I’ve openly wondered recently whether Oscar Munoz can change the culture at United Airlines. His decision a few weeks ago to forego a sizable bonus was a noble one. The culture at United when he took the reins did not appear to be heading in the right direction. Since then, many of Oscar’s public actions and comments seem to support the belief that he’s working hard to improve the culture.
I noticed an interesting comment Oscar made during United’s recent annual meeting. Now, I sincerely hope that this discussion doesn’t throw us off the rails and head first into a political one. But, here’s what he said:
During a Q&A time, a man in the audience asked Munoz why United cut ties to the NRA, adding:
I suppose you are ignoring the fact that the NRA had nothing to do with what happened in Parkland and that the perpetrator had zero affiliation with the NRA. But, hey, congratulations on your virtue signaling. What exactly did investors get out of that? The company is willfully giving up money. That’s an odd choice for an airline company in a hyper-competitive industry.
Munoz did not like the question, quickly answering:
Sir, it wasn’t political. It was personal with regard to my family at United. That’s why we made the decision. We aren’t here to make political conversation or strike political debate. We’re here to serve customers.
My Two Cents
Matthew goes on to say that he thinks the decision is both personal and political. I understand his point, but I see the issue differently. I see it as a CEO who’s not afraid to stand up for his employees in public. It’s impressive to me in that this is no small issue. The gun violence debate in our country isn’t for the faint of heart. Knowing that, Oscar chose to give a more emotional, personal answer than you’d normally expect a CEO to give during an annual meeting.
That’s the person I think Oscar Munoz is. And yet, United still seems to struggle to make progress in key areas. Committed, happy employees make it easier to move forward. United struggled recently by making changes to the employee bonus plan that didn’t seem to be fully baked. They rolled those changes back shortly thereafter. A similar thing happened with in-flight meals recently.
Corporations need to make money, United is no exception. I’m still in the camp that Scott Kirby’s arrival doesn’t help the airline achieve those goals. I don’t know if there’s an internal struggle on how best to move forward. It sure seems like there could be. I’m in favor of a vision that builds employee pride and loyalty. Those attributes should lead to a better operation.
Regardless of where employees stand on the issue at hand regarding the NRA, they should respect the fact that their CEO isn’t afraid to back employees in the face of negative feedback.
The post Oscar Munoz Takes A Stand His Employees Should Respect was published first on Pizza in Motion