By Grant Spoon
Ann Rhoades, President of People Ink, (Board of JetBlue Airways, and P.F. Changs) talks to Grant Spoon (Chief Geek of People Ink) after recent speaking appearances at the Outstanding Directors Exchange Conference in New York and the JetBlue Airways Leadership Conference in Orlando recently.
This is a continuation of the discussion from part 1.
Grant S– What else can you tell me about your recent trips?
Ann Rhoades. The other trip was to the 10 year, actually, this year we’re celebrating our 10th year at jetblue, and so there was an operations off site meeting in Orlando that I attended and the enthusiasm and the energy and the spirit was wonderful. They were very open about what was going on and what we need to do to become Americas favorite airlines and about our new partnership in new york, we’re keeping our main headquarters in New York. They were very open about why we made that decision, why it’s good for the brand, for our employees, and for our customers. There was a lot enthusiasm around that. Jet blues keeps headquarters in New York
I like all our people they’re wonderful. I had so much fun with them, we had a variety, well there were probably 250 or so leaders in the operations area and I love the operators. Everyone from the pilots to the flight attendants to the reservationists to the ones who work various jobs at the airports and customer service and all the other top areas in operations facilities … dispatch, all the important areas which are the ones where they greet the customers and have the interactions with the customers on a daily basis. They are so enthusiastic and so proud to be working for a company that really lives the values and has a strong corporate culture.
Grant S. Sounds like a great place to work. What kind of challenges are you finding companies are having in implementing corporate culture changes nowadays?
Ann Rhoades . The Challenges are how do you maintain your cost structure while at the same time making sure our first priority is safety and that we’re living the values with our employees everyday. It’s very difficult to make (staffing) cuts, most companies would make cuts across the board, but in our case what we did was we cut in areas that would not affect the employees and the customers as much. We don’t charge for bags for instance like other airlines, so our employees aren’t having to defend that every five minutes. We also don’t charge for other things that other airlines are starting to charge for which I think is critically important from a customer satisfaction point of view. Jetblue leads Net Promoter Benchmarks . We also have not had a general layoff, we have tried to be very supportive of our people through this very difficult time. Though we’ve made some changes we have not had layoffs or people losing their jobs because of the economy. You can always lose your job if you don’t support and live the Jetblue values or your not maintaining your technical skills but it isn’t because of the economy. We are a-typical in that we don’t believe in wholesale cuts of our people and never will. It’s part of how we make a strong culture.
Grant S. What type of services does People Ink offer to those companies thinking about re-polishing their corporate culture?
Ann Rhoades. Well we actually go in, after an initial assessment, and work with people on determining their values and what behaviors you want to see emulated in the organization. It starts with values which translates into behaviors. The greatest organizations in the world are the ones where the values and the behaviors are consistent throughout the organization wherever you are in the world. Whoever touches you as a customer at whatever level. When you see consistency of behavior you usually can also see that the leaders are driving that, obviously and usually it impacts performance. If you think about the Nordstroms and the Southwests and the Jetblues and other brands, Disney, brands that come up every time as outstanding, you will always get great feedback in terms of behaviors of the leaders and the people. It’s very consistent.
Grant S. Thanks Ann for getting back to me. Keep us updated on events at JetBlue and elsewhere.
Transcript record by phone March 26th, 2010.