The best way to learn - by doing
I firmly believe that the seeds of company culture are sown in the treatment of junior staff by their seniors. This is not rocket science, yet a surprising number of companies seem to ignore this basic truth. It only takes a cursory look at the dynamics of airline crews, for example, to realise if it is a good or a bad working environment. In my view, the quality of this contributes directly to how comfortable and happy customers are.
A little while ago, on a flight from Copenhagen to London Heathrow, Scandinavian Airlines demonstrated to me in flying colours that they understand how to create a good setting for learning. As the flight crew were introduced before take oOfff, Adam Eriksson from Sweden was welcomed by the senior flight attendant to his very first flight working for the airline. We, as passengers, were asked to treat him well and give him a good experience. A good learning experience, not special treatment.
After training for just one month on the ground, Adam was thrown in at the deep end, handling all the payments of the onboard food and duty free service and announcing landing and transfer information. His colleagues gave him space to work things out for himself, while being close enough to assist if needed. Looking on, it seemed a nice, calm and supportive atmosphere.
Coming in to land, Adam was invited to sit in the cockpit – a fantastic way to end his first flight. Before leaving the plane I asked him how he felt about his first time in the skies with SAS? Laughing, he said: “It was great – it really is learning by doing”. Having had quite a turbulent landing I was curious to know if, like most aircrew I have spoken to, he loves turbulence? “Yeah, it’s fun – and seeing it all from the pilot’s perspective was cool”.
With this, Adam dove straight back into his work, preparing the plane for its return flight to Denmark - with a big smile on his face.