Onsite Coverage: Former Airline CEO Gordon Bethune Urges Focus On Customers, Employees
SAN FRANCISCO — Make your employees want to come to work and they will go the extra mile for your customers and make your company more successfully, former Continental Airlines Chairman/CEO Gordon Bethune said Thursday.
Bethune, credited with engineering a major turnaround at the once troubled airline, said creating incentives to make employees work harder toward achieving your goals should be a top priority.
“You want people who want you to be successful, because they know if you win, they win,” he said in his keynote address at NAFCU’s annual conference. As CEO he helped employees feel as if they were an important part of the company by providing regular email and telephone updates about the good and bad things that have been happening, he said.
After 9/11, Bethune said, those communication tools were used to inform employees about the latest decisions of the Federal Aviation Administration about when flights would resume. He said their employees were so well informed that they often updated employees of other airlines who didn’t get similar information from their bosses.
Bethune said the key to improving any organization is figuring what isn’t working and stop doing it quickly. When he became head of the airline, he said, about 25% of its routes weren’t profitable so he worked on revamping the company’s strategy to go to more places that customers wanted to go.
He advised attendees to figure out how to maximize their market share and focusing on the integrity of the products they are offering.