Every time I travel through Heathrow airport I am struck by the volume of people. How many seem to be unsure about where they are going. And how many seem to be excited to be there.
My conclusion has always been that these Heathrow People are likely excited about where they are going…and unsure because they don’t really know how to get there. Sometimes I wonder how I must look. Excited…about where I am going; confident – about how. Or absent (here I go again) and distant (seen it all before).
I arrived at my departure gate just before boarding started, and was third or fourth in line. I handed over my passport and boarding pass…and saw the red light. I allowed myself a positive thought. The red light only ever means one thing…a seat upgrade. Never essential, but always nice. “Just step over here sir”, the gate attendant was saying. I re-engaged. “You have been selected for a routine secondary security check.” Disbelief (how can this be). Frustrated (surely not). Disappointed (so much for my ‘positive thought’).
It was not optional. I was walked downstairs by a very nice, but very efficient, individual and went for my secondary screen. My suitcase was clean. My computer was working. My headset fitted. My liquids acceptable. My pockets empty. My starting demeanour poor. It was just one of those moments. It seemed almost unfair. I felt so exasperated (to say the least).
And then from somewhere I heard a voice. Just one word. Engage. I smiled at the security guard who was patting down my jacket. “Take your time – I am in no hurry’, I said. He smiled back. ‘Thank you, I am nearly done.’ he replied. ‘I am sorry for any inconvenience’. I relaxed. I passed.
My seat was still there on the plane. The same one I had chosen when I checked in. Granted there was no luggage space to store my bags nearby, but I was back on my way.
Strangely enough I thought about my on-boarding experience (and my Heathrow People) several times last week. Partly because we spoke about people and experiences all week (I was attending our annual Talent Review meeting), and partly because this was my story this week when asked about my travel.
In my experience – such as it is – talent reviews tend to generate themes. We discuss all sort of groups and all sorts of skill sets; all sort of opportunities and all sorts of needs. It’s not surprising then that themes emerge over the two days. It is interesting what those themes are. And it is not often possible to predict.
One theme this year was around roles that interact with many colleagues across an organisation. And the amazing opportunity such roles have for good in an organisation. Leadership can be one such role, but there are many others. Any role which has need and opportunity to interact with a large and diverse number of other colleagues.
The right people – working in the right way – in such roles can have a significant and very positive impact on the whole of an organisation, specifically because they interact with, and have influence on, a large proportion of their organisation. Identifying these roles, and working closely with anyone in such a role, can be a great way of helping an organisation feel good and work well.
Which I guess is one of the reasons why my Heathrow Person resonated so strongly with me. He was friendly throughout our interaction. Polite. Engaging. Reassuring. I didn’t feel good as I met him. I felt much better as I left him.