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Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR


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Common Sense in uncommon situations works better than any policy

By now, you have all heard more than you want to know about the passenger physically removed from an overbooked United Airlines flight to make room for airline employees.

This surfaces only weeks after United Airlines did not allow some girls on a flight because they were in violation of the United Airlines dress code which they probably never heard of.

I wasn’t there in either case, so it’s difficult for me to say exactly what happened, so I have to rely on the media reports. What I read and see isn’t the way rational people should respond. I guess they were just following Company policy.

However, look at the avalanche of negative publicity resulting from following a perhaps outdated policy. Since the ‘overbooked’ incident, United Airlines lost $250 million in market value as competition swooped in to pick up the passengers who are refusing to fly United.

These incidents should inspire all of us to seek outdated policies and procedures in our organization, then make adjustments to avoid a loss of business and / or employee turnover.  Everyone is busy and you cannot possibly have a policy or procedure that deals with every situation, much less keep it updated all the time.  But not taking the time could cost you big time.

Take the time to make sure employees understand how to deal with unusual situations using common sense. Start by asking everyone on your team this question, “if you were me, and it were entirely up to you, what is one policy or procedure you would update tomorrow?” Then go do it.

In one article I read, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said United did not give its managers “the proper tools, policies, procedures” they needed to use “common sense.”

I love it. He should have thought about that sooner. Let’s all communicate the importance of using common sense in uncommon situations.

Start by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.

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