Friday, August 12, 2005

Session Six: Interview w/ Colleen Barrett

I'm really looking forward to this session. Colleen Barrett is the president of Southwest Airlines, one of the most successful companies in the country with an incredible reputation for superior staff culture and customer service. This is ANOTHER interview...lots of interviews this year! One of the thing that's cool about Southwest is their dual commitment to being renowned for customer service, but also committed to being the "low-cost" airline. One of the keys, according to Barrett is that they take a lot of time in the hiring process. She said they "hire for attitude and train for skill." In the hiring process they look for servant leaders (people that want to serve other people), people that are altruistic and caring, and a sense of humor (you have to be able to laugh at yourself a bit). Great story...Hybels is asking her how they find people that have these characteristics. In regards to sense of humor she said that they throw people for a loop in interviews, like having interviewers show up in their pajamas to see if the person being interviewed just goes on with business as usual or they can stop a few minutes and laugh. Cool thought: because they value attitude so much, in the process of hiring they will often ask the receptionist about the person they are hiring because how the person treats the receptionist is so indicative of their attitude.

"You cannot write a rule or procedure for every situation. It just slays me when people think you can...of course you have to have some structure, but I want people to feel empowered." On the family atmosphere at Southwest: Southwests memorializes "family members." They post pictures on the walls of every significant event in their lives, work or personal." "I don't want to run a corporate company. I want to run a family." The customer is #2 at Southwest airline. The employees are #1, because they believe if the employees love what they do, are treated well, that they, in turn, will extend that to the customer. (If this intrigues you, check out the book Guts.) Hybels says that southwest has SIX full-time employees to protect the family atmosphere at Southwest. GREAT SESSION!!! I WOULD LOVE TO SPEND SOME TIME AT SOUTHWEST. Here's one of my "holy discontents:" Why isn't the church leading the way with this stuff? Why is it that the church has to look at secular organization as an example of great staff care? Tim Reist -- "So much for the Compass about a picture wall of people whose lives have been changed?" (This is an NW insiders thing.) For more about Southwest check out "about SWA" section on the Southwest webpage.

1 comment:

Sandie Murphy said...

I agree with Tim...let's have pictures all over Northwoods! Fill all the offices with a place to put them. Sounds like a great idea to me!