A tall middle aged, dark silvery speckled, haired man walked into a small office. His aged appearance and straight face lacked emotion through his dark circled eyes. He appeared to lack emotion, emitting intimidation. His office was a tiny square filled with a large desk and computer. A chair sat on either side, a bookshelf of accomplishments, binders of company expectations and operations manuals, and the corner contained several bowling balls and bags. Walls painted with certificates and photos of accomplishments outlined the desk. I thanked him for meeting with me, and he smiled asking if I liked his teeth. My face must have cried out confusion because he laughed and told me they were his special occasion teeth. He had a sense of humor behind his intimidating appearance. I was instantly at ease.
Don has worked for the same rental company for seventeen years. He began with the company after a small bout of cancer and a herniated disc surgery forced him to resign from driving an eight-teen wheeler for the rest of his life. He began as a truck washer, but over just three months, he learned the business and developed a few innovative ideas that caught the attention of the right people. Quickly promoted to General Manager, he relocated across the country. He continued to develop other means of reaching and maintaining success for his company earning respect and recognition from the highest levels of the corporate world, including the Vice President, President, and Owners of the company. His innovative ideas were immediately implemented creating a complete turnaround in a troubled store with consistently plummeting numbers.
Recruiting, Retention, Motivation
Over the course of the first year in his position as General Manager, Don inflated profit from a low five million to a thirteen million dollars. However, he admitted, he had few loyal employees and had to work seven days a week for a very long time to accomplish these changes. Eventually, burnout landed him in the hospital before he realized he could manage operations and numbers, but he had poor staff management. He lacked the patience to deal with slow learners and others who could not learn the way he taught. He laughed as he told me he thought he was hiring only people who did not have “common sense” that confused him because his entire staff was college students attending Universal Technical Institute. When hiring, he interviewed individuals who held some mechanical background but became dependent on hiring those in school because the wage was too low for an individual with a family. His personal experience of having to work three jobs to support his family before he became a manager established his personal hiring tactic. If he felt the individual he was interviewing held some common sense and he could get along with him or her, he sent them to take the company required skills test. If the skills test was passed, the individual was hired. Recently, the company implemented a formal training programming, but before consisted of showing the individual how to do the job and let them take it from there. As the employee became comfortable in one area, he would not show them the next task until all tasks until the original was completed. He claimed the issue was that some never made it past the first aspect of the job. Others learned and promoted quickly.
His attempts at motivation did not aid in encouraging the learning. Buying lunch for a job well done makes the employees grateful but does not seem to make them eager to learn more or be more productive. He holds cookouts at the store for holidays and rewards with monetary incentives earned by the store. Don claimed in the past his efforts had positive effects, but that is no longer the case. Recently he attempted allowing the employee of the month creates their schedule, but that backfired as the employee worked only with a certain another employee. When the two work together, they are counterproductive, and the others must work harder to accommodate their counterproductivity.
According to Spector, implementing a recruiting strategy enhances the applicants capable of performing the job (2012). Walk-in applicants have a self-developed perception of what they believe the job entails (Spector, 2012). Individuals who apply on the internet receive a more accurate job description causing more valid applicants to apply (Spector, 2012). Don has no recruiting strategy other than the requirements of having knowledge in a mechanical area and enrollment as a student; both stipulations are bias, unethical, and discriminatory (Spector, 2012). Part of Don’s recruiting process is a skills assessment in which requires attaining a certain score. Skills assessment aid in hiring an employee who has enough knowledge in the field to perform at the company standard and potentially increase knowledge through proper training methods (Spector, 2012).
Employee retention rates increase and solidify with the proper training methods making employee retention crucial to maintaining a positive and consistent business (“Management Study Guide”, 2013). A training plan should be developed that effectively communicates the company expectations and the most efficient manner the task should be performed to maximize performance and productivity (Spector, 2012). In the absence of a training agenda, Don used hands-on experience as a training method. However, he lacked the creativity and adaptability to training properly employees who learned differently from himself. Developing employees was a problem area for him as he struggled to teach. A proper training program clearly defines the needs of the training and the objectives (Spector, 2012). Training should be altered to meet the learning style of the individual and rewards, or praise promote goal attainment (Spector, 2012). It is important that training consist of actual events that may occur on the job as well as repetition, so the employee reaches automaticity so the task becomes natural to the employee (Spector, 2012). When trainees set their goals and the trainer models the appropriate behaviors, the employee tends to strive harder to attain the desired goal (Taylor, Russ-Eft, & Chan, 2005). Don consistently models expected behavior for all employees, ensuring no confusion of expectation.
Motivation plays a vital role in the retention of employees (Spector, 2012). According to reinforcement theory, rewarding through incentives increases motivation and productivity in individuals (McLeod, 2015). The use of positive reinforcement promotes behavior and the use of negative reinforcement compresses undesired behavior (McLeod, 2015). Don implemented many forms of positive reinforcement, as it worked in the past for him. However, employees were nonresponsive. If Don were to implement negative reinforcement, such as decreasing hours, eliminating free meals, or even giving more constructive criticism, employees might realize, mediocre work will not receive a reward (McLeod, 2015). Eliminating a reward for negative behavior compresses that behavior and promotes the desired behavior (McLeod, 2015). Don could also implement a reward system per task completed in a set amount of time, as this will encourage more effort on the employee’s behalf. Don should continue to model the expected behavior of employees. Employees tend to mimic the behaviors they believe desirable, especially when modeled by an individual perceived as powerful (Taylor, Russ-Eft, & Chan, 2005). Modeling desired behavior may potentially increase skill development and enhance the learning process (Taylor, Russ-Eft, & Chan, 2005).
When conflict arises, Don admitted that although he thinks he handles it well, others think he handles it poorly. He listens, gives his opinion and thought, takes other opinions into consideration, but sometimes the conflict remains idle. He tends to brush it aside and continue his day. However, he appeared quite proud, that the staff was able to read his moods. His staff knows that if he is not in a good mood, it is better to stay away, allowing him to keep his anger inside rather than exploding on an employee for a small reason. However, he did share that when there is conflict among employees he avoids the confrontation. He adjusts the schedule and speaks with all involved to try and learn what has happened, but he encourages resolution among the employees or the employee found at fault receives a reduction in hours.
Don admittedly avoids dealing with conflict. The conflict in the workplace is natural as individual thoughts and opinions vary (Spector, 2012). The handling of the conflict in the proper manner identifies how effective the team will function when performing a task together. In Don’s case, then entire staff is one team, therefore if a conflict arises, there is potential for a fluctuation in performance and production (Spector, 2015). Don demonstrates cooperative conflict resolution. However, he does not follow through with ensuring the conflict is resolved. When conflict remains unresolved, it could have a negative impact on the team and production (University Alliance, 2015). Conflict resolution techniques promote a healthy working environment (University Alliance, 2015). University Alliance declares that a leader listens to all parties involved and remains unbiased through the resolution (2015). Even if the leader feels one side is right, he should not state that, but attempt to develop a compromise that will satisfy all parties (University Alliance, 2015). It is also important to promote teamwork and praise those who handle the conflict in a professional manner (University Alliance, 2015). If Don were to implement these strategies, he would likely reduce his personal stress, gain more respect from staff, and increase production in troubling times.
Interviewing Don was quite an endeavor! He holds large amounts of knowledge and skill in his company. Although he appeared intimidating, he proved to be down to earth and facing the issues many companies face. Implementing proper Recruiting, retention, and motivation techniques will ensure a more positive work environment for his company. Implementing positive conflict resolution techniques will help Don to create a more inviting and adversity accepting environment.
Management Study Guide. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.managementstudyguide.com/importance-of-employee-retention.htm
McLeod, S. A. (2015). Skinner – Operant Conditioning. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html
Spector, P. E. (2012). Industrial and organizational psychology (6th ed.). USA: Wiley.
Taylor, P. J., Russ-Eft, D. F., & Chan, D. W. (2005). A meta-analytic review of behavior modeling training. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(4), 692.
University Alliance (2015). University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. Retrieved from http://www.notredameonline.com/resources/negotiations/6-simple-workplace-conflict-resolution-techniques/#.VYjZEPlViko