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Various aspects have come to characterize the contemporary workplace. Application of scientific management methods and pursuit of training of employees has become the norm in the work place today.
There is, therefore, no wonder that such aspects as organizational behavior and organizational learning have taken center stage. Increased competition and consumer education and activism means businesses have to invest in research and development as well as training of employees so that they can better handle customers.
From Joe’s case, it is apparent that he relies greatly on the sales team to drive up the company’s sales volumes, and by extension, success. According to Posdakoff and Mackenzie (1994, p. 351), sales manager mainly use sales performance to determine the usefulness of a sales person in an organization.
However, many of them are increasingly considering behavior of their staff as a part of an effective functioning of a business unit. Posdakoff and Mackenzie further assert that these behaviors are discretionary on the part of the salesperson and that they greatly promote effective functioning of the unit with minimal effect on the salesperson’s level of productivity (1994, p. 351).
This discussion will focus on the Joe Salatino, President of Great Northern American case study, with the emphasis given to the importance of employees understanding people form perceptions and attributions about each other.
Additionally, there will be an evaluation of the learning theory the author feels would be most appropriate for Joe to apply in his situation. Furthermore, the discussion will explore the suggested ways on how Joe can apply the theory discussed above to improve employee performance. Also, there will be a discussion on how Joe can leverage understanding of self efficacy to ensure only most successful people join the organization.
Importance of Perception
Besides the work place perception plays an important role in human beings’ everyday life. According to social scientists, perception is a way of conceiving something and also a process of acquiring interpreting information by human mind. Additionally, perception can also be a way in which people behave in specific situations. Joe Salatino’s position gives him immense power to organizational trends.
It is important for Joe to realize that sales profession is a “people” oriented front and “people skills” are necessary for its success. The president needs to acknowledge the importance of perception in sales before instilling the same drive in his employees. According to Greve, H. R. (2003, p. 55), people’s behavior is mainly determined by what they perceive as being real or not.
He further says that distinctiveness, consensus and consistency form the main determinants of perception. According to Ormrod (1999, p. 89), little can go on in an organization without perception. Additionally, any employee in any organization needs perception that is accepted by all other employees to undertake any task.
Perception, therefore, is the key for any manager like Salatino to help employees produce better results. Ormrod (1999, p. 94) says that perception helps people in any organization to perform different tasks in different ways because an organization needs different perceptions to attain successful results.
With the above in mind, Joe must seek regular training of the sales team on issues relating to the importance of perception for better sales performance. In this case, regular training will comprise more or less of organizational learning. He should make it a priority for every sales person to understand the importance of perception for better understanding of customers.
As said earlier, organizational behavior and organizational learning are closely related. It is almost guaranteed that the kind of learning approach that an organization adopts has a huge impact on organizational behavior including aspects such as perception. Both social theory and operant conditioning theory are well suited in Joe’s approach to organizational learning.
The operant conditioning form of learning makes an employee to adjust his/her behavior depending on expected stimulus. Operant behavior is more or less an improvement of voluntary behavior that occurs in an environment maintained by its own consequences. Joe can, therefore, adopt operant conditioning especially given the fact that he believes in extending monetary gifts to keep his sales staff motivated.
However, considering the implications of social aspects in organizational behavior especially among the sales team, social learning is the most suited theory that Joe can apply in this situation.
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Most social scientists contend that social learning theory is the bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories (Ormrod, 1999, p. 104). In social learning, learning occurs through observation of other people’s behaviors and their outcomes.
Key in social learning theory is environmental reinforcement and punishing models. According to Ormrod (1999, p. 89), people in this case employee of a certain company get reinforced for modeling the behavior of other people. Four aspects characterize environmental reinforcement and punishing model.
First, the model reinforces the observer. For instance, an employee can change his/her behavior in order to fit in with the rest of the group. Secondly, a third person may reinforce the observer. For instance, an employee may copy goo habits from his colleagues and/or boss. In return, the model extends compliments to the imitating employee resulting to a reinforcement of behavior.
Third, reinforcement may come from the copied behavior itself. For instance, an employee may discover how fulfilling and rewarding courtesy to customers is to another employee. The former may result into being courteous and polite in order to experience the same rewarding and fulfillment. Fourth, there is a vicarious effect on a model’s behavior on an observer.
For instance, one employee gets complimented and rewarded for putting into use subtle sales skills learnt in a sales seminar. In return, other employees may follow suit in order to get the compliment as well.
For Joe’s employees to understand how to people form perceptions and attributions about each other, it is prudent that they model to learn from. Motivating them through operant conditioning alone is not enough. A situation underlain by social learning is better placed to help employees in understanding perceptions.
Applying social learning theory to improve performance
According to Dierkes et al. (2003, p. 251), employee behavior has to conform to workplace performance standards for successful running of an organization. Business leaders pursue organizational learning through training to enhance employees’ skills so that they can adopt preferred behaviors.
Dierkes et al. further say that social learning theory comes in handy in through provision of opportunities to observe employees with an aim of rewarding desirable workplace behaviors while punishing those that are undesirable (2003, p. 251).
Social learning theorists contend that careful observation of practices at the workplace is a primary way through which employees learn social behaviors. To improve employees’ performance through social learning, business leaders like Joe Salatino must be consistent in what they expect from employees’ social behavior.
In essence, there should be the uniform treatment and reward of all employees. Precisely, managers and other corporate leaders must be role models in providing exemplary appropriate behavior.
Through public forums and other avenues such as meetings, Joe Salatino can avail learning opportunities for employees working in the sales department. As said earlier, workplace training is crucial to organizational learning and eventual employee performance.
Poling and Normand (1999, p. 237) suggest an application of principles of social learning theory to workplace training to reinforce an organization’s desired workplace behaviors. Also, Joe Salatino can engage other successful sales employees and personalities to deliver lectures to his team in order to boost performance as well as behavior since role model admiration enhances social learning.
Leveraging self efficacy
Many people will likely adopt behavior they think they can handle with success. Additionally, employees will only struggle to achieve what they feel is within their potential. For them to undertake the above, they will need to possess high self-efficacy.
Precisely, self-efficacy is more or less self confidence an employee has towards learning (Greve, 2003, p. 55). According to Poling and Normand (1999, p. 239), individuals will choose activities they feel they have a chance of succeeding. He adds that individuals with high self-efficacy tend to excel more than those without.
For Joe to hire employees with high self-efficacy, it is imperative to put in place a rigorous interview process that will expose those employees that can better withstand the pressures of the job at hand. It, therefore, requires careful identification of potential employees with a sense of what they can and cannot do. Such employees will have a fairly precise opinion on their self efficacy.
It is highly likely that employees with a high understanding of their own self-efficacy will integrate better and are in a better position of advancing Joe’s sales agenda in the company. While some people are trainable and can deliver with consistent skills training, Joe should make demonstration of self-efficacy the core requirement of joining his company’s sales team.
Through the interview process, there is a need for Joe to investigate the background of his potential employees to his company. According to French et al. (2011, p. 125), many factors affect self-efficacy including previous successes as well as failures, feedback from other people and successes and failures of other people.
Organizational learning an organizational behavior are important parts of any organization’s corporate culture. Organizational behavior especially plays a crucial role in influencing managers’ performance evaluation. There is no doubt that these behaviors contribute to organizational success and so it is not farfetched to emphasize them in a situation like that of Joe Salatino.
Employee understanding of perception is necessary for organizational success. Furthermore, integrating learning theory to organizational learning and subsequent modification of organizational behavior is a prerequisite to organizational success.
Sales teams especially stand to gain from this approach given that they besides customer service are the face and voice of the company. It is also important to note that success of learning and development as well as change in corporate behavior greatly depends on self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the success of sales professionals.
Dierkes, M. et al. (2003). Handbook of organizational learning and knowledge. NJ: Springer.
French, R. et al. (2011). Organizational Behaviour. Chicago: Thomson’s Learning.
Greve, H. R. (2003). Organizational learning from performance feedback: a behavioral perspective on innovation an change. New York: Routledge.
Ormrod, J.E. (1999). Human learning. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall.
Posdakoff, P.M. & MacKenzie, B.S. (1994). Organizational Citizenship Behaviors and Sales Unit Effectiveness, Journal of Marketing Research. Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 351-363.
Poling, A., & Normand, M. (1999). Noncontingent reinforcement: an inappropriate description of time-based schedules that reduce behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Vol. 32, p. 237–238.