How to Earn Commitmentin Mastering People Management (FT Mastering)
Authors: Kim W. Chan, Mauborgne Renee
Twenty years after its creation, British Airways had transformed itself from "Bloody Awful" to the self-styled "world's favourite airline". By 1997, employee morale and customer service had earned industry-wide acclaim. However, the strategy pursued by Robert Ayling, who had become chief executive in 1996, sapped employee morale, triggered unrest and jeopardized service. In the peak summer months of 1997, cabin crew walked out, causing hundreds of BA flights to be cancelled. Labour woes cost BA about £130m.What went wrong? The airline's managers violated fair process - fairness in making and executing decisions. At a time when planes were full and profits were high, managers took employees by surprise when they announced a major cost-cutting programme. They did not discuss with employees why this was necessary, nor did they engage employees in the plan. Employees were not given clear messages of what they could expect. In the absence of engagement, explanation and clarity - the bedrocks of fair process - employees felt cheated, disrespected and vulnerable. They revolted.We have spent the past 10 years studying the link between fair process and companies' abilities to make the wrenching changes needed to transform themselves. In this time, we have seen one common thread. With fair process, even the most painful and difficult goals can be accomplished while gaining employees' trust and co-operation. However, without fair process, even outcomes that employees might favour can be difficult to achieve.