Monday, January 25, 2010

Your flight is canceled

The wind and rain was so hard that it woke me a couple times during the night. It did not get any better in the morning as I caught up on email and prepared to leave. I checked the flight status on the airline website prior to checking in and driving to White Plains airport. What a surprise, the incoming airplane was diverted to JFK airport and our flight would be delayed “40 minutes.” Sure!

Then the all too common winter announcement, “flight 579 to West Palm Beach has been canceled.” For those of us that are people watchers, it is Super Bowl time. As if one could not have guessed it would happen, people got all spun up and pointed their aggression at each other and particularly the airline ticket personnel. As if they had something to do with the weather in New York state in the winter. As I remained in my normal state of “travel calmness,” the worst of people emerged. Does anyone really believe they get better service when they treat the service employee badly? If you were the airline personnel behind the counter, would you prefer to help the friendly customer in distress or the one yelling at you?

As leaders, we all have a choice of how we react to circumstances beyond our control. Do you let the situation control you or do you control your reaction in situations like this?

PS – Guess what – the same people were arguing with the luggage team upon arrival.


Unknown said...

You can overreact or you can assess the situation and come up with an alternative gameplan.Once you have exausted all possible alternatives, you then realize there is not much else you can do but wait it out. Kind of works under emergency situations, some react frantically and others realize there is work to be done.

Unknown said...

Well put Parry

David Herriott said...

Focus on what you can control, and handle with grace things that you can not control. The ticket worker does not have any more control over the weather then you do. If people feel the need to get that upset when flying, they should try Greyhound.

JT DeBolt said...

Great post. I recently had a GREAT experience with Southwest Airlines. It made all my past blunders (including a canceled fright from JFK with a not-to-be-mentioned airline) seem insignificant.

Leadership is very much about staying in control in times when others are losing it. Finding solutions to problems only comes with a calm mind and keen eye for those solutions.

Great post and nice blog!

Rod Satre said...

I liken Sr Management to the "Broomer" in curling. They don't throw the iron, they can only warm up the path to help guide the slide in the right direction. Kristina captures this by care use of questions. I like to ask questions that help the other person evaluate [objectively] what the bigger picture is and also the interplay of all the variables in any action. Once they learn this skill, then we can all drill into the situational outcome of the event or actions and learn how to do it better the next time.

Kristina (Giangreco) McInerny said...

Excellent advice! This is apropos ("don't take the bait") not just for leaders, but for those of us in the trenches as well.

In customer support, when we receive complaints (very few "atta-girls"), it's tempting to match the client's pitch and fervor in a defensive stance, but one must solve the problem at hand instead of getting drawn into the drama.

Determine the true issue behind the emotions with questions. Questions also show that you care about your client's outcome and are dedicated to the solution. Reassurance of one's dedication is essential. BUT be sure to be sincere; empty words can have the opposite effect if you cannot deliver.

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