I’m writing these words when sitting 30,000 feet up in the air, flying back from a conference in the US. While enjoying my tomato juice, which somehow people only drink onboard a plane, I observe the crew-members who are running around, serving food and drinks, and interacting with the passengers. It reminds me of the time when I used to be a flight attendant, wearing the suit with my name tag, while jumping between the aisles to serve my customers on the flights.
Being a flight attendant was a job with lots of advantages: flying around the world, staying over in beautiful cities, enjoying comfortable hotels, and collecting many experiences along the way. However, like any other job, there were also disadvantages: working in irregular hours, cleaning toilets, and dealing with challenging and unplanned situations. Overall, it was a great job if you are passionate about making your customers and clients happy, as you’ll also enjoy the perks
that this job brings with it.
If I could point out one element that was crucial to the whole process and defined if a flight will be a success or not, is the team itself. For each flight a different team was assembled, and while in my company there were about 1,500 flight-attendants, the chances that I’ll meet the same person twice was very small. This chance becomes even smaller in much bigger airlines.
The first time I would meet my team was at the briefing room, 90 minutes before the flight. It was always interesting to introduce myself to the new colleagues and try to imagine how the flight will look like. From experience, the success of the flight would be determined on how well the team could work together and communicate. When we were up in the air it was not dependant on our flying customers, the destination, or how advanced the aircraft was. It was all about how well we connect and work together. Working with constantly changing teams was both an advantage and disadvantage; an advantage when the team didn’t work together as I knew that on my next flight I’ll have different colleagues. However, it turned into a great disadvantage in cases where the team was simply part of me.
Working as a true team meant constantly thinking on how we can further support our colleagues to have a successful experience. We focused on the same goals and wanted that both our customers and crew members would feel comfortable during the flight. It was clear that reaching our destination would not change no matter how many smiles we’d throw around, but it was definitely dependant on how pleasant and engaging the time spent in the plan would be. What characterises a great flight? Team members think one step ahead, are in full sync with one another, and backing-up each other in varies cases. There are no intrigues, jealousy, or hard feelings. Lots of smiles, ‘thank you’ and ‘your welcome’, mutual help, empathy, and the mindset that you are all there for the same cause and if we’ll work together our experience will be much more valuable.
There was a myth amongst flight attendants that the amount of passengers defined how smooth and enjoyable the flight will be. According to this theory, flights full of passengers will be more intense and challenging, while less passengers onboard will ease the work as there will be more space and less customers to serve. Although it was partially true, I experienced difficult flights that were empty, and still have wonderful memories from very full ones. It all depended on if my colleagues were there physically and mentally together. If everyone was physically present but mentally for themselves, they were already with their minds off board.
Point to action! The power of being in a well-performing team is much more important than attributes as understanding customers or being part of a brand we can relate to. It’s all about the people that you work directly with. Therefore, try to do following: reflect on your current team and ask yourself if all the members work together, understand each other, and see the shared goals. Or does negativity, jealousy, and frustration conquer your daily work in this specific group? What is your intake? If it’s on the positive side then you’re in good hands and you’ll reach your destination safely. But if it is not the case, make sure you take the right steps towards a healthy change, as the time you’ll spend with these team-members will probably last more than a regular flight to New-York and back.