Southwest Airlines: Organizational Commitment and Communication
Southwest Airlines’ strong organizational culture is reflected in its mission as shown in its website: “dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. ” Southwest is a company that not only excels in customer service and profitability but also in employee development. Its organizational commitment is not reduce to the organization; it is actually expand it to an ongoing relationship with the employees where they have the opportunity to express their ideas, suggestions and concerns.
This organizational culture has made Southwest Airlines one of the companies with the fewest customer complaints, and an employee turnover ratio of less than 10 percent (D’Aurizio, 2008). The same strong culture Southwest Airlines has built over the time is supported by every employee who has in mind that they have to deliver a warm and friendly assistance to their customers. Southwest management’s strategy could not be any better; the management treats employees as family, expecting from the employees to treat customers like family as well.
The company is characterized for having a decentralized structure. In between the CEO and the frontline supervisors, there are only a few levels. Their philosophy on structure is very relaxed. Any employee who feels the need is welcomed to contact someone above their supervisor. The president has three executive vice presidents who each have five or six vice presidents who report to them. There is one vice president of Internal Audits and Special Projects who reports directly to the president. (Rivera, Cornwell, Abenes, 2003)
The Southwest culture creates and integrates a dedicated and motivated workforce that succeeds together. The owners’ leadership style is led by example; that is how Kelleher treats his employees, like family, he is open to communicate and he also knows the vital role in forming this unique culture. Before people become employed at Southwest, the managers in charge of the hiring interview make sure they embed the organizational culture in the candidates. When they become part of the Southwest family, then they are treated like part of it.
Any event in the lives of the employees are acknowledged and celebrated by everyone, everyone cherish for the success and happiness of the members of the family. The company establishes special programs for families of employees. The company listens to comments and feedback, not only from employees, but also employees’ families, customers, and vendors (D’Aurizio, 2008). This company has become profitable by putting into practice the philosophy of an open communication. Southwest does not have the culture only in paper, they actually live it.
The managers start giving the example to the employees, and they follow their leaders. Southwest strategically generates satisfaction to their employees, this needs satisfactions will later reflect and convert into satisfaction to the customer and shareholder value via organizational capabilities I believe the success of Southwest Airlines comes from the combination of different sources of power. Part of it comes from the expert power, and also from the reward power. Southwest management had has the ability and knowledge to create such an amazing organizational culture, this ability is the expertise power.
Now the way they have applied the idea into real actions, the fact that they led by example and treat the employees as family is the reward power. The management has gained the respect, trust and loyalty from their employees. This is because of what they have done not only with words but more important with actions. Concerning the communication aspect, this plays an important role in the organizational culture of Southwest Airlines and the way the employees perceive that culture.
The website Reference for Business (2009) explain how the contend of a message send will be perceive in different way by every individual. Each person gives their own personal meaning to the message received. This also happens due to the experience, the receiver makes sense out of a message based on experience. No one can perceive experiences in the same exact way as another does. Each individual has a unique set of experiences, a unique perceptual “filter,” that helps them to understand or interpret messages received.
These filters are built over time by each individual person according to their childhood background, and the life experiences. Finally, we can say that the combination of the message received and he experience of the receiver is what makes an interpretation of the message. This is the reason why Southwest management emphasizes in a clear and concrete communication. They know how some messages can be easily misunderstood or twisted on the way. And this is the reason why they keep an open communication to the employees.
Allowing questions when the message was not clear, as well as allowing suggestions when the employees do not agree. The challenge for every organization is how to create a great channel of communication that will enable employees to comprehend messages in the way they were originally intended to be transmitted. According to Beebe and Masterson, “conflict in a group occurs when members disagree over two or more options that a group can take in trying to make a decision, resolve a problem, or achieve a goal” (Chapter 7, p. 69).
Other types of conflicts can occur as a result of differences in goal. Now, the good news about conflict is that it can be use in a positive way contrarily to the popular belief that states that a conflict should always be avoided. Southwest Airlines, for example, could use conflict to challenge their employees to research, or come up with ideas of how to resolve some specific issues, problems. Additional researches will help to determine a better way to fix problem that are costing a lot of money to the company.
The commitment of Southwest airlines is to a culture that motivates, empowers and promotes employees to make the company one of the best companies to work for, as well as one of the most profitable one. One of the most important tools this company uses is the open communication and the in-house advancement that encourages a positive perception of company culture, allowing employees the opportunity to express ideas, suggestions, concerns that Make them believe they are part of the Southwest “family”.
Southwest best strategy is the commitment not only to the organization itself but also to the employees. Everyone there is part of a big family who works hard to keep harmony n within the family. They use great leadership styles where the managers led by example and they are always open to any communication. This company should be use as example as what it is to build a great culture and a great organizational commitment.