Archive for April, 2012

Five Critical Traits for Effective Ground Handling Leadership

Monday, April 30th, 2012

effective leadership

What really sets the best managers above the rest? It’s their ability to build a team of employees who have great inner work lives – consistently positive emotions; strong motivation; and favorable perceptions of the organization, their work, and their colleagues. The worst managers undermine inner work life, often unwittingly and most times with the best of intentions.

As Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer explain in “The Progress Principle,” seemingly mundane work-day events can make or break employees’ inner work lives. But it’s forward momentum in meaningful work – progress – that creates the best inner work lives. They go on to explain how to activate two forces that enable progress:

  • Catalysts – events that directly facilitate quality work, such as clear goals and autonomy
  • Nourishers – interpersonal events that uplift workers, including encouragement and demonstrations of respect and collegiality

This applies especially in airline ground handling services.  Though airlines compete for business through pricing, scheduling and service amenities, a passenger’s flight decision is also influenced by the actions of the airline and ground handler employees. In order for aviation services staff to provide top-notch support, effective leaders must find ways to make certain these employees feel valuable in their roles. Adopting these critical traits for effective leadership is essential to the success of your aviation services team.

1. Know Your Team

An effective leader knows the employees that make up their frontline staff. He or she communicates the goals and standards of the airline customer and knows how to support the team in times of success or underperformance and reports to the airline any opportunities for praise or improvement. An effective leader understands how to break down each task to ensure the team is prepared to accomplish the goals of the airline customer.

2. Share Control

The most effective leaders know that leveraging the team’s strengths is just as important as recognizing those strengths. He or she knows how to trust frontline employees to deliver on the shared mission. Collaboration requires leaders to achieve success through resources outside of their control, even when those may operate differently from the leaders themselves.  The key here is for the leader to gain commitment from each team-member to achieve the requirements of the customer at the level of quality and consistency required.

3. Be Transparent

Effective leaders disclose information that is beneficial to both employees and airline clients alike. They share performance on all metrics to show how each employee contributes to success and to gain the team’s commitment to correct and improve. Leaders know how to balance the good news with the bad, affecting staff performance for the better.

4. Stay Optimistic

Great leaders are positive, have a passion for the work itself and are optimistic about the future. They are conscious of their behavior and communication; and they know how to positively affect the perspectives, beliefs and behaviors of their team. Effective leaders build a structure and culture that supports a collective ownership.

5. Show Gratitude

Collaborative leaders recognize the importance of showing their appreciation to each employee. They thank their team for their efforts and take no job for granted. They know that their own efforts are only as good as the whole of the team.

Effective leaders bring passion, energy and drive into their every-day style of managing. They build and invest in highly effective relationships at every level to ensure that leaders and frontline staff, equally, have the trust and knowledge to act for the long term.

Front-line Employees are Key to Improved Customer Service

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Customer ServiceWe’ve all heard the old adage that it takes much more to gain and new client than retain a current one. If that’s the case, why do companies seem to do so little to keep existing customers happy — at least from the customer’s point of view?

To understand why customer service standards often go awry, we have to look at front-line employees, the people who do most of the interacting with passengers on a daily basis.

There are a variety of reasons why front-line employees may not be creating great experiences for your customers: poor hiring practices and job assignments, a lack of standards or insufficient training. Read on for practical ways to get your front-line employees putting customer service first.

1. Select the right people, and put them in the right positions.

Recruiting and hiring good employees is difficult, especially in a high-turnover industry like aviation services. But putting the effort into employee selection on the front end can pay dividends in the long run in the form of satisfied, loyal customers who tell their friends about your company.

As you interview employees, place a stronger emphasis on personality. Even consider using a personality assessment tool to get a true picture of a person’s character traits. Those who are friendly, outgoing, and enthusiastic often make for great customer service employees. Employees who lack these traits can still be effective, but may be more valuable, and have increased job satisfaction, in a non-customer-facing role.

2. Establish and communicate customer service standards.

Employees may simply not know what you expect of them in terms of customer service, or they may not feel empowered to properly address passenger issues. To remedy this, clearly outline your expectations, demonstrating exactly how you expect them to speak and act as they work with customers. Provide real-world examples of how to handle the most common passenger requests and complaints. Consider putting your customer service standards into a memorable mantra that employees can embrace.

3. Provide ongoing customer service training.

Over-the-top customer service is not natural to everyone. And it’s easy for the pressures of life and work to sap the positive energy out of harried employees. Ongoing customer service training is essential to ensure employees keep it top of mind. While most companies provide some initial customer service training during orientations, consider daily or weekly “talks” to remind employees of your standards and expectations.

In today’s competitive marketplace, adequate customer service is not enough. Selecting and placing the right front-line employees and equipping them to exceed customer service expectations are the keys to loyal, enthusiastic customers.