Take a look at this letter that Jeff Smisek, Continental’s CEO, sent to employees at the start of the year. Maybe it’s sad that I’m so impressed by this, because other industry CEO’s seem to prefer the “if you don’t like working here go somewhere else” approach to the “our employees are our biggest assets approach. Or the “we’re all for shared sacrifice, just not at the top” approach compared to the “cuts come from the top down” approach. As Jeff Smisek explains, “to demonstrate my belief in your ability to do just that, I am going to refuse to accept any salary or annual bonus until we make a full-year profit.” That’s what I call leadership!
Now there’s no doubt that Jeff Smisek has been compensated very well in the past and will probably continue to be, but this is a very, very nice gesture and something that should generate both goodwill among employees and customers. There’s no bigger slap in the face than taking a massive pay cut while a company is losing billions of dollars, only for the management team to give themselves big bonuses.
(Tip of the hat to Dan Webb)