Well, that didn't take long. After a firestorm of criticism, United Airlines has walked back their compensation policy change. They will not be moving to the lottery system that they had proposed to replace regular quarterly performance bonuses for employees. United President Scott Kirby issued a new memo to all employees. Here is an excerpt:
"Since announcing our planned changes to the quarterly operations incentive program, we have listened carefully to the feedback and concerns you've expressed," Kirby wrote. " Our intention was to introduce a better, more exciting program, but we misjudged how these changes would be received by many of you. So, we are pressing the pause button on these changes to review your feedback and consider the right way to move ahead. We will be reaching out to work groups across the company, and the changes we make will better reflect your feedback."
I'm certainly glad that Kirby has reconsidered his decision. Hopefully, Kirby and his team have learned that they would not have "misjudged" the employee reaction if they had simply sought feedback BEFORE issuing this policy announcement. If senior executives wanted to change the compensation program, why not consult with people on the front lines more extensively PRIOR to making the shift? The lack of an effort to solicit broad input is rather stunning. The biggest management failure here is not "misjudging" employee reactions. The colossal mistake is the highly flawed decision-making process. The Board of Directors ought to be asking penetrating questions about that process more generally, rather than only focusing on this particular policy.