Portman Hotel

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This essay will examine three human behavioral issues that have evolved from the social sciences in the context of managing organizations. The case study that will be used to analyze these conditions and theories deals with The Portman Hotel Company-San Francisco. Three issues will be addressed in the following order: fundamental attribution error, Expectancy Theory, and Operant Conditional Theory. First, a brief description will be provided for each theory, then how the theories relate to the case study will be analyzed, and finally, recommendations will be provided in an attempt to correct or alleviate the management difficulties being experienced at the Portman.

First, we will take a look at fundamental attribution error (FAE). From our discussion in class this condition, based on attribution theory, involves the tendency of human beings to attribute too much personal/internal factors in analyzing a particular situation where, in fact, environmental/external forces are more at work. In essence, what FAE suggests is that we, as human beings, tend to be too judgmental of others based on what sort of person they are with a general disregard for outside, situational forces beyond their control. So how does this relate to The Portman Hotel personnel dilemma and what can we do to resolve it? One great example of this error in action involves the disdain Spencer Scott, the director of guest room services, has towards the PVs. He criticizes them for always taking on additional tasks and pursuing new needs. He goes on by saying that they want to do everything and, therefore, suffer from short attention spans. Case in point, this is exactly what FAE is warning us about. Scott has forgotten that the hotel's core, the essence of their differentiation from other luxury hotels, is the undivided service they provide to their patrons/guests. He is so intent on blaming the PVs for being a group of self-serving, liberal, free-thinkers that he has lost sight of their fundamental purpose or being. Maybe the hotel guests are the ones who are ordering the PVs around, trying to get them to tend to their every whim. This would explain the complaint Scott had about the PVs trying to do anything and everything. Scott just forgot that they might be doing it all for the guests. In this case, the patrons, who are the external, environmental forces, are the real culprits behind the PVs' eccentric behavior. If this error had not been made Scott would not have been so critical of his staff's performance because he would have been able to sympathize with the PVs. Thus, this leads us to a suitable remedy for this situation. I feel that an effective way this misunderstanding could have been avoided is to expose Scott to the lives of his subordinates. What I mean by this is to have management work in the "trenches" by having them shadow the valets for a week, or even go as far as becoming one for a day or two. Only then can management step out of the box and gain a totally different perspective (that of their employees) on the PVs' problems. Fundamental attribution error teaches us that we are critical of how others behave and totally ignorant of possible outside factors at work. Not until we are able to step into their shoes can we look "out" from their perspective and see exactly how society and the environment guide/steer their particular behavior. I also feel this closely goes hand-in-hand with the "Value Foundation of Management" principles discussed in class where the essential message is getting people to trust you. In order to be an effective leader one has to follow such guidelines as respecting the individual, being fair to them, keeping promises and telling truths. I feel Scott was too optimistic towards the PVs in terms of their expected tips. Rewards are essential for short-term goals/reinforcements (which will be discussed in-depth later) and not living up to those promises really hurt Scott's credibility as a...
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