No doubt SWA’s success is because of their people. In post #5, we’re talking about Jose Luis Romero’s article Southwest Airlines Employee Motivation – hiring. More specifically, how does SWA’s philosophy compare with the practices within the government. Ultimately, is it possible to have great customer service within the government?
5. Hiring. Historically in civil service, the government jobs have always been considered stable, well-compensated and safe…(I said historically!!). Because the jobs were very desirable, many government jobs regressed to what’s now called the “spoils system” where anytime a new politician would be elected, he would put his cronies into the government jobs.
To avoid this, the Federal Gov’t introduced the Pendleton Act which provided for a Federal system of job classification and required that people be placed into those positions based on merit. That means, only the skills needed to do the job can be measured to determine whether a person is eligible to be hired. Local gov’t soon followed suit.
Basically, if your job requires the skills of entering data into the computer and walking over to the printer, you can’t be screened out because you’re Negative Nancy…there has to be a valid, legal reason.
Now that I’ve given you the rundown on government hiring, let’s talk about Southwest. SWA has a very thorough hiring process and takes it very seriously that the culture is king. As a matter of fact, they advertise “Hire for attitude Train for skill.” Wanna know who they hire?
In the government, because of regulation (Congress), we do exactly the opposite. Government hires for skill (legally, that’s all we can hire for) and hope to train the attitude. (This does explain how we get a few bad apples)
Before you jump me, let me explain why…
If we allow managers to choose the attitudes they think are good, here are the arguments you’ll hear…in front of a judge:
1. Why did you say my attitude was bad? You took him and he’s worse than me. I bet it’s because he’s a man.
2. Maybe you don’t like my attitude b/c I’m a minority…
3. You just liked his attitude b/c he’s your buddy…
Nutshell, that’s why the system was formed. I don’t like it…actually, I hate it…but I understand why it exists.
My question to you: how can we change it?
Would you go to work for the government and take on the challenges? Is it worth it?
Can we train the attitude once we’ve hired the skill? Are you okay with more of your tax dollars going to fight legal fights over discrimination lawsuits b/c they’re trying to hire for attitude?
I’d love to hear what you think.