Hausser Food

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Hausser Foods is clearly experiencing a decline in sales growth due mostly to competition and a decline in population growth. The case focuses mostly on the southeast sales region; however the decline in sales growth is affecting the entire company. The lack of new ideas by the sales force is primarily due to a lack of reflective and adequate encouragement from HDQ as well as a fear or concern that such new ideas for sales revenue might actually burden the sales force in the following year through increased sales targets. In particular, the Florida HFP sales found a great revenue opportunity with elderly clientele. They noticed a clear demand for baby food and were able to utilize this new and growing market to help meet and exceed their sales targets each term. The Florida team was incredibly cooperative with each other and all had a similar goal of exceeding plan by only 10%. They worried that anything beyond that would cause an increase in their sales targets in the following year which would bring undue burden on them the following year. They also never communicated this new market segment to HDQ because they felt they would get inadequate recognition for it.

Daniels’s concept of “perception error” also applies to HFP. Most companies believe that employees will respond positively to any form of incentives. However Daniels notes that not all forms of incentives provide the same motivation for employees, if any. In this case, HFP salesmen Alby Siegel states, “$500 for your idea. That amount of money is an insult…” It is apparent that Alby does not value $500 for a good idea, and decides to keep his idea from corporate.

Another example of why the group was reluctant to provide new ideas and suggestions ties directly to the idea of negative reinforcement. Daniels mentions that negative reinforcement occurs when employees give a level or performance that is just enough to get by. The Florida sales team felt if they contributed new ideas that helped increase overall sales for the company they would pay the price the following year with increased sales goals. As salesman Portnow states, “They increase the sales quota so that you have to work harder just to earn the same money! It just doesn’t pay to bust your ass.” As a result the salesmen kept quiet about the idea and just generated enough sales to meet company quota goals. The HFP sales people did not sell beyond plan because they knew that if they beat plan by a large enough margin, HFP HDQ would increase the sales quota for next year, making them work harder to earn the same money they made the year before. Daniels mentions that “Goal attainment gives people the permission to stop.” Employees knowingly perform around there current goal, because future goals will be based on current performance. The salesman Portnow uses this same concept to explain why they only strive to reach the company’s standard sales goal. ”It just doesn’t pay to bust your ass.” HFP also has Daniels’s clues of negative reinforcement, including “Negative Talk” and “Performance goes flat after reaching goal”. Portnow embodies these, especially regarding HFP HDQ. The reason why young Fred Hopengarten “came to his senses” was his difficulty in fulfilling his orders initially and the lack of support for him by his team. It is unclear whether his team had any effect on the order fulfillment; however, his team clearly created hurdles in an effort to limit his performance. According to Daniels, immediate and certain negative consequence will impact behavior faster compared to a future uncertain consequence. Daniels also mentions that peers are the most effective source of reinforcement at work because they can deliver immediate reinforcement. Since Fred received an immediate consequence for his behaviors he quickly realized from his peers that it was in his best interest to only perform at a marginal level and succumb to the team’s overall will. [2]

The hiring and promotion strategy...
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