The Product Plan
Product Plan was to improve the services remarkably so customers would get attracted to Continental. The most critical parameters of a good customer service were on-time performance, smooth baggage handling and an overall memorable flying experience for the customers. The key to such a performance was the purposeful attention of the employees on improving them, which again, as figured out by the change mangers, was keyed to the creation of incentives in that direction.
The People Plan The People Plan was intended to change the culture of Continental. Bethune felt that the way the people had been treated so far in the company should be changed and should get them to start working as a team. Importantly, the corporate goal was to change how people treated one another. The change managers thought that rewarding mutual cooperation, trust and confidence among the employees, in the place of infighting, was a priority.
As proposed by Burke & Litwin ( Cited in Wendell, and Cecil, 1999), the change programme envisioned both transformational and transactional change; transformational change addresses leadership, mission, strategy and culture , while transactional change addresses structure, systems and management practices. Implications of Change for the Organisation as a Whole Closure of operations on certain hubs and routes caused relocation of employees. Most of them were adjusted in new routes and new hubs.
Incentives for all employees for on-time performance and baggage handling challenged energised all the employees no matter what an employee’s level was. Closure of maintenance operations in Los Angels impacted 1700 lives. In most cases, employees were readjusted. Downsizing was not their goal. But change of attitude towards team work, customer service, respect for colleagues, treatment of one employee by another on par with external customers and the like had organisation-wide implications.
The pressure to comply were heightened by the performance appraisal systems and dismissing those who did not improve in line with new demands. Another the organisation-wide change was empowerment of employees, which made for responsible behaviour on the part of employees. Similarly, keeping track of performance metrics and the continuous raising of standards were organisation-wide interventions which pressurised the all the employees to fall in line. Briefly, painful implications were less and pressure for positive change was high.
Change Strategy and Interventions I present below a list of important interventions as part of change programme. He announced the closure of maintenance operations in Los Angels, since the focus of flight operations was shifted to the most profitable hubs and routes, but not in Los Angels. The decision affected 1800 people. Greg Brennerman who had long experience in turnaround was appointed as the COO and advisor. He made himself and other executives approachable to all employees and employees were invited to tour the executive offices.
The open-door policy and open houses were introduced; they excited the employees positively. He had destroyed all manuals of rules and appointed a task force to come up with guidelines which would help employees make better decisions. Employees were empowered and encouraged to do their best without the pressure of rules and their compliance. His communication was clear and adequate and in that process, he addressed all the employees and attempted to convince them about his ‘Go Forward’ plan.
All the planes were repainted so that a new image was created and a message was spread that the change was being seriously executed. A monthly bonus of $65 for each employee was announced with an eye on better customer service. Employees did not first believe in Bethune’s plan and expressed their lack of trust in such a well-sounding plan. But Bethune was clear about his message and challenged non-believing employees to leave the companies to give way to other well-meaning employees. Now a detailed discussion is presented under each functional plan.