Safeway Company has policies that require employees to smile at and make eye contacts with customers. Most of the customers would view this kind of facial gestures as a friendly way of doing business, but some customers might misunderstand them as a “flirt”. Twelve employees had filed complaints about this “Superior Service” policy and found it unethical for the company to have undercover shoppers to spot if there is any violator. This led to Union to get involved and suggest the company to modify the policy. However, the headquarters disagreed that the policy was the cause of the misunderstanding. And they think it is necessary to train their employees to be friendly and having the right attitude to serve their customers. Analysis of the Case
Due to the “Superior Service” Policy implemented by Safeway, customers have two distinctive correspondent inferences on the employees:
* Positive: A friendly way of doing business,
* Negative: Employee intention or attempt to flirt with the customers.
Although the cases of customers having a negative correspondent inferences on the Safeway Employees is small however it was a major concern which lead the Union to be involved and consequently the Policy to be abolished.
Q1. How, specifically, is the process of attribution illustrated in this case?
Causal Attribution is study on the causes of behavior based on the following: * Internal: based on actions for which the individual is responsible. * External: based on situations over which the individual has no control.
Majority of the customers are using Positive correspondent inferences to link the employees to be friendly. The internal causes might be the employees are friendly, helpful and socially natured individuals. On the other hand, the external causes might be the employees need to strictly follow by the Policy of implemented by Safeway, Culture and norm practiced in Safeway, fear of being sent of Smile School, part of their KPI and Job Descriptions. Certain customers are using Negative correspondent inferences to link the employees to be flirtatious. The internal causes are probably due to the “Easy going” and “very social” personalities of the employees. On the other hands the external causes are due to the recruitment and selection process in Safeway, the culture of the company.
The negative correspondent inferences might be due to the following perceptual biases:
* Fundamental attribution error
* Halo effect
* Similar-to-me effect
* First impression error
* Selective perception
Q2. What do you supposed is being done to help train people to be friendlier toward customers? In other words, what would you imagine goes on in Safeway’s “Smile Schools”?
Learning is process where a relatively permanent change in behavior occurring as a result of experience. Operant Conditioning is the form of learning in which people associate the consequences of their actions with the actions themselves. Normally the behaviors with positive consequences are acquired whilst the behaviors with negative consequences tend to be eliminated.
Observational Learning is the form of learning in which people acquire new behaviors by systematically observing the rewards and punishments given to others.
For Safeway to effectively train the employees to be friendlier, a variety of training techniques should be used. Either the training should be conducted formally in class in the Smile School and subsequently via on job training. The Smile School classes should include training on basic communication skills, greeting skills, customer relationship skills. Role Play should be included as an effective way to incorporate the transfer of knowledge and skills of the participation, reinforcement of the knowledge acquired. Participant can relate to real life experiences and trainers can assess shortcomings and provide feedback. One of the Role Play should include scenario how to handle difficult customer under various situations.
The formal training and on job training would provide both positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is the process by which people learn to perform behaviors that lead to the presentation of desired outcomes while negative reinforcement is the process by which people learn to perform acts that lead to the removal of undesired events. Training should be conducted continuous and ongoing so that it will be a continuous reinforcement in which all desired behaviors are reinforced. Reinforcement should avoid punishment and should only be used punishment as the last resort. The objective of punishment is decreasing the undesirable behavior by following it with undesirable consequences.
Q3. Describe what you believe might be the progressive discipline step outlined in the warning letter to unfriendly Safeway clerks. Once training has been completed and the desired outcomes still have not been reached, Safeway could adopt taking progressive discipline steps as illustrated in the diagram below:
It is a systematic and progressive method to reinforce the desired result. The desired result and the shortcomings must be communicated properly. Written warning must spell out what is required from the employees, what are the shortcomings, what action will be taken and the consequences.