Friday, October 02, 2015
It's not often a CEO starts his tenure with an apology, but the CEO of United has done so. He is asking forgiveness for the mess his predecessor made of a merger. Note that he doesn't name his predecessor nor does he refer to him in his letter of apology, but it doesn't take reading between the lines to see that he has thrown the previous CEO under the bus. The circumstances in this case are extraordinary. The new CEO has stated publicly that the company has lost credibility with employees who are demoralized and angry. The only way he is going to get them back is through meeting them and listening to their complaints. It seems just about everything went wrong in the combination of United and Continental airlines. The new company spent months planning the integration of reservation systems only to have them crash repeatedly discouraging agents and outraging customers. Five years into the merger, the airline is still stumbling and can't seem to find its way. No wonder he is apologetic. But, that will buy him only a few weeks before reality sets in. Customers and employees are unlikely to forgive a second time.