Southwest Airlines Culture Takes Flight and Soars | Gallup


What we are going to see through this
process is a margin of performance that has yet to be unleashed across
Southwest and it’s important for us to remember that there is both a
performance and a people case that nicely intertwine behind the Southwest
story. So it was very much a grassroots effort. We had one person in one
department that brought Strengths to her team and from there it just kind of blew
up. We know that development is something
that people talk about over and over they want to feel like someone is
interested in them. That someone is interested in contributing to their
development and Strengths gives us a way to do that broadly, where we do want to
go in and we do want to know what an individual needs to learn more
tactically but we also want something that says, gosh, we see the uniqueness in
you and we see what makes you special and we want to talk to you as this
individual person over here who has who brings these gifts to the table. Anytime someone is bringing their authentic self to work and we’re
developing them in the areas that they’re strongest, we’re going to get the
best out of them and one of Southwest philosophies is to put their employees
first and you know people always ask us what is our secret sauce, well our secret
sauce is that we put our employees first and I think Strengths is a great tool to
put your employees first. We’re on-site at Southwest we’re teaching a week-long
strength certification course and I’m setting up it’s a Monday morning it’s
about 8 o’clock in fact, I know it was 8 o’clock on the dot.
And I hear this commotion that’s happening outside of the room and I
go out and I see in the lobby that there is this entire tunnel of Southwest
employees with literally a red carpet rolled out, noisemakers, signs that are
out and they are cheering on all of their new employees who start that
Monday morning. Turns out this happens 8 o’clock, every
single Monday morning within Southwest and that to me is just this, it’s a
microcosm that shows this value that Southwest has around celebrating people
and understanding the value of their people and to me what’s incredibly
exciting with an organization that says that they want to be strengths-based
that already values their people, when you take that kind of a belief that’s
already in place and then add on top of that tools to help them think about how
to bring out the best of their people you take an organization that’s already
great and give them the opportunity to be exceptional. We don’t do strengths and say one and done we’re done I think that was
mentioned earlier today in one of our training sessions. We’re trying to layer
it in everything we’re doing so that it just becomes a part of the language
and a part of how we do life at Southwest. We started to see the practical
application of when it actually works. And so, I again I use it daily to manage
myself but then how do I customize my approach based on who I’m talking to, who
I’m working with, I lead a small team. How can I position them to do what they do
best. We’re just now getting to the point to where we’re having full teams that know what their strengths are. We have a few departments that are a
little more mature then other groups but the the groups who have
gone through strengths and know what they are and have been coached on them,
we are seeing higher engagement, higher productivity, and people that are just
genuinely happier to be at work. We’ve seen attrition drop off, turnovers
reduced, we’ve seen increased engagement scores, we’ve seen increase in employee
Net Promoter Score, higher productivity, higher morale, people talking the
language, people you know delegation has been different people are now leaders
are now delegating differently based on what people are good at, feedback has
been massive, and then on the individual level you know, golly, it’s not only
impacting them at work I think it’s impacting them outside of work and in their lives because we’re telling people it’s okay to be yourself
and it’s okay to do what you do best every day and for some they have
never heard that before and so it aligns perfectly with Southwest Airlines
culture and strategy and yeah it’s awesome to see. Once folks get
the discovery piece down right so once we get the education and everybody
knows what their strengths are it’s really the integration and how do we
integrate that into the things that we do every day so from our performance
management processes to just leaders having conversations with their folks.
We’re really excited about how strengths is going to help bolster the already
great culture that we have. My vision for this is that we are not only helping
people be their best at Southwest Airlines but those people are helping
their immediate family, friends, community be their best and it just keeps spreading
and that people want to be at Southwest because they know they’ll be valued.

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