Southwest Airlines and Starbucks used various management approaches in handling issues affecting their organizations. Southwest Airlines used a contingency approach evident in the crisis management approach as well as a creative problem-solving tactic. The company also used a systems management approach to handle issues affecting it. On the other hand, Starbucks used a behavioral management approach. This approach aims at meeting the needs of the employees. The approach is evident in the dedication, compassion, and friendliness of the leader towards meeting the needs of the employees. Southwest Airlines and Starbucks used contingency, systems, and behavioural management approaches in handling issues affecting their organizations.
First Southwest Airlines took a contingency management approach. According to this approach, the most appropriate management approach in handling various issues is dependent on the situation context. Contingency approach holds that every situation has a set of circumstances that determine how to deal with that situation. It requires focusing on a situation alone (Bitmis & Ergeneli, 2011). This approach requires an organization to tailor its planning to a particular circumstance. Through a contingency approach, Southwest Airlines used three methods to handle its issues.
First is a crisis management tactic. Crisis management is an important management approach in organizations (Bundy et al., 2017). A crisis, in this case, is defined as a major threat to organizational operations which if not handled properly can cause negative consequences. Such consequences may include public safety, loss of reputation or financial loss. Financial loss can be as a result of spawning crisis-related lawsuits, loss of market share, and reduced purchase intentions (Bundy et al., 2017). In the case of Southwest Airlines, 9/11 had created a crisis where all airlines were expected to ground the entire fleet and shut down for days. Passengers, as well as pilots, ground crews, and flight attendants, were all stranded due to the terrorist attack. So, the Airline was already facing a crisis and something had to be done.
The Airline’s leadership adopted a crisis management strategy to manage the crisis and control the stranded people. Through this approach, the company was able to lessen the damage the crisis could have inflicted on it (Bundy et al., 2017). Through crisis management, the organization was able to reduce the harm that the unexpected event could have caused. Other organizations that were unable to handle the crisis were unable to succeed during a difficult time. Failure to adopt a crisis management approach can be associated with the failure of other Airlines in surviving during the difficult period (Bundy et al., 2017).
The second management approach used by Southwest Airlines is creative problem-solving. This method is associated with innovative and imaginative ways of solving a challenge or a problem (Eijs, 2017). This approach is most important when dealing with challenges and obstacles. It is considered a good approach to improving organizational productivity. Southwest Airlines was facing obstacles that could have affected its operations just as the operations of other companies were affected. With the government orders, there is no way the company would fly its customers. The big problem is that people were now stranded. Good thing the leadership applied a creative problem-solving approach to come up with viable solutions. By helping the stranded customers to have fun at the local bowling alley and at the movies, the company was able to ease the tension which made the company survive the difficult situation that the competition was unable to handle (Eijs, 2017).
Southwest Airline also used a systems management approach. Under this approach, an organization is viewed as a whole system (Allen, 2000). This means that every stakeholder is part of the whole system including customers, employees, managers, and partners. Without any of these, the system can fail under this approach. This requires that every part is taken care of to avoid collapsing of the system. In making any decision, considerations must be made on their possible effects on all parts (Allen, 2000). This approach is seen when Southwest Airlines’ leadership announced that it would keep all its employees in addition to issuing a profit-sharing payment. This approach ensured all parts are taken care of leading to a stronger system, in this case, a stronger airline.
Starbucks, on the other hand, used a behavioral management approach. This approach requires that management is concerned with individuals in an organization (Hamel, 2007). The approach views employees as human beings with human needs. Therefore, they require better treatment and enhanced motivation. This approach is seen in Starbucks when its leadership, the CEO, decided to spend a week with co-workers and families of its three employees who were killed during the robbery crisis. This approach is evident by the dedication, compassion, and friendliness of Starbucks’ leaders whose purpose was meeting the needs of his employees commonly known as partners in the company.
In conclusion, Southwest Airlines and Starbucks used three management approaches in handling issues affecting their organizations. These are contingency, systems, and behavioral approaches. While Southwest Airlines used contingency, and systems management approaches, Starbucks used a behavioral approach. However, with the different management approaches, both companies were able to handle challenges brought about by crisis situations. Both were able to emerge stronger after the crisis compared to their competitors. While Southwest emerged stronger, Starbucks emerged as more favorable.
b. How could leadership approaches integrate learning and development in the organizational strategy of Southwest Airlines and Starbucks?
A learning and development strategy that is effective enables organizations to build a rich skills base in terms of quality and quantity. This has a direct impact on the bottom line. Leadership approaches in Southwest Airlines and Starbucks need to integrate learning and development in their organizational strategies to enjoy these benefits. A learning and development strategy provides a framework of how an organization will develop skills, competencies, and capabilities of the workforce with the purpose of remaining successful. By integrating learning and development in their organizational strategy, Southwest Airlines and Starbucks will become stronger and more favorable compared to competitors. This can be done by matching organizational training to organizational strategy and then formalizing the learning and development strategy.
Leadership approaches in Southwest Airlines and Starbucks should match organizational training to organizational strategy. This is because a mismatch between training goals and organizational objectives creates resistance and unsuccessful training programs. To maximize the benefits of learning and development, the two organizations must match training goals with organizational objectives (Niazi, 2011). This involves connecting the actual learning to the goals of every company. Otherwise, any mismatch may create more friction in the organizations (Harrison, 2005). Such an approach ensures that a learning program is created that is based on a real situation on the company, which sets a framework for measuring the training impact on organizational goals. To avoid frustrations of unsuccessful learning and development programs, the organizational approaches should focus on matching training goals with organizational objectives (Harrison, 2005).
The following steps help in matching training goals with organizational objectives. First, leaders should identify the objectives of their companies (Niazi, 2011). Therefore, at Southwest Airlines, and Starbucks, organizational leadership should support training managers to first learn and identify the set companies’ objectives. Second, after identifying the objectives, the learning goals should be formulated based on these objectives. In this step, the learning goals should describe the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are required to achieve organizational objectives.
The third step is turning the set of training goals into training activities. This should also be based on organizational objectives. This is important because, basing learning activities on training goals alone may lead to missing the major point of the learning and development program (Harrison, 2005). The last step is creating the training curriculum and training materials guided by the selected activities. Organizational objectives should always be in mind. This step helps in meeting the organizational goals. Also, the leaders of these organizations should ensure that the training is imparted through the use of innovative methods. This includes the use of new technologies. Such approaches are associated with more successful learning and development programs (Niazi, 2011).
After matching organizational training to organizational strategy, leadership approaches in Southwest Airlines and Starbucks should focus on formalizing learning and development strategy. Research shows that there is a direct contribution to learning and development and achievement of business objectives (Harrison, 2005). Therefore, it is important that the organizations formalize the strategy to ensure that it is taken seriously. This is the only way to enjoy the benefits. A formal strategy will ensure that the organizations have clear visions of the objectives of the learning and development strategies (Harrison, 2005). Additionally, with a formal strategy, all stakeholders are able to see how the plans support the organizational strategy in general (Niazi, 2011). Therefore, with a clearly written learning and development strategy, organizational leadership will be able to gain more buy-in throughout their organizations.
Clearly, Southwest Airlines and Starbucks can become stronger and more favorable by integrating learning and development in their organizational strategy. This can be done by matching organizational training to organizational strategy and then formalizing the learning and development strategy. Studies have shown that learning and development programs that align with organizational strategies have a direct impact on organizational performance. This means that if leadership approaches in the two companies, match the organizational training to organizational strategy and then formalize the learning and development strategy, the organizations will be able to benefit from the strategy and become more successful compared to their competitors.