More on defining Organizational Culture…(PPC and more)

More on defining Organizational Culture…(PPC and more)

We have a host of authors within our book by Kersten and La Venture  1 that exposes the various definitions of organizational culture. There is a theme that emerges based on shared core values, beliefs, and principles.  This hints at behavior and how that behavior is communicated to a greater audience (p. 2-3).  That behavior exists within and outwit the company.  It governs the day-to-day operations and the lives that work within that community.  Yes, a community.  Marriott views their associates as a greater family.

Core Values
Core Values of the School of Hospitality Leadership
Yet, as I decipher these words, I am left with one thought, one word.  Service.  Servant leadership is a common phrase we hear about the university, and incorporate it in our culture.

The definitions of organizational culture are incomplete without the inclusion of servant leadership or service.

You may be thinking:  But it is all apart of that definition, when you argue for that commonality of themes within organizational culture.

Yes, and no.

Service is inter-woven and stands alone.  Why?  Maybe it should be the overriding concept?  See still in a heated debate.

Maybe if we address behavior.  Behavior is action.  Behavior is developed with immersion with in a unique place.  That place has three environments–physical landscape (natural/man-made environment), economic and socio-cultural.  Everyone is a product of their own three environments.  A host of variables will define those environments and shape how your beliefs are formed from the roots of those variables.  Core values remain, but the breadth and depth of those values shifts and adapts, matures and grows over time.  Some of those core values will stick with you and others you will shed with maturity, personal growth and reflection.

Life happens.

You bring these dynamics into any company.

Each individual of a society makes up the culture.  I am getting away from service and need to bring it back.  We will get to culture shortly.

Warning, service has a broad definition.  For this argument, service is the want to do something for someone else.  Not just because we have to, but because we want to.  It is the right thing to do.  We have within our hearts the want to help.  And that does have its hang ups.  We are after all human and considerably flawed.

Some have this ability to help more than others.  They have this innate compassion to such a degree that it is second nature.  No questions are asked.  Deep down we all do, but we are stymied by our own fears.

That is why I want to call it a service heart.  Some would label it as the heart of service.  But several colleagues and I have been gnashing on changing that.  I’m sure that phrase has been around for a bit.  And anyone can develop a service heart.

We have come to that conclusion that that phrase incorporates those core values.  In tourism, we have a lot of choice in products.  Some similar, some different.  What creates competitive advantage now and in the future will be the service. The human element.  People will want to return because of the people helping them fulfill their expectations.  Because we want them to return ‘home’ to us again and again.  Thus, our behavior is paramount to fulfilling the expectations of our stakeholders.  All of them.

So, at the heart of organization is a culture.  We should hold commonality, without the lost of identity.  That is something that isn’t really articulated within our first readings.  Identity.  We each bring our own sense of self to the work environment.  I have posed this question before.  How do we retain our own sense of self in a workplace that may or may not have the same common values as our own.  Today, we are seeing disparity in our society.  Not all of us possess the same beliefs.  We have our own unique cultural attributes that we bring into a workplace.  How do we mesh this divergence?  Some are not always the same.  Should we or should we not ask people to change that culture to conform (shudder) to that workplace culture?  Do the mission and vision of a company posses the flexibility to handle various cultural nuances?

Acculturation exists in tourism.  Simply defined, it is the moment when two or more cultures meet and something happens.  You can either have assimilation of one culture with another.  Yes, there may or may not be dominance of one over another.  The second may be nothing happens.  Or friction.  There is too much difference that problems occur.  Could we now extend this concept into the workplace because of the diverse backgrounds of our employees.

So, maybe I should hint at diversity.  Diversity, in its simplest terms, is about the difference in a workplace.  It identifies that difference and should be embraced. We can all contribute to our workplace. Yet, the definition is limiting to us in trying to understand that difference and how to handle it.  It doesn’t get to the heart of everything.  It doesn’t offer strategies.  Laws aren’t strategies.  There is still some mysticism with diversity.  If we extend diversity and marry it with the concept of cultural intelligence, especially when working in a global world, we can develop strategies and broader, better behaviors to handle that diversity.  Remember these are my interpretations of my own readings and research.  Don’t take it as face value.  What kind of Socratic professor would I be, if I didn’t ask you to think for yourself.  Read, digest, understand and reflect.

Culture today is so much greater, broader in definition than what some might think.

This is when I tell you that I hate definitions.  I think they are limiting.  I don’t think they encompass the expanse of variety that exists.  Yes, we need a foundation on which to start.  But how many of us stop and do not explore the many layers, the breadth and depth of those definitions. Culture is one of those definitions.  That is why later on in the semester we will be examining Cultural Intelligence.

The discussion continues…

Footnotes

1. Kersten, J., La Venture, Kelly, Lui, Katherine E. Welch, & Cervenka, Debbie. (2015). The human factor to profitability : Building a people-centered culture for long-term success / Jeanette Kersten, EdD, SPHR, and Kelly La Venture, EdD ; with a foreword by Kat Lui, PhD, and Debbie Cervenka. (First ed.).

“What Now?” Moment…

“What Now?” Moment…
Time
Don’t let time be the enemy

As I have explained in the post Developing Managers, meeting planning is all about project management.  It doesn’t matter how the sales lead is generated, how you come by the business, it comes down to managing time.  It can be your breaking point. Therefore, preparation is vital.  Success hinges on lining up those ducks in their right positions, and having enough flexibility for problems.

Today, marks the middle of the second week of classes, and for the next six weeks my students will be given information about their scenarios.  I enjoy this time, creating this reality of challenges.  This journey isn’t easy.  Life isn’t always a bed of roses.  They will have to think, use their respective brain power to sort out the twists and bumps.  And this morning, I barked a laugh at my latest creation.  One group will not be happy.  Welcome, to real life.  I hope they have listened to me over the course of their time here.  I hope they remember that I just don’t sit in my office during office hours and at other times for nothing.  I hope they have that epiphany.

[Knocks on the glass] “Hello, anyone out there!  Any of my students?  Hello?”  Questions.  It comes down to asking questions.  Don’t assume anything.  One lesson you must learn as an event planner is don’t assume you know what the clients want.  You don’t.  You may think you do, but in all reality, you don’t!

Get off your respective posterior and come and talk to me.  One requirement of my meeting planning class is they have to meet with me eight times over the course of the sixteen weeks to discuss their projects.  Everyone has to be there unless their team leader and I approve the excuse.

Hopefully, by now they have identified their roles and responsibilities.  There has to be a team leader, one that will be responsible for getting the job done–the broader goal.  The others will be accomplishing the objectives or individual tasks to get to that broader goal.

How they start is up to them.  Have they researched the craft of meetings?  Have they cruised around their books, the Internet or other sources to understand the process?  Are they waiting to be told?  I hope not.

Floppy Disks
Floppy Disks

My time in event planning and sales was during an era when paper ruled the desktop.  I started out as a sales coordinator.  A glorified personal assistant to the other sales managers and ran an office.  Thank the good Lord, I have been a gadget girl all my life. Old school floppy disks! I worked part-time at an office supply store to supplement and pay for my schooling. I sold the first renditions of IBM and Dell computers. On my desk at the hotel was a 286 processor with probably 50 k of memory. Five and quarter-inch flimsy disks were my life saver.  The convention calendar was this behemoth book that had its own desk.  For a small hotel, we had two or three major file cabinets full of client files.  Some as thick as the city phone book (four inches or more).

Personal planners crammed full of written notes.  Notebooks full of third-party information.  Day-to-day was all about pushing paper and making phone calls, pounding the pavement and finding leads as well as execution of various events or tour group arrivals.  Forget cell phones.  Landlines with a complex web of office numbers and only ten speed dial buttons (if that).  Back-up wasn’t an option.  Lose your personal planner–deep, heart stopping, whole-body anxiety attack until you found it.  Total disappearance meant frantic hours of combing through all that paper to recreate your day-to-day work life.  And if you didn’t keep meticulous notes, (I just laughed), you were on a bar stool later that night crying into your drink, casting curses and prayers simultaneously to the air and powers that be that you did what you had to do or your other associates had your back (another little snicker).  What did I say about life being fair, it isn’t.

Cue JoePa:

The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.

Time management has various dimensions.  One of those critical dimensions is communication which is basically the sharing of information.  An exchange process.  If you aren’t prepared for the encounter, it will show.  If you don’t value other points of reality, a host will lose value.  The process is stymied by the narrow-mindedness of others.  Basically, don’t be myopic.  Try to see the whole picture.  See beyond that picture.  Your developed skill level and capabilities at this point in time may not be as developed as others.  Do not discount experience, even those with just an ounce.  You do not know the complete picture.  You don’t know what that experience was and the depth of impact or how they handled it.  Get that through your mind.  Open your mind, open your heart, open your soul to receive.  The only way you can work together, and that doesn’t mean you can’t lead, but the only way you will all succeed is if you listen and contemplate.

So I guess that comes full circle to that leadership role.

But before we get into that, I wanted to over up a reminder.

I believe that there are four points to successful meeting planning from a customer standpoint:

  • Know your client–that means asking open-ended questions, and some closed ended questions
  • Know the product you sell–and it is more than you really think it is…
  • Know the community in which you are embedded and operate
  • Know yourself

Recall you are selling to the right person, the right product at the right time, for the right price, for the right location, having the right promotion, and employing the right people utilizing effective and efficient processes, and truthful, physical evidence, that is the right stories or testimonials to engage with the right customer.

What will the leader of these projects do?  What do event planners do out in the real world?

I can tell you a fraction of what you should or shouldn’t do from my own experience.  To learn more about leadership, you need to study.  Study those that are successful in a variety of fields.  Read trade magazines and look for case studies.  Visualize the problem and look for plausible solutions.

  1.  Be receptive to ideas.
  2. Don’t over hash things that nothing gets done.  Make a decision.  You can revisit it, but it shouldn’t rule your lives.
  3. Listen to your gut.  Know the difference between right and wrong.
  4. Know standard operating procedures.  If there aren’t any, create them.
  5. Events means experience.  Someone has their heart on having a wonderful experience.  Own it for them.  Make it happen.
  6. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  7. More than one person is affected/effected by the choices you make, especially financial ones.
  8. Time means one thing to you, and something different to another.
  9. Be inquisitive.  Study from experts.  Find a mentor.  Ask questions.
  10. Research the craft.
  11. Keep a reflective journal
  12. Be respectful, responsible, accountable.  Take responsibility for your actions.  Respect yourself and others.  Doesn’t mean you have to like them, but respect means more than what you think.
  13. Listen, just shut up and listen.  And listen with your mind and heart.
  14. Demonstrate empathy, sympathy.  But don’t let anyone run you over.  There is an art to negotiations, learn it.  Compromise is key.
  15. I know I’m going to get in trouble for this.  The customer may not always be right in every situation.  Sometimes you have to take the lead and help them realize reality.  You don’t always want to be their friend.
  16. At the end of the day, there are a host of people counting on you.  Some for a pay check.
  17. Tough decisions are painful, but manageable.  Tough love is the hardest.
  18. Be proactive rather than reactive.  Damn tough sometimes to recover in service execution.  (And if my PPC students are reading this, service is a broad term.)
  19. Study ethics.  Again, every single person is governed by a set of core values and not.  Some don’t have core values.

    Core Values
    Core Values

But what do they mean?  Do you understand them?

20.  Be cognizant of your environment.  Don’t live in a vacuum.  Be aware.  Be open to change.  Change is hard.  Embrace it.  Look for it.

So those are just twenty odd observations to consider, digest and reflect upon.

A good leader knows when to lead, knows when to walk beside and help, and sometimes remain behind and let you on your own.

Everything in life is negotiable…

Everything in life is negotiable…

Everything in life is negotiable…

Not necessarily.

Negotiation or the act of negotiation is an art form.  Some would argue that life is nothing but black and white.  I would then ask that person, when was the last time you noticed the range of colors around you.

Colorful pens
I love my pens

Spring break is upon us, and the week will be spending time catching up and reading several new books on event management that just crossed my desk, trying to organize the event management curriculum.  After break, we start in on the financial side of international meeting planning and then, negotiation.

Negotiation starts with research.  You need to know the person, the company, or the destination that you are dealing with.  You can’t go blindly into the negotiation room without understanding all the nuances and laws.  You can’t design an event without knowing all of the stakeholders and their needs, their wants.  Or you need to have the right team behind you to accomplish the goal.

Know yourself and your limitations.  You can’t be an expert at everything.

Construct an extensive profile of your stakeholders, the country in which you will operate in order to ask the right questions.

Do not think that what you did in your home country in terms of negotiation will work in other countries.  Keep an open mind, and do your research into the cultural norms of your host country.

Test those people you hire to aid you in the process.  Don’t blindly trust any liaison and think that they are the right person for the job.  Do background checks.  Ask for past clients to gain testimonials.

Especially overseas.  The legal maze is just as complicated, if not more so than at home.  Again, know thy self and your limitations.

So I am considering bringing ethics into the debate as well as cultural intelligence.

There are ten ethical considerations in hospitality/tourism managers (from Jaszay and Dunk (2006) Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry, p2-3):

  1. Honesty:  Hospitality managers are honest and truthful.  They do not mislead or deceive others by misrepresentations.
  2. Integrity:  Hospitality managers demonstrate the courage of their convictions by doing what they know is right even when there is pressure to do otherwise
  3. Trustworthiness:  Hospitality managers are trustworthy and candid in applying information and in correcting misapprehensions of fact.  They do not create justifications for escaping their promises and commitments.
  4. Loyalty:  Hospitality managers demonstrate loyalty to their companies in devotion to duty, and loyalty to colleagues by friendship in adversity.  They avoid conflicts of interest; don not use or disclose confidential information; and should they accept other employment they respect the proprietary information of their former employer.
  5. Fairness:  Hospitality managers are fair and equitable in all dealings; they do not arbitrarily abuse power; nor take undue advantage of another’s mistakes or difficulties.  They treat all individuals with equality, with tolerance and acceptance of diversity, and with an open mind.
  6. Concern and respect for others: Hospit­ality managers are concerned, respec­tful, compas­sio­nate, and kind. They are sensitive to the personal concerns of their colleagues and live the Golden Rule. They respect the rights and interests of all those who have a stake in their decisions.
  7. Commitment to Excellence: Hospit­ality managers pursue excellence in performing their duties and are willing to put more into their job than they can get out of it.
  8. Leadership: Hospit­ality managers are conscious of the respon­sib­ility and opport­unities of their position of leader­ship. They realize that the best way to instill ethical principles and ethical awareness in their organi­zations is by example. They walk their talk!
  9. Reputation and Morale: Hospit­ality managers seek to protect and build the company’s reputation and the morale of its employees by engaging in conduct that builds respect. They also take whatever actions are necessary to correct or prevent inappr­opriate conduct of others.
  10. Accountability:  Hospit­ality managers are personally accoun­table for the
    ethical quality of their decisions, as well as those of their subord­inates.

The question is how these 10 principles can be a launching pad for successful negotiations.  Students need a foundation on which to start.  Therefore, they will need an extensive understanding of their own self, and where they stand within these boundaries to effectively work with others.  If there is commitment to these principles, then those students can progress successfully through the negotiation process.

Our department has designed five core values that complement and mirror these ten principles (Dictionary.com)

  • Respect:  a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
  • Diversity: the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization
  • Servant Leadership: Caring for people
  • Integrity:  the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness
  • Innovate: the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods

The last innovate extends those initial principles.  That we must go further and farther in our efforts to understand.  To gain a greater awareness about the whole process, and not just one aspect, one point.  To gain a greater awareness of the world in which we operate in.  You can’t develop a plan of action; be aware of potential problems without opening yourself up to learn, to broaden current skill set.  To ask the right questions.  Don’t make assumptions, especially when working in an international arena.  You’ll fall short.

Excellent article on 6 Steps to a Successful International Meeting

 

Empowering your employees…

Empowering your employees…
Empower your employees, don't rule over them
Empower your employees, don’t rule over them

Richard Branson’s recent blog post on Empowering your employees, don’t rule over them is an interesting read.  I agree, we need to treat employees like responsible adults, but one question remains:  Are employees mature enough to understand their responsibility to that policy and the company?  Do they understand the ethical and moral obligations that, that entails?  Maybe I am over thinking this.  Maybe I need to get to the root of what empowerment really means.  But then again, I promised you to be brutally honest, and not sugar coat the world.  Or hand out rose-tinted glasses.

Sure, as an operations manager, supervisor, and fellow employee, I recall the days when colleagues would call in sick, and know perfectly well, they were skipping out.  We called them ‘mental’ days and I took my fair share.  We just had enough of work, and needed to just be ‘bums’.  Now don’t take offense, it’s a fact of life and we all must understand why this behavior occurs.  We all have a threshold of productivity; a pinnacle of use before we slide into procrastination.  And that threshold varies from one person to another.  Believe me when I tell you, this week has been challenging in that capacity.  Half my brain is on an island in the middle of no where, or strolling along the streets of my favorite cities in Scotland.  The other half is tugging, pulling, pushing, and screaming at the procrastinating side to get to work, reminding me I have plenty to do.   I have reached a saturation point, where I need to step away from the desk, the computer, from most things and recharge the batteries.  I need a mental day.

But empowerment is a bit more than just needing a day off.  There are a host of other factors, and considerations to process.  Virgin is a service company, rooted in helping people.  Let me rephrase that, helping its stakeholders.  And as I have discussed in class those stakeholders include employees.  JW Marriott had it right, “If you don’t take care of your employees, they can’t take care of the customer.  They can’t take care of the business.  Profits won’t follow.”  In today’s information overload, our brains are working over time.  And couple that with other hard work of the body, and something has to bend, even break.

How do you create a balanced life?

I have mentioned this in class.  How do you balance your work, your professional career with personal needs, desires?  How do you give 110% or more to all the ‘hats’ you wear?  How do we develop and attain effective and efficient employees, that genuinely care about our business?  How do we demonstrate a caring attitude about our employees as persons with lives outside of work?  How do we create an innovative culture that allows our businesses to remain fresh, and progressive without high turnover rates?  How do we keep our best employees?  How do we hire employees that have the same value set, and beliefs?  All these questions and more are the layers that is empowerment.

Innovative businesses and culture must have fresh ideas, fresh viewpoints, and fresh perspectives on the dynamic world.  We can’t see the good, the bad, the ugly unless we are focused and cognizant of the world around us.  We can’t take advantage of opportunities, address threats, and weaknesses, or exploit strengths, unless we let the muddy waters settle, and acquire clarity.  We can’t recognize that precarious edge when a decision has to be made before we tumble over into deep, dark pits of stagnation, and potentially worse.  Empowerment is giving the employees the right to make decisions and more.  It has its roots in ethics.

Empowerment is about employing several of the ethical principles I mentioned in my last post.  We are definitely extending the hand of trust (trustworthiness), in that we have hired the right people, that understand that our business’ success and failure hinges on their work ethic.  That they will be honest with their employers, and their fellow employees, even customers.  That they have integrity in that they are courageous enough to recognize their responsibilities.  They will be fair, and not abuse the privilege granted them.  That there is a two-way street, a concern and respect for others, in that we employ the golden rule–that they respect the company, their fellow employees, and the guest/customer–basically, all those stakeholders that effect the company and its continuation.  That the employees have a commitment to excellence, that they give more than 110%, even more before they are even called upon to do so.  That they are all leaders, that they must walk the walk, talk the talk.

Such a policy can succeed and reinforce the corporate culture, and propel the reputation and morale of the company if this culture becomes ingrained in the psyche, and there is self policing of the policy by all individuals.  That corrections are identified and made before that behavior abuses said privilege.  And the employees are made accountable for their actions.  This in turn will build a loyal following within and outwit the company itself.  That they might set the benchmark for others to follow.

So empowerment encompasses all of these principles.  It is an action on the esteem, and self actualisation scale.  It is a difficult concept for some, easier for others.  It can’t be one of those concepts that is merely understood, but needs to be discussed and argued about.  Committed to paper, and more.

Virgin isn’t the only company that has put such a belief on the shoulders of their employees.  Ritz-Carlton, and other firms have clearly stated in their corporate culture and policies what empowerment means to their companies.  That is why it is important to research the corporate culture and core values/beliefs of those companies you want to work for.

Thoughts on Leadership and Ethics

Thoughts on Leadership and Ethics

At one moment in your life, during your career or personal life, you will have to make a decision based your code of ethics.  In determining your career, you should align your own code of beliefs with that of the company you have chosen.  You should research to see if the company has an ethics statement.  Research to see how the company has handled ethical situations.  But what is that?  Do you know your code of beliefs?  What is important to you?  How will you know it is a question of ethics or something else?  Where do I start?

Well there are 10 hospitality principles of ethics:

  1. Honesty. Hospitality managers are honest and truthful. They do not mislead
    or deceive others by misrepresentations.
  2. Integrity. Hospitality managers demonstrate the courage of their convictions
    by doing what they know is right even when there is pressure to do
    otherwise.
  3. Trustworthiness. Hospitality managers are trustworthy and candid in supplying
    information and in correcting misapprehensions of fact. They do
    not create justifications for escaping their promises and commitments.
  4. Loyalty. Hospitality managers demonstrate loyalty to their companies in
    devotion to duty and loyalty to colleagues by friendship in adversity. They
    avoid conflicts of interest; do not use or disclose confidential information;
    and, should they accept other employment, they respect the proprietary
    information of their former employer.
  5. Fairness. Hospitality managers are fair and equitable in all dealings; they
    neither arbitrarily abuse power nor take undue advantage of another’s
    mistakes or difficulties. They treat all individuals with equality, with tolerance
    and acceptance of diversity, and with an open mind.
  6. Concern and respect for others. Hospitality managers are concerned, respectful,
    compassionate, and kind. They are sensitive to the personal concerns
    of their colleagues and live the Golden Rule. They respect the rights
    and interests of all those who have a stake in their decisions.
  7. Commitment to excellence. Hospitality managers pursue excellence in performing
    their duties and are willing to put more into their job than they
    can get out of it.
  8. Leadership. Hospitality managers are conscious of the responsibility and
    opportunities of their position of leadership. They realize that the best
    way to instill ethical principles and ethical awareness in their organizations
    is by example. They walk their talk!
  9. Reputation and morale. Hospitality managers seek to protect and build
    the company’s reputation and the morale of its employees by engaging
    in conduct that builds respect. They also take whatever actions are necessary
    to correct or prevent inappropriate conduct of others.
  10. Accountability. Hospitality managers are personally accountable for the
    ethical quality of their decisions, as well as those of their subordinates.

(Jaszay, C. & Dunk, P. (2006). Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.)

These ten principles can be utilized in all aspects of leadership.  Some would say they are common sense, that one already understands these words.  But, again, the fact that they are down in paper, gives them a concrete voice.  And we aren’t questioning ourselves for a definitive definition when situations occur.

There are other code of ethics, and you can find them on the Internet.  The World Tourism Organization has a code for the tourism industry.

Reflection…short and long-term thinking.

Reflection…short and long-term thinking.
Tourism Business Environment
Tourism Business Environment, depicting the functions of management and innovation

Sometimes, I feel like I’m constantly in the dental chair.  (Nothing against dentists, but it is not my favorite place to be, even with the sonic cleaning tools.)

It is a challenge to engage the students in strategic thinking, to discuss the overall short and long term impacts on a business as well as the industry.  Monday’s are especially hard; hard for anyone including myself.  You just don’t want to think.  But you have to, you have to be on your game, at point from the moment you wake up.

I created these mind maps to help my students understand constructs that I discuss in class, even in other classes they have outside of hospitality.  I’m trying to understand if these maps even work.  I am a visual thinker and I wonder if my students are?  I pose questions, give them case scenarios from experience, trends, ‘in the news’ to try to stimulate their grey matter. For instance, what will happen if there is the slights fraction of change in percentages, money, information and so forth–what happens to the business?  What will happen to the employees?  What will happen to the company?  What will happen to all the stakeholders?  How will revenues and profits suffer?  They need to make the connections to the various contact points and beyond.  And then return.  Common sense stipulates that for every action, there is a reaction which will lead to a result that will lead to another action.  It’s a continuous cycle of events.  Clichés aside we are never off the merry-go-round.

So I was questioning my diagrams.  Asking myself what am I missing?  Where are the gaps?  I ask the students to examine and offer up possible changes.  That happened in Monday’s ethics.  I had the epiphany through their conversations that maybe there is an eleventh principle, responsibility.  This is similar to accountability, concern and respect for others but still has specific connotations that might warrant inclusion.

Still thinking….

Observations on Applebee’s.

Observations on Applebee’s.
A snippet of a bigger picture
Mind-map of business environment, main drivers information, promises, money both tangible and intangible

Well, I guess I am weighing in on the Applebee’s fiasco.  I teach Hospitality Ethics and this is making for a great case study from various points of view.

First, if you haven’t read the article or the complete story, you need to do some research.  I have to admit the media today is not well favored in their reporting.  Yahoo (and here) reported on the incident as it was percolating across the social media spectrum.  Make sure you go to the original Reddit posting and look at the image that was posted.  There are other tangible evidence that there might be different versions of the check image, one with the complete signature.  Also, there is evidence of posting other customer signatures when service execution goes above and beyond.   Again, a whole mess of evidence that even at this blog posting, I am still weighing and how to trawl through.

I won’t tell you the whole story but management, the person involved expresses that it comes down to an argument of privacy.  Or does it?

There are ten principles in hospitality ethics (Jaszay & Dunk, 2006; Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry; pg 2-3; Pearsons):

  1. Honesty
  2. Integrity
  3. Trustworthiness
  4. Loyalty
  5. Fairness
  6. Concern and Respect for others
  7. Commitment to Excellence
  8. Leadership
  9. Reputation and Morale
  10. Accountability

Now our industry as with any other is driven by information, money and promises, both intangible and tangible.  They are funneled into a dynamic and traditional exchange environment and the industry business’s then execute effective and efficient management functions, processes in order to maximize revenue and profits, in order to reward and reinvest in our stakeholders and the firm, respectively.  I have talked about social contract theory as well as psychological contracts in that they may or may not be articulated or even in writing as part of the exchange of goods and services.

This case highlights the pitfalls and failures, the good, the bad of service encounters, service execution.  There are a host of questions that I will pose to my students to think about.  This brings to mind the social media backlash against Darden and Olive Garden.  There is also the demonstrated pitfalls of social media in delivering instantaneous information to make headlines.  The ramifications on service, social responsibility, employee relations and fiscal responsibility.  There are a host of answers good and bad.

And not just privacy is an issue here, but the tipping, gratuity policy of restaurants.  Recently, given today’s economy, many customers are questioning a restaurants right to automatically charge a gratuity for large parties.  Yet, there are arguments for and against this.  How many customers really understand how a restaurant runs?  How many understand the nature of waiting on customers; a restaurant server’s pay, paying scale and so forth.  What about the customer’s responsibility?  Is the customer always right?  What about the autonomy of managers, their empowerment to manage a business?   How will this hurt Applebee’s brand?  How will Applebee’s weather the storm?  What are the effects on social media?

I could go on.  This could turn into a lengthy post but needless to say, 50 minutes of class time might not be enough for this topic