Frequent fliers may look back on 2017 as the year those supposedly “friendly skies” turned into “chaotic clouds.”
The list of airlines in trouble seemed to grow by the day, whether it was cancelled flights that led to near riots, prize rabbits dying in the cargo hold or roughed-up passengers who declined to be bumped from their seats.
Something definitely has been amiss in the airline industry.
Beyond getting past the negative media coverage, if an airline—or any company, for that matter—wants to right the foundering ship, someone should do a deep dive into the company culture, says Brad Deutser, president of Deutser, a culture consultancy that advises leaders and organizations facing transition, growth or crisis.
“Any business leader needs to understand that their ultimate success starts with what happens on the inside of the organization,” Deutser says. “If the people inside the company aren’t aligned and in synch with the company’s values and goals, then the result is going to be confusion and turmoil that eventually will affect the brand’s overall performance.”
A few airlines are experiencing that right now, but plenty of other businesses do as well.
Deutser says a lot goes into setting things right when they go awry, but among the steps that should be taken are:
Strive for organizational clarity
Deutser says the most critical ingredient to achieving business success is clarity, and that includes clarity of the organization’s purpose and vision, as well as clarity in the roles of those involved in carrying out that purpose and vision. If leaders are fuzzy on the goals they have for a business or organization, then those charged with accomplishing those goals are less likely to succeed
Keep things positive
Deutser is a proponent of positive psychology, so he believes keeping an upbeat atmosphere is essential to a company’s culture. “You want your employees to be happy,” he says. “If you can find a way to encourage a positive outlook and attitude, employees will be more motivated and will perform their jobs better.”
Go in search of what’s right in the company
When businesses want to improve, they typically focus on what’s wrong or what’s broken. It just seems to make sense to address head-on whatever difficulty has arisen. But Deutser says that approach should be flipped on its head and the question should not be: What are we doing wrong? It should be: What are we doing right? “I like to ask, ‘What are the great nuggets inside that organization that can take us to a different place, to a different height?’ ” Deutser says. If you understand where the company culture is getting it right, you can duplicate those practices in the areas where the problems lie.
“Just about any company will hit a bumpy stretch somewhere along the way,” Deutser says. “When that happens, it may be time to explore its culture, re-evaluate how it operates and re-imagine what its future can be.”
Brad Deutser is president of Deutser LLC, a consulting firm that advises leaders and organizations about achieving clarity, especially in times of transition, growth or crisis. He is an expert at leveraging culture to drive business performance, and his firm has counseled organizations ranging from the Fortune 100 to nonprofits. Deutser launched his firm in 2002.