What’s your style? Delta or Virgin Atlantic?

Do you dress like the traditional Casino Exec, or do you add your trademark polka dot tie or scarf? Is there a correct and only way to dress, to behave, and to connect with the players?

I fly across the Atlantic a couple of times each year. The Delta crews are immaculately groomed with a permanent soft smile, and a calm, quiet way of moving around the cabin. To the British side of my brain, this is cold and impersonal but I believe they are so well-drilled and competent, that they would handle any emergency mid-flight.

By comparison, the Virgin Atlantic crews appear relaxed, even casual, and share personal stories and jokes as if I were a friend.  Yes, they wear a uniform but it will have a jaunty adjustment and perhaps a small personal addition. To the American side of my brain, they can appear dis-organized and I worry that they would not find the defibrillator in time!

(In the US, we expect customer service to be delivered with the quiet efficiency shown in Downtown Abbey. In contrast, the Brits know that anyone delivering customer service will be as personal and jokey, as if they had just met you in the pub. Despite the stereotype of the British ‘stiff upper lip’, the British guest may find the Delta crew to be aloof, and the American guest may find the Virgin Atlantic crew to be unprofessional.)

I always enjoy these contrasts in the culture of the flight crews as I hurtle in a silver tube between my native land and my adopted USA home. It reminds me that there is no right or wrong way to dress and behave. But! It is very easy to put off a guest who has a rigid expectation of any kind. So, you might want to experiment with lightening up, or tightening up, your style to see what response you get. (While still being sincere to your true nature!)

You may say that your style is fine because your numbers are great and your players all love you. But what does your manager think?

Are you the manager? Have you told Jenny to change her wardrobe, and have you asked Andy to cut out the jokes?

I remember a Director of PD with excellent numbers, and high customer ratings, who was refused a promotion to VP because the GM thought their style was unprofessional. Had the GM ever said anything? No!

As managers, we can believe our expectations are so obvious that any individual who does not conform must be deliberately defiant, or stupid. But no, as a manager, you must be clear if you are expecting Delta, Virgin Atlantic, or any other airline! And, as a PD professional, you should be sure to ask your manager if you are meeting their expectations.

At the end of the day, you only have one Captain of the crew, and they control your flight path to promotion!


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