There’s simply no denying that American Airlines lacks a brand purpose at this point, especially when you compare them to Delta and even United.
A bit over a year ago, a survey of American Airlines employees made it clear just how employees felt about the company. For example, 26% of employees agreed with the statement that “leaders at American Airlines make the right decisions that take care of our frontline team members.”
Obviously American didn’t like the results of this survey, so now they’ve decided to only have full surveys of employees every two years, and will instead have annual “pulse checks.”
Well, American Airlines has just launched a new program intended to engage employees, which is about as out of touch as you’d expect.
American Airlines looking for “Champions”
American Airlines is looking for employees to volunteer as “American Champions.”
Love American Airlines? Want to help spread the word about the great things your colleagues and the company are doing to take care of our customers and each other? Then we’re looking for you!
We are excited to announce American Champions — a group of team members who are passionate about making American better and living our purpose. American Champions are our strongest advocates. This select group will train to become volunteer ambassadors to support the American brand.
As American Airlines explains the concept:
Who are American Champions?
We are looking for committed team members who are energized by the idea of empowering and educating colleagues on the American brand. This is a fun way to volunteer and share your passion for American!
Team members need to have excellent attendance, be in good standing, have their managers’ support and be able to commit to the program for one year from the program launch (exact date to be decided).
What’s expected of an American Champion?
We’re asking our Champions to commit to three things:
- 2020 American Airlines Brand Experience Training where Champions will learn about our brand and the actions they will be asked to take to support American.
- American Champion touchpoints throughout the year. Organizers will hold quarterly Webex meetings and ask Champions to connect via Facebook to receive and provide information.
- Educate fellow team members and guests about the American brand and purpose. This could involve activities such as:
• Giving away items to team members to build awareness for the brand.
• Providing feedback on what you’re hearing from guests and team members about the brand.
• Working with your leaders to share brand information during staff meetings, calls, or huddles.
• Recognizing other team members for behaviors that align with our purpose.
Prospective Champions must commit to:
- Attend and actively participate in quarterly American Champions touchpoints hosted virtually on WebEx (30 to 60 minutes each).
- Post a minimum of once per month in the private American Champions Facebook group (additional postings encouraged, but not required). Potential posts could include how you and/or your teammates are living the brand? What did you do this week to care for a guest?
- Hold at least five 1:1 conversations with a teammate on the brand each month (no minimum time requirement — this touchpoint could be as short as a two-minute chat). We will provide talking points.
- Champions should regularly report comments and sentiments from these conversations through Facebook.
- Show appreciation to team members that you see living our brand and purpose by passing on and tracking recognition badges.
- Share the brand with your colleagues using the Brand Kit, which we’ll mail to you to use as a resource.
- Offer ongoing, as-needed feedback on the program’s success and challenges through Facebook and quarterly Webex calls.
- Engage in virtual American Champion challenges — based on the above responsibilities — for a chance to win swag and prizes.
American Airlines isn’t paying employees to participate, but “participation will provide unique opportunities and will help you develop a new skillset, take on increased responsibility, and embrace ownership of the brand.”
You really can’t make this stuff up. Talk about when the marketing department is disconnected from the pulse of the company:
- I’m sure the “feedback” that “American Champions” hear from guests and team members about the brand sure will be interesting.
- Exactly what brand message and purpose are employees expected to share? How much Wall Street should love American’s onboard product (even though that’s not even the case)?
- They really want to give talking points to volunteers so that they can have a 1:1 monthly conversation with other employees about how great the company is?
I find it dismaying how out of touch management is with employees. I’d love to see the talking points American comes up with here.
I can just picture Debbie and Gertrude standing in the galley, as Debbie delivers her monthly talking points conversation:
“Have you heard of all of the great things our leadership team is doing to take care of our customers and employees? Don’t you love working here?”
I’d note that all of this comes at the same time that American is in contract negotiations with both pilots and flight attendants, with the unions accusing management of intentionally stalling communications.
I’ll be curious to see if the company ends up following through on this “American Champions” project, or if it never launches due to lack of interest.
For the record, the way I found out about this to begin with is that several American employees have forwarded me this in disbelief that the company thinks this is something employees want to participate in.