|Table of Contents |
Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 2
Page 1 – When Cabin Crew Tell Lies
Page 2 – Hideous Bunch of Misfits
Page 3 – Writing Performance Appraisals
Page 4 – Incompetent Middle Management
Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 4
Writing Performance Appraisals
I have to apologise but this page is quite long. I couldn’t find an appropriate point to split it.
I want to start by explaining why I wrote a performance appraisal on Bart after the flight instead of writing and delivering it during the flight which is the norm.
Over the years the way the cabin crews’ performance has been assessed has continually changed. One thing that has remained the same is that Pursers and Flight Managers have always been expected to occasionally write a more detailed appraisal.
Until the introduction of company issued iPads in 2017 these were always done by hand.
The Flight Manager’s role in recent years has become much busier. Until a few years ago we were not written into the onboard services so could use our initiative to work out where we were needed to help out. Whilst many Flight Managers worked as hard as everyone else some took advantage and did very little.
It was something cabin crew management had long been aware of. After many years of trying unsuccessfully to address the problem, the Flight Manager was finally written into the service.
For those of us who already worked hard that put us under even more pressure. My role was to supervise the running of the flight and to coach and develop both the cabin crew and Pursers. My rank also played an important role as an ambassador for the airline.
Throughout my time as a Flight Manager I would try to work in all three cabins and with as many of the crew as possible. Between services I kept myself busy and rarely sat down other than to do paperwork.
Before the introduction of iPads paperwork would take about forty minutes depending on what had to be written. In recent years the company worked hard to reduce the amount of paperwork. That enabled the Flight Manager to spend more time being an effective coach and leader.
Many long haul inbound flights fly through the night. Writing a performance review whilst tired was never easy. Some flights could be so busy there simply wasn’t time to do anything more than the standard performance appraisal.
Some years ago after a flight during which I’d had an issue with a crew member, I wrote a review on her once I was home. I had spoken to her during the flight but didn’t have time to document what had been discussed.
After arriving home and having slept, I wrote a detailed review which I sent to her, her manager and copied in my manager. It has always been policy that a crew member’s manager be copied in a performance review.
From then on I occasionally wrote reviews from home if I felt they were necessary or deserved. I still did the standard performance monitoring that had to be completed during the flight. That was returned with the rest of the flight paperwork at the end of the flight.
More recently the system changed and all performance appraisals were done on iPads. The reviews I wrote from home were an additional review.
The screenshot below shows ALL performance reviews that I ever wrote from home. I was a Flight Manager for nineteen years. Only one of those was constructive, the rest were all positive.
The crew members always emailed me back to thank me for taking the time to write the assessment.
Only two crew members failed to do that. The first was the person who received the constructive review, the second was a relatively new crew member who worked in First Class. She had worked hard and had done a great job. Being relatively new she still had much to learn so I wrote a review praising what she had done well and offering some guidance on how she could improve.
Despite it being mostly very positive she never replied.
The following screenshot comes from Bart’s grievance. His comments are in blue, mine are in green. I was asked to respond to his complaint as part of the investigation. Once again his comments were not deemed to be rude of offensive.
This is the closing paragraph of my performance review on Bart. He added “bullying; discussed with other crew” in green plus the the text in blue. The second paragraph in green is my response;
The reason his performance appraisal was completed by Katrina was because with him working in First Class, the Purser in that cabin is responsible for doing it. It only appears on her iPad.
The only way I could have done it would have been to complete it on her iPad. Doing that would be a breach of confidentiality because Katrina would be able look at what I wrote.
Considering she had been with the airline for a similar amount of time as Bart, I didn’t feel that was appropriate. According to his complaint he was given 10/10 by Katrina on both sectors.
The following is from T’s witness statement;
Katrina didn’t mention that in her witness statement because it isn’t true. We spoke extensively throughout both sectors about the role of Purser. Lottie made a direct reference to that in her witness statement.
Having flown as a manager with another airline for many years, Katrina took an interest in her development and was keen to learn. I was happy to share my experience with her which is part of my role as a Flight Manager.
Regarding trying to get her to give feedback to other crew members on their performance, Claire who was working in First Class was Katrina’s best friend. She was very experienced and needed no coaching. Lottie was also very experienced and more than capable of carrying out her role to a very high standard.
I spoke to Bart myself several times during both sectors about the way he was delivering the service. That only leaves Bruce who was in the galley. I also spoke to him about the way he was presenting the food (see previous link. You may need to scroll up or down slightly). They’re the only crew Katrina was responsible for doing feedback on.
One thing to remember is T is friends with Anna, Bart’s fiancée. His witness statement was strange. Some of his answers were simply not true like the comment about me trying to get Katrina to give feedback to crew about their performance.
This also comes from his statement;
Bear in mind Katrina had only been cabin crew with the airline for just over a year. She was working up as Purser in First Class for the first time in a challenging and demanding environment. One of her team was an inexperienced crew member (Bart) and another was running the galley, badly.
Allowing someone to work up means guiding them without taking over. That’s what I was doing and she didn’t have a problem with that. She states that herself in her witness statement.
I didn’t need to manage First Class directly, I was overseeing Katrina doing that and she was working extremely hard. Ven was working in Premium and despite being the vile dishonest creature that he is, he had everything under control. He certainly wasn’t doing the First Class Purser position.
Regarding managing the flight, I was the only person on the aircraft capable of doing that. I’m not sure I would have managed quite as well without assistance from Ven.
In Voice of Customer questionnaires returned after this sector, in First Class we were marked “excellent”.
The following screenshot comes from my defence. It was included in the grievance I raised against the company for the way the entire matter had been handled. The orange text is crew member T replying in his witness statement.
The line manager who received the grievance replied immediately. She told me she was leaving the business at the end of the week but would forward it to her boss. That was the Chief People Officer.
I also sent individual grievances against Bart, Anna, Mia, Ven and Peter to my manager. I never heard back from anyone before being made redundant.
Had I completed Bart’s performance appraisal using Katrina’s iPad as two managers and the Head of Cabin Crew expected, apart from being unprofessional I believe I would have been in breach of data protection laws. I also believe it was not appropriate to discuss Bart’s performance with Katrina.
Katrina wasn’t a trained Purser she was working up in the rank. She had only been with the airline for a couple of months longer than Bart. Despite that the Head of Cabin Crew expected me to discuss his performance with her.
I spoke to Bart about three serious failings in regards to the way he delivered the service. When I wrote his appraisal I added additional minor points that I noticed but had not been discussed with him.
The following comes from the outcome of the appeal investigation carried out by the Head of Cabin Crew.
At no time did I discuss Bart’s performance with any member of crew although he does accuse me of doing that in his complaint. T then says in his witness statement I was trying to get Katrina to give crew members feedback on their performance. She gave Bart 10/10 for both sectors in the appraisal she completed on him on her iPad.
Remember T and Bart’s fiancée Anna were good friends and I proved without doubt collusion had taken place.
The following screenshot comes from the appeal I submitted to the Head of Cabin Crew. I previously referred to her in my blog as senior manager xx. In the first paragraph I’m talking about crew line manager Hayley who conducted the disciplinary meeting.
I wrote hundreds of performance reviews during my nineteen years as a Flight Manager. Almost all of those were written and delivered to the crew member during night flights.
The few I wrote from home in more recent years were written because I was too exhausted to write anything constructive during the flight. As already mentioned, these were additional reviews, not the standard performance appraisal that had to be completed.
Performance reviews have always been copied to a crew member’s manager and my own manager. This was not as Bart stated in his complaint an underhanded tactic to damage his reputation or promotion. Nor was it a deliberate attempt to cause trouble and jeopardise his position for future promotion.
Those comments demonstrate he has no understanding of the reasons why performance feedback is written. Nor does he understand the role of a “Performance and Development Manager”. For that matter I’m not sure Performance and Development Manager Lana and the Head of Cabin Crew understand that either.
Considering all twelve reports I wrote from home were copied to my manager and the crew member’s manager, I never received any criticism about words or language I used. I was never asked not to send a copy to the crew member’s manager and was never asked not to write them.
Every report I ever wrote on the aircraft was also copied to the crew member’s manager. That’s standard practice and always has been.
Bart said he found my use of the words “quite why” ridiculing and condescending.
His complaint regarding my use of the words “quite why” was upheld by crew manager Lana who initially investigated the complaint, by crew manager Hayley who conducted the disciplinary meeting and by the Head of Cabin Crew who heard my appeal.
Bart states he felt targeted by me and felt there was an underlying reason why I copied in his manager. Lana told him during their meeting she would ask me why I felt it necessary to do that! She’s a Performance and Development manager (crew line manager) yet doesn’t feel it’s necessary to receive constructive feedback that has been written on a crew member who’s still in probation.
The following comes from evidence submitted as part of my defence;
I find it absolutely incredulous this crew manager said that. It’s company policy and always has been yet during my meeting with her, she asked me why I felt it necessary to copy in his manager.
Worse still, a second manager and even the Head of Cabin Crew agreed with her. Despite asking in all three meetings and in my written documentation whether policy had changed, nobody answered the question.
Clearly I had been doing something very wrong for nineteen years yet nobody ever addressed it with me.
The following comes from a company policy manual;
In his complaint Bart refers to me as inflexible, robotic and only wanting things to be done my way or face the wrath of a long-winded email.
He goes on to say “I am open to feedback but to include my manager in a manner which he did was an underhanded tactic. This could have seriously damaged my reputation, average scores and progression aspirations in the future.”
I didn’t want things to be done “my way”, I wanted them to be done as they’re written in the Service Procedures Manual. That was part of my job as a Flight Manager.
I find it incredibly disrespectful to refer to a performance review written by an experienced manager in his own time for the purpose of development as “long winded”. But then Bart also refers to my service delivery procedures as “excessive and long winded”, my P.A’s as “long winded and rambling” and wrote elsewhere in his complaint “I felt Laurence was speaking in a long and rambling tone and there was no need for him to lift a policy and send it to me”.
This is someone who had been with with the airline for eleven months and was still in probation. In line with the anti-harassment and bullying policy I found all of his statements personal, highly offensive, disrespectful and gave no consideration as to how I may feel when I read them.
The reason I say “how I may feel when I read them” is because crew manager Lana states I did not give appropriate consideration to how Bart may feel after having received the performance review I wrote on him. Crew manager Hayley and the Head of Cabin Crew agreed and the complaint was upheld.
What sort of a society are we living in if you can’t write a courteous but constructive performance appraisal on someone because it may hurt their feelings?
How does anyone “feel” when they’re given constructive feedback even when it’s delivered face to face? Bear in mind feedback is usually delivered towards the end of a long night flight when the crew are extremely tired and jetlagged.
I sent Bart his performance appraisal more than twenty four hours after we landed home. By that time he would have been very well rested.
I want to mention something that I’ll talk about in more detail in the next chapter of my blog. Despite asking cabin crew manager Hayley in writing to be mindful of when she sent me the outcome of her disciplinary investigation, she sent it to me three hours after I landed home from the company’s first flight to Tel Aviv.
Having seen the outcome, because of the trip I had just been on and how I was feeling at the time I came very close to taking my life.
In the outcome to my appeal conducted by the Head of Cabin Crew in regards to this matter she said;
She says Hayley was conscious of how long the process had taken and wanted to ensure I didn’t wait any longer than necessary. I had waited six weeks to receive her outcome letter. Waiting another twenty four hours before sending it wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference.
The following comes from Bart’s complaint. When reading it remember he had only been with the airline for eleven months and was still in probation.
“I believe Laurence is very clever with the wording of his email. He structures it to appear as “constructive feedback” when in fact it is personal, bullying and targeted.
He hides behind written feedback and fails in his role as FM to deal with any issues in the moment or face to face. Instead he has chosen to write long-winded emails during rest days when most of the crew were celebrating their Christmas causing undue harassment, distress and jeopardising a healthy work-life-balance, negatively impacting my mental health.
Laurence’s feedback is disguised as constructive but is cleverly worded. I believe it is personal, bullying unwarranted harassment. I believe Laurence regularly behaves in this manner but due to the nature of crew not regularly working with the same FM, it has gone unreported. I feel I have a duty to report this bullying behaviour and request a full investigation, followed by an appropriate sanction.
Laurence did not allocate positions on the ipad which led to no crew member being able to score or provide feedback to him. I believe this is a deliberate action which he has completed in the past.
I have discussed this with the union and they agree, it seems an intentional way of stripping the crew of any opportunity to provide much needed feedback to the company and Lawrence.”
None of these comments were deemed to be offensive by two cabin crew line managers and the Head of Cabin Crew. My use of the words “quite why” in Bart’s appraisal were considered to be offensive.
Having spoken to the union I was told they said nothing of the sort. Bart did speak to them about the performance review and was advised to go through mediation.
To repeat what I have already said previously, I spoke to Bart numerous times on both sectors of our flight. Regarding the issue of not putting working positions into the iPad, that has already been covered.
You’ll see “bullying behaviour” when you read his grievance in full and statements written by Ven and Anna. You’ve already seen a few excerpts but they’re nothing in relation to what’s to come.
During my nineteen years as a Flight Manager I wrote several constructive performance reviews. I never informed a crew member in advance I would be writing a review on them. Once it was written I sat with them and went through it. In all cases but one (two including Bart’s) that was done on the aircraft.
That one exception was on a flight where I didn’t have time to write the review. I felt the matter needed to be documented so wrote it from home.
With the new performance feedback system on the iPad it wasn’t possible to write more than a couple of short paragraphs. Having raised that with a manager in the office he told me if a longer review is required it should be written by hand.
Having written this constructive review from home, I sent the following email to the crew member’s manager. I wanted to ensure he was around before sending the review to her.
The screenshots below are self explanatory. I have blackened out some detail for confidentiality.
The following comes from minutes taken during the appeal meeting with the Head of Cabin Crew. As mentioned previously, I spoke to Bart about things he did incorrectly on the both sectors but didn’t tell him I was going to write a review. I didn’t know myself until I was home and had rested.
I also praised him for something he did well which he makes reference to in his complaint.
The following comes from the company’s procedures manual;
Despite still be in probation Bart told his manager he wanted the matter to be dealt with as a grievance. He also said and I quote, “I expect the maximum sanction” and “am happy for that to be as severe as loss of employment for Laurence.” You may need to scroll down slightly in the previous link to see the second screenshot.
Our inbound flight from Atlanta to London was exceptionally busy and I had many challenges to deal with. I was also exhausted because I didn’t feel I could take a break on either sector.
The crew all had rest breaks in the bunks on both sectors.
Had there been two Pursers on the flight in the first place which there should have been, I would have had some support and things may well have been very different.
In line with company policy crew rest breaks must be split into three shifts. Many Flight Managers still do them in two because it’s neither practical or necessary especially on night flights to do them in three.
I did breaks in two on both sectors. Despite Bart, Anna and Ven complaining about every single aspect of my conduct, behaviour, performance and professionalism, not one of them mentioned breaks being split into two instead of three.
Of course this was mentioned numerous times in my defence documentation but like so much else, fell on deaf ears.
When a Flight Manager or Purser writes a constructive review it’s then discussed with the crew member. In the vast majority of cases that will be towards the end of a long and/or busy night flight.
The Flight Manager or Purser and the crew member are likely to be tired, jetlagged and probably not in the best frame of mind.
When delivering this type of review I often ask one of the Pursers to be present as a witness. Had I spoken to Bart on this flight about his overall performance I would not have done that because both Pursers were the same rank as him but were working up.
I did however speak to him about missing a customer out at breakfast in the presence of Katrina who was the First Class Purser.
Considering the vile nature of his complaint, I strongly believe that had I sat and spoken with him during the flight about writing a review he still would have submitted a very similar complaint.
The following is from documentation submitted as part of my grievance against the company for the way the matter was handled. Bear in mind my flight to Atlanta landed back into Heathrow on 26th December 2018.
I sent Bart’s review to him mid afternoon on the day following our flight. We had landed the previous day at 07.00. The following comes from minutes taken by Employee Relations Consultant Pedro during that first investigative meeting.
This next screenshot comes from documents I submitted as part of my appeal heard by the Head of Cabin Crew.
This is the email sent by Bart to his manager. It’s followed by other correspondence that’s self explanatory;
The reason Bart didn’t want to go through mediation was because having told a pack of lies he knew how difficult it would be to uphold his version of events in a face to face meeting with me.
He also wouldn’t have wanted to come face to face with me at cabin crew check-in or for us to end up on another flight together.
In witness statements supplied by other crew members, nobody confirmed they were aware of me treating Bart any differently from anyone else. They also confirmed they were unaware of me ignoring or excluding anyone at any time.
The following comes from the witness statement of crew member Mia. She came to the front with T to help with the dinner service on the inbound flight;
Despite feeling stressed I remained professional, polite and friendly.
In T’s witness statement he said “I do not recall seeing any communication directly between Bart and Laurence”.
The following comes from Anna’s witness statement. Remember at the time she was Bart’s fiancée. She says ” I did not personally witness this” then goes on to paint a detailed picture of what apparently was going on. I genuinely believe Anna is a fantasist and a sociopath.
Nothing unusual was noticed by Katrina, Claire and Lottie who worked alongside Bart and I. The Captain and First Officer were also unaware of any unusual behaviour.
In her witness statement Lottie said nothing about me picking on Bart or any other member of the crew. Nor did she have any concerns about my ability or competence as a Flight Manager.
Anna spent about three minutes at the front of the aircraft and that was just on the inbound sector. She says herself she did not witness any of this personally.
In the initial grievance investigation carried out by crew manager Lana she said the following in her outcome document;
It’s important to remember the inappropriate touching allegation against me was upheld by the Head of Cabin Crew based solely on evidence from the witness statements of Anna and Ven. Nobody else including Ven, saw me or was aware of me touching anyone inappropriately, apart from Peter.
In his statement he claims Mia told him I had been “quite physical on a few occasions” yet in hers she writes I touched her leg whilst she was in First Class.
What Mia wrote in her statement despite being a blatant lie should not have been considered as evidence. She has clearly stated she does not wish the matter to be taken further.
In Bart’s review I reminded him when working in First he must remember to check on the flight crew regularly (Captain and First Officer). Needless to say he argued that he did and even stated he “served them their food.”
The following comes from evidence submitted as part of my defence. This text comes from correspondence I sent to crew manager Lana the day after the first investigative meeting. Witness statements had not yet been requested from the rest of the crew;
Witness statements provided by the Captain and First Officer showed neither had any recollection of being served by Bart. Both had a copy of the photograph taken of the entire crew before we left the hotel in Atlanta.
Considering what Bart wrote in his complaint, as a “fairly confident” ex police officer of eight years you would have thought he would have mentioned the following allegation to the Captain and First Officer at some point during the flight. He could have done that whilst serving them their food!
Our inbound sector was seven hours forty three minutes so he had plenty of opportunity to go and speak to them. Needless to say they were unaware of any such behaviour.
The following screenshots come from the witness statement of crew member T who was working up as Economy Purser. He came to the front several times during the inbound sector and helped out during the dinner service.
Despite saying this, elsewhere in his witness statement he says “I do not recall seeing any communication directly between Bart and Laurence”.
The remaining three crew members in First Class state they saw no unusual behaviour between Bart and myself.
Despite Bart being so vocal about my ability, he forgot to mention the inappropriate touching or that he felt he was being bullied. T states elsewhere in his statement that he was totally unaware of any inappropriate touching towards himself or anyone else.
I spoke to Bart several times during both sectors about his performance but more so during the inbound flight. That was because he was struggling to keep up with the services and did not do the breakfast service as it should be done. As a result a customer was missed out.
One of the main issues was he lacked any sense of urgency. The service was incredibly busy, customers were demanding and Bart was lagging way behind his colleagues.
The following comes from Lottie’s witness statement
I understood he was still relatively new so was trying to guide and help him as much as I could. The service should never be rushed but you need to work at a fair pace. This is why when Mia arrived I asked her to help on Bart’s side.
Here’s another screenshot from Lottie’s witness statement. She was an experienced crew member who had been with the company for about eight years.
It saddens me to think the crew felt I came across as patronising because that would never have been my intention. With upward feedback having recently been introduced I’m sure if this behaviour was noticed on other flights it would soon have been brought to my attention.
In feedback I received in the twelve months prior to being made redundant which was written anonymously, nobody mentioned anything about me being patronising.
I think maybe on this flight it came across that way because the environment was incredibly stressful. With the situation the way it was I was being more assertive than I would normally be but that clearly came across as patronising.