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Raleigh & Rosse: Measures to Motivate Exceptional Service Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
899 1815 Words (9 Pages) Robert L. Simons, Michael Mahoney Harvard Business School : 4353
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The problems relate to not only recessionary trends in the fashion industry but also specifically to the motivation levels of the workforce at R&R, specifically the sales associates. The main problem is that the company’s management, in its pursuit of customer service excellence, seems to have forgotten the concerns of its internal customers and stakeholders; that is its employees. It is apparent that the sales associates are not thoroughly motivated each day at their work, in contrast to what was observed in the years prior to 2007-2008. Hence, the problems appear to be linked to company policies, which are not sufficiently addressing issues of employee motivation and expecting them to behave like machines.  

Following questions are answered in this case study solution:

  1. What is the cause of the problems described in the case? How serious are these problems? How would you quantify the potential financial risk to R&R?

  2. Are R&R employees pressured inappropriate by the sales-per-hour system? By management? By their peers?

  3. How effective is the memo reproduced as Case Exhibit #4 in clarifying the distinction between "sell" and "nonsell" time?

  4. How would you redesign compensation and performance appraisal systems at R&R? Consider whether SPH is an effective measure of customer satisfaction and how well R&R's HR policies are fully aligned with its business strategy.

  5. Recommend 2-3 strategies for improving motivation, based on the reading thus far in this course (Pink and others) and your own research and reflection. Support your strategies with properly cited sources. Your submission should follow APA guidelines for format and citation of sources.

Raleigh Rosse Measures to Motivate Exceptional Service Case Analysis

The problems described in the case are of a very serious nature as R&R at this stage should be recovering from recessionary trends in the year 2010. A recovery for the company requires full dedication of its sales associates and store managers who are on the shop-floor and responsible for direct customer interactions. The problems for R&R have become more severe as the company is currently facing a lawsuit and has previously lost a case on the issue of labor termination. Hence, negative publicity now prevails for the company which used to be known as one of the best employers a few years ago.

The potential financial risk to R&R can be gauged from a summary of its financials presented in Exhibit 2. The financial risk for R&R is alarming as its net earnings have declined tremendously in the years 2008 and 2009, as opposed to the previous years. If the situation continues this way for R&R, without its issues being addressed properly, the company can very well run into Net Losses, with negative financials being reported. A large decline of well over 50% in net earnings in the year 2008 can lead to a worse financial crunch for the company.

Are R&R employees pressured inappropriate by the sales-per-hour system, by management, by their peers?

Yes, the sales-per-hour (or SPH) system is putting inappropriate burden on the employees, primarily the sales associates as well as the store managers. Although the management, including the previous CEO, intended to motivate the workforce towards more aggressive selling with the SPH approach, it appears to have done the exact opposite. The main reason for the prevailing attitude and over-stretching of the sales associates is because they now fear for their jobs. This is because not meeting the sales targets for the SPH can ultimately lead to termination. This policy and its accompanying pressure is even making the employees to engage in unethical behavior by taking credit of sales initiated by other workers.

Secondly, the management had introduced the concept of ‘Ownership’ in the organization. However, the ownership seems to be primarily targeting the store managers and not their subordinates who are the sales associates and responsible for more hardcore sales initiatives. The inappropriate pressure is also due to the fact that the company owners did not discuss the sales strategy with the people on the ground; that is, the store managers and the sales associates, and to get their feedback in the SPH. It was an imposed decision with which the sales associates have not been able to cope up with.

Lastly, the store managers, since the implementation of SPH, are being bossier and dominating towards the sales associates, as opposed to their previous track record and correspondence with them. This may also be because the store managers themselves are worried about their sales targets, and hence, are transferring the pressures to their subordinates. The sales associates feel more burdened as their peers and line managers are themselves not discouraging unethical practices aimed at earning a sales commission. The store managers are interfering with the sales associates time records; that is, the number of hours worked as it impacts the calculation of SPH.

How effective is the memo reproduced as Case Exhibit #4 in clarifying the distinction between "sell" and "nonsell" time?

The document does not serve to clearly define all aspects of sell and non-sell time. It appears that the company recognizes the hard work of the sales associates in bringing sales, but does not explicitly state which categories are sell and non-sell time, a factor that is critical in compensating the sales associates. Only two cases are specifically referred to in the company memo as confirmed compensatory work activities: hand deliveries and home deliveries. Besides these two categories, the corporate office has not explicitly mentioned any other work as directly qualifying for extra compensation.

The reason why the memo does not distinguish clearly between sell and non-sell time is that it says all circumstances will be dealt on a case by case basis, by saying that such activity ‘may’ be compensated. Hence, a huge conflict can be expected between the management and the sales associates in this regard who have not been provided a clear direction. The sales associates may feel that many of the activities specified in the memo (Exhibit 4) classify as compensatory work regardless of the time input and the location. Therefore, primary criterion should be whether a sales associate has added any value to the customer experience or has provided a benefit to the customer during the activity.

If the sales associates or the store managers are delighting a customer, that customer is likely to engage in more purchase. For a store selling luxury items, this can mean significant sales, as well. Hence, it does not appear fair that the efforts of the employees are pushed into ‘non-sell times.’ For example, the use of the phrase ‘picking up dead wood’ is meant to signify that there are some activities which are non-productive and hence may not be compensated for. Such statements would not serve to motivate the workforce any further.

How would you redesign compensation and performance appraisal systems at R&R? Consider whether SPH is an effective measure of customer satisfaction and how well R&R's HR policies are fully aligned with its business strategy.

The business strategy of R&R is to be the market leader in retailing of luxury brands. The company also aims to develop an ownership culture in the organization, which would ultimately result in improving the service offering to the high-end clients who are the retailer’s audience in this case. As per the senior management’s understanding, the employees would be motivated with a commissions-based approach. Hence, they have aligned the HR policies so as to ultimately benefit the end-consumer. However, the policies need a revision in order to address the concerns of the workforce, who are not just motivated by money but by various other factors, as well.

I do not think that SPH is an effective measure of customer satisfaction. This is because many times it is purely due to the efforts of the sales associates that a customer may engage in a purchase. Hence, linking this directly with customer satisfaction is not the correct approach. Secondly, the real levels of customer satisfaction may be different from what the sales figures are depicting. The world of fashion many times faces a ‘fad’ where the sales of a product fluctuate rapidly, at times producing very high sales and at times depicting extremely low sales. Hence, in the backdrop of such a situation, the compensation and performance appraisal systems at R&R need to be revised.

A balanced scorecard method of appraisal is recommended for the company. The method focuses on developing and communicating objectives on four fronts: internal business processes, learning and growth, financial, and customer (Wong, Chan, & Lam, 2009). The sales force should be evaluated semi-annually on these four factors and questioned as part of their appraisal. The balanced scorecard approach would ensure that the employees are not just being evaluated on the sales they generate each hour and hence would serve to reduce their burden and improve performance (Fernandes & Whalley, 2006).

Recommend 2-3 strategies for improving motivation, based on the reading thus far in this course (Pink and others) and your own research and reflection. Support your strategies with properly cited sources. Your submission should follow APA guidelines for format and citation of sources.

To improve the motivation of the workforce, primarily the sales associates, it is vital that strategies be designed which give them incentives without threats to job security. Firstly, it is encouraged that there should be no discrimination in policies for compensating the sales force and their line managers (Albers, 1996). This is because otherwise the sales force shall be de-motivated and feel discriminated against. This is exactly what is happening in the case of R&R; where, for example, there are different methods to calculate the number of hours worked for the sales reps and for the store managers.

Secondly, threats of job terminations should not be specified (Simintiras, Cadogan, & Lancaster, 1996). Rather, if the management at a stage feels that an employee has been given sufficient time to work upon sales, and then it may think of termination. However, in R&R’s case, the sales associates as well as the store managers are not focused on work because they are worried about their jobs. Hence, any good company would always protect the interests of its workforce rather than threaten them with job insecurity.

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