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Joe Salatino, President of Great Northern American Case Study

Perceptions and Attributions

Perceptions and attributions are an important and inevitable aspect of human relationships. How these perceptions are managed and controlled plays a major role in ensuring either success or failure of relationships. These perceptions become particularly important in organizational situations, since the human resource department remains a fundamental aspect in determining success or failure of an organization in the achievement of its objectives. The Joe Salatino case study offers various aspects of management, which are crucial for studying the relationship between organizational performance, as well as attributions and perceptions in an organization. The organization’s employees should acknowledge the importance of perceptions and attributions, because they play a major role in the performance of their duties (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2004. Not only do perceptions and attributions influence interpersonal relationships, but also personal work relationships.

Perceptions and attributions constitute a fundamental aspect of determining the interrelationship between Joe’s employees. It is important that the employees should come to the realization of the importance of perceptions and attributions. Doing so will ultimately determine whether there will be a healthy working relationship at the workplace. Joe’s workplace is not very conducive for attaining the company‘s objectives since the employees do not have any understanding of attributions and perceptions of work performance. Certain unethical practices, such as dating between members of senior management and lower level personnel, can be witnessed in the workplace. This situation is to be avoided at all costs, since it creates an unhealthy atmosphere for the general workforce. While the relationship between senior management and lower level personnel may be purely non-work-related, it creates perceptions and attributions of favoritism in the workplace, even if they do not actually exist. Such a situation usually results in a situation in which the decisions of management regarding certain people are always second–guessed, which does not lead to a healthy work relationship (Griffin, & Moorehead, 2010).

Another important aspect of perceptions and attributions involves the way employees perceive the nature of their work and how the company is represented to the outside public. An important aspect of work at Joe Salatino is the use of technology. With the rapid improvement in technology, employees are increasingly finding themselves in a position which requires them to update their skills to avoid redundancy. Perceptions and attributions with regard to technology will determine the effectiveness of the company in the achievement of its objectives (Hellriegel, 2011). Joe’s employees need to understand the formation of perceptions and attributions in order to be able to avoid negative perceptions and attributions of technology, which will negatively impact their work. It is of particular importance that the human resource department ensures that negative perceptions with regard to technology are not allowed to flourish.

In order to rectify the negative atmosphere in the organization, Salatino may adopt a variety of psychological theories of learning in order to modify behavior of the employees. Salatino may opt for either operant conditioning or social learning in this endeavor. Operant conditioning is a psychological learning theory developed by B.F. Skinner, which modifies behavior through use of punishment and reinforcement. Social learning, on the other hand, is a psychological learning theory that asserts that behavior may be modified through observation and modeling of behavior.

Operant conditioning is an important theory in modifying behavior at Joe Salatino’s company.  The operant conditioning model is applicable to the case study, since it offers much more practicality in its approach, and because it is more effective in situations involving large groups of people. Employee performance at Salatino’s has been hampered by varying perceptions and attributions which have negatively influenced the effectiveness of workforce. Perceptions of employees towards each other and towards the work they are doing is at present at its lowest.

The most appropriate psychological theory of behavior modification applicable to the Joe Salatino case study is the operant conditioning theory of behavior. It would be particularly hard to apply the social learning theory, since modeling of behavior will not be practical. Joe may apply reinforcement, punishment and extinction in modifying behavior of its employees. The situation presented here calls for the application of both positive and negative reinforcement in order to change perceptions and attributions of employees. Joe may employ positive reinforcement through encouragement of positive attitudes as well as rewarding people who make use of technology and people who are interested in creating positive working relationships. Negative reinforcement may also be used to modify employee behavior by use of such strategies as presenting employees with tasks requiring the use of technology, thus making it necessary to learn how to use technology. A good strategy to be applied here is learning avoidance in which employees showing certain behavior are exposed to aversive stimulus such as transferring of poorly performing employees to other more demanding departments. This will cause the effect of avoidance, since the employee will want to avoid the aversive stimulus, and hence will modify their behavior accordingly.

In the application of operant conditioning, Joe should assess the effectiveness of consequences. Such factors as satiation/deprivation, immediacy, and contingency will play a great role in ensuring the effectiveness of action. Joe may apply the deprivation/satiation aspect in modifying behavior towards positive relationships among management and juniors by setting up mechanisms that deprive employees of certain benefits until certain aspects of desired behavior are manifested. Immediacy must also be employed to ensure that undesirable behavior, such as dating in the workplace, is punished, while desirable behavior is rewarded immediately in order to reinforce desired behavior (Merriam, 2007). It is also important that contingency be applied for manifestation of certain behaviors. If employees manifest a desired behavior, it is important for Joe to ensure that consequences for the desired behavior are similar and predictable, if the behavior is to be reinforced.

Technology plays an important role in determining the success of the company, and hence this is a fundamental aspect that should be taken into account in the modification of employee behavior. It is important that all employees are trained in the use of new technology, and that negative attributions and perceptions are eliminated. In this regard, the human resource department ought to ensure that the company’s employees are trained in all technological aspects of their work. Refresher courses also ought to be employed to reduce redundancy and improve effectiveness. In this regard operant conditioning will be employed in order to motivate employees who attain proficiency in their work and the use of technology. Joe ought to employ the use of rewards, such as career advancement and sponsored training, in order to achieve proficiency in technology of its employees. The use of technological devices in the sales room, such as flashing of blue lights when a deal is on, constitutes an important psychological element of operant conditioning which tend to motivate salespeople to sell more. The instance of collecting snowballs at the close of a sale is also an important element in operant conditioning, since the snowballs act as a stimulus. This way the sales force will be motivated to close as many deals as possible in exchange for commissions (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2004).

The concept of perceived behavior and self-efficacy is an important aspect that may be employed by Joe in improving employee performance. This is a fundamental aspect which managers ought to develop in employees for the attainment of organizational goals. High self-efficacy results from an increase in worker motivation in learning. To attain required employee proficiency, the perception theory needs to be applied by the senior management. Low self-efficacy results from the completion of tasks by employees who are imbued with a sense of negative outcomes, attitudes, and low self esteem (Griffin, & Moorehead, 2010). Other factors, such as the constricted self-recognition and non-achievement of goals, are major influences in non-achievement of organizational objectives. Application of self-efficacy incorporates classical conditioning, which is linked to organizational objectives that constitute the conditioned stimulus, while the working environment is the unconditioned stimulus. The combination of the conditioned and unconditioned stimulus is intended to result in a decreased or increased number of negative events caused by differential degrees of self-efficacy (Hellriegel, 2011). Joe Salatino can improve employee performance by the inclusion of practice and recognition, as well as offering of inducements that are aimed at influencing the perception of self-efficacy. This is a fundamental aspect in organizational planning processes of recruiting employees.

Joe Salatino needs to ensure that all prospective employess have been proven to have a certain level of self-efficacy and proficiency in the performance of work they will be required to do. Prospective employees will also be required to show prior record of reliability. Potential employees will be required to adapt their social learning processes to be able to understand the organization’s salesroom in the right perspective (Griffin, & Moorehead, 2010). This will ensure that employees are properly motivated and encouraged to offer suggestions to the company in order to enhance profits and sales.

Prospective employees will have to understand the organization’s performance evaluation systems. For instance, salesmen ought to know that blue lights are an indication of discounts and that they do not need to be supervised or instructed but to be self-motivated. Prospective employees ought to be proactive in their interaction with clients in order to foster a good image for the company, which will eventually boost sales and increase their own commission earnings (Merriam, 2007). The records at Salatino’s show that it is possible for sales people to earn up to $60000 if they have the desired self-efficacy. Salatino may employ self-efficacy planning in order to enhance a fixed incentives program, which acknowledges the proficiency of the sales personnel.  The prospective employees will thus be expected to exhibit and maintain the standards of performance of the company, and even excel them through appropriate planning and training received from supervisors and managers. It is important for Salatino to only hire sales people that possess high levels of self-efficacy in order to avoid escape learning, which results in employees being ineffective in the achievement of organizational goals.

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