The second day of SHRM18 started off with the President of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz. As we all know United Airlines has been in the news quite a bit for their customer (no)service encounters. He made some introductory remarks and then sat down with Johnny C. Taylor, CEO of SHRM, for some pointed questions.
Munoz opened up with the question “What is corporate America doing, with their HR people here?” He pointed out that HR was the last resort to solve problems after they had already started. He said they are trying to change that. He said that rules and policies got in the way of them doing what was right for the customer. They are trying to change that as well. They have made their executive in charge of customer service their VP of HR. He said the challenge of dealing with 140,000 employees is communication.
Johnny Taylor asked “What is the biggest thing you want HR to accomplish? Munoz answered “It involves strategy and culture. We want to grow profit but it must be principled.” Taylor then asked him about the Lottery bonus system – which was not well met. What did you do? What is the big takeaway? Munoz said “We didn’t listen. And we learned from that.”
Munoz said, “Life is just too damn short to be miserable.” He wants people to speak up. JT asked “How do you deal with the 10% of people in your organization that are miserable? Rank and yank them?” Munoz said, “You need to take the time to understand why people are miserable.” He then related a story about an employee who was miserable who just did not have any empathy for customers. That changed after talking to the employee and discovering why the employee was unhappy.
Munoz closed by saying “HR is a major part of the value change. Don’t forget the human element. Show some empathy and your employees will do better.”
I went to two sessions, both presentations of people I had interviewed. Paul Endress spoke on Reflective Listening. Alfredo Castro spoke on Strategic Storytelling. Alfredo was joined by Mardely Vega, the VP of HR for Sodexo in Brazil. She told us about the successes they have had with their mentoring programs because of storytelling.
There were a lot of interesting vendors that I will profile in a later post.