What’s on the mind of Oscar Munoz, United’s new CEO? Here’s a message he sent to some employees earlier today:
Dear United team,
Gathering with ramp employees at O’Hare last week, I shared my ambition for United. Heads nodded politely, but beneath that I could feel their skepticism. The sideways glances at their friends on the front lines, the whispers. Yeah, great, Oscar, we’ve been here before.
I know that the level of concern over leadership and management is real, and I know the challenges we face affect your lives every day. I’ve received thousands of e-mails from employees and customers over the past two weeks – some of you may have received responses from me, penned at all hours of the night. Personally connecting with you and genuinely listening is my top priority. You need and deserve that from me.
I received a particularly poignant e-mail from a 747 pilot based in SFO who told me we have the power to make United the best airline in the world if we just turn lip service into action. I could not agree more. In my reply, I wrote that my pledge is to work to create and drive a very different employee and customer experience. And I asked him to hold me to it.
Also, on a flight this week, I spoke with a flight attendant in the galley who was near tears as she told me she has worked here for 25 years, but the last 10 have been the hardest. “I’m just so tired of having to tell people I’m sorry,” she said. I understand many of you share this sentiment.
On Wednesday, I was in Denver connecting with our people at the Chelsea kitchen, flight training center and terminal. Soon I will visit the rest of the network. When I see you, please come with ideas too – I promise to take these to heart.
Though I’m just two weeks into my role, my conversations with you have made a few things immediately obvious and actionable:
1) As we make cost management decisions, we’re going to seek input from the people who do the work, and put ourselves in our customers’ shoes to see if those changes make sense.
2) We need to unite the company from the inside out, and look forward, rather than backward. The merger was five years ago, and it’s time to move beyond subsidiary-level thinking.
3) I am going to review every initiative utilizing outside management consultants to determine if they create value and help move us forward. If not, I will eliminate them.
4) We’ve heard that you want to be empowered to do good work with effective tools. We will give you the right tools to deliver the service and reliability I know we are capable of.
As we move forward together, our shared purpose remains: safety, customer service, teamwork and innovation.
I recognize that the journey hasn’t always been smooth and it won’t be fixed in a day. This is a marathon with a running start. I’m ready to take this team forward. It’s time for a new day. Come with me.
Obviously a lot of commitments there and a lot of promises. Providing the tools and delivering the changes in management style will not be easy. But, at least to start, it appears he’s saying the correct things. Color me cautiously optimistic, at least for now.
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