Employer Engagement

I have an early Christmas gift for you. Bina Briggs from Plain Talking HR has written a super post about an inspiring leader named Frank Pullman. This post fits wonderfully with our Heroes series, and I’m grateful to Bina for taking the time to write such a motivating piece. Take it away Bina, and thanks very much:

Over the last few days, a very popular personality of the Twitter HR Community @NeilMorrison said something like how many Execs REALLY want to know what people think? I think Neil also said something about responsibility and trust between the Employer and Employee in a Tweet discussion last week. That actually got me thinking about Employer Engagement.

In this age of keeping the Share holders happy and having business efficiencies at every level, it seems that the Senior Management expects a lot from their employees; however, often there is no engagement from the Employer. In the words of a man I admire greatly, “I think that one of the greatest weaknesses of the UK is that we focus on short term profit to the detriment of long term and deep rooted commitment that gives a greater return.”  Leading by example has almost become a cliché. Not many Senior Execs command genuine respect and affection/admiration from their employees.

However, there is always an exception to the rule and I and a great number of us working at a small airport called “Luton International Airport” were very fortunate and privileged on the day a new Operations Director came into our lives. On 6th February 1992, Francis Simon Pullman (Frank to all of us) walked on to the airport and charmed us all! Over the next few years, Frank became the Chief Executive of the Airport.

Frank’s tall stature belied his gentle, human, compassionate and genuinely warm nature. He wasn’t Mr Pullman, but Frank. What made Frank unique was that he connected with people at all levels, he listened and he acted on it.

Frank was in work by 0730 hrs every morning and by 0800 hrs, he started his round of the airport departments from the Air Traffic Control to the Airfield Operations, the Fire Service, the Terminal Building, Baggage Handling to the Cargo Centre to name a few. Frank visited all the departments scattered across the airport complex, listening to what employees had to say about every day business, he engaged people into conversation. Frank knew 800 odd employees by name and oddly enough everyone knew who Frank was! People genuinely would wave and call out to Frank as he walked round the airport.

On Christmas day, in those days, the airport wasn’t fully operational, however, it had to be staffed and so Frank used to travel up from North London to Luton, especially to visit every single department and wish everyone who was on duty a Merry Christmas. People looked forward to his visit. On one such day, my hubby was driving down on the M1 a Christmas prezzie for me when having been to the airport, along came Frank in his car in the next lane,  smiled, waved, gave him a thumbs up sign as he drove away! Well, that is another Christmas story!

Frank left the airport some 12 years ago and yet to this day, people remember him with such fondness! Many people cried openly the day Frank left the airport for pastures new.

This Christmas tale has a happy ending. I had been in touch with Frank only a couple of times in the last 12 years, and because I wanted to dedicate this blog to him, I made contact with him last Friday and I received a lovely e-mail from Frank today. The e-mail had all the compassion and warmth I remembered of the past, so here’s to Frank who knows all about Employer Engagement!  Merry Christmas everyone! xx