenix, we got the same story about how they didn’t stock supplies. This time Southwest came to our rescue.

Same problem, same rules, but three different people. One of them got it right.

4 thoughts on “Get the right people

  1. You’re kidding about this, right? You think the people were at fault? If this were the case, it would be impossible to consistently hire people that could do the job.

    The problem in these particular scenarios is not one of people. It is a problem of training, of systems, or the lack thereof. If the people were trained in how to respond in these circumstances, the customer would have had a more positive experience.

  2. This is the business equivalent of the “nature vs. nuture” debate. I generally fall on the nature side of this argument.

    The system did not fail these people. Anyone one of them could have done the same thing that the guy in San Deigo did. The guy got us a trash bag. I don’t buy the “no one told them to do it”, so it is not their fault.

    People who understand the golden rule understand how to treat customers. Those are the people I want.

  3. I hear what you are saying, but just because somebody understands the golden rule and understands how to treat customers does not mean they will act accordingly. Most people know right from wrong. But thrust into a situation where it is difficult to do the “right” thing day in and day out, even the brightest will tarnish. History is full of such examples. I’m not advocating hiring any ol’ riff-raff off the street… good people are desirable and necessary. But it would be premature to judge the folks you encountered as lacking without knowing more about the circumstances under which they are being asked to perform.

    “Nurture”, by the way, doesn’t really capture what I am saying. If you have to nurture people excessively, it’s another indication that the right systems are not in place. It means that folks are not sure of what is expected of them because it hasn’t been adequately communicated… and likely hasn’t even been documented.

    There are lots of successful business that rely on the good judgement of great employees day in and day out. But the MOST successful businesses are those that eliminate the need to exercise judgement in as many situations as possible, making it possible for employees to excel and for managers to further innovate even better processes, systems, and standards.

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