The Colleen C. Barrett Institute for Cultural Excellence & Customer Service

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Attracting & Retaining Employees: Hiring

At Southwest Airlines, we believe People are our greatest asset. We lovingly call our HR Department the “People Department” to remind us all of that focus. If Employees are our greatest asset, then how do we protect that asset? The Talent Management Team, along with other partners across the Company, provides opportunities that engage, develop, and retain our Employees. 

Our Team has one major advantage—we do all of this in an environment that promotes Servant Leadership with a corporate Culture that encourages a fun and collaborative atmosphere. Traditional talent management focuses on setting clear expectations and goals, making sure employees have a clear understanding of their strengths and opportunities through performance check-ins, and providing insight into career paths and areas of growth for their career. Even though we have the same focus as traditional talent management, I think what makes Talent Management at Southwest Airlines so unique is that our expectations are not just about “what” you do, but also about “how” you do it. One of our Company Values, Humility, literally references “don’t be a jerk.” Having clear behavioral Values ensures Employees and Leaders know how to conduct themselves in order to uphold the Southwest Culture. This Culture enables Employees and Leaders to develop trusting relationships. These relationships support authentic dialogues so Leaders can help their Employees succeed. 

One of the main purposes for Talent Management at Southwest Airlines is to build tools and processes (Check-ins, Competencies, and Performance Calibration) that allow our Leaders to coach Employees to meet their performance and career goals. Talent Management also supports the Employee in their unique performance and career goals, creating career growth opportunities within Southwest Airlines. I myself am a product of this career mobility. I started my Southwest career as a Talent Acquisition Coordinator and now have the privilege of leading the Talent Management function for our Company. I am super passionate about how we can continue to engage, develop, and retain our greatest asset—our People! 

Cheers to 2022 and finding additional ways to engage, develop, and retain your teams!


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Lindsey Lang

Vice President People

View Thought Leaders Recommended Resources

Do you have questions for our Southwest Leaders about what it means to Lead Well? For a limited time, you will have the opportunity to submit your questions for a Southwest Thought Leader to answer in our next Virtual Fireside Chat.

Submit your questions in the box below, and be sure to keep an eye out for an email announcing the opening of registration for the Virtual Fireside Chat!

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Colleen Barrett

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Have you ever wondered why Southwest Airlines receives such an incredible amount of media coverage? Obviously, we have a wonderful Public Relations Department making sure our accomplishments and activities don’t go unnoticed, but the mere fact that we are a “successful airline” – two words most people think don’t go together – makes us newsworthy. It also leaves us- and everything we do open to scrutiny.

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From the times I engaged with Herb Kelleher (Founder of Southwest Airlines) and Colleen Barrett (CCB Institute namesake!) early in my career, I learned from them the true value of giving your People your time and attention and seeing them for who they are instead of just the positions they fill. To me, that means you have to remember your Teams are made up of unique individuals and never forget the “Golden Rule” when you have the opportunity to connect with someone.

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If you’ve ever flown before—hopefully with Southwest!—you’re likely familiar with the inflight safety announcement to put your oxygen mask on first before attempting to help others in an emergency. Did you know the same guidance can apply to your daily life, whether professional or personal? It’s true. To be able to meaningfully care for others or lead effectively, you must take care of yourself.

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