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Consumer Promotions

Published October 25, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Marketers today try to comprehend the psychology of consumers and focus much of their research on consumer behavior. This helps them understand the following components: (a) how actions shape an individual’s identity, (b) the impact it has on their target audience and their families, and (c) how their consumption habits affect the environment. Jansson-Boyd (2012) explains that human consumption has become an integral part of society. From a business perspective, it is imperative that advertisers have a clear understanding of the effects these habits have on human behavior to better serve their customers. In other words, companies have more successful outcomes when they focus on figuring out how individuals are influenced based on their behavior with respect to the materials they acquire. The information they gather is used to determine how and why they are engaged in certain activities and what affects them in order to help influence that behavior (Jansson-Boyd, 2010). Knowing how people process information and in turn how they will respond, can also help marketers predict future behavior. This is useful data for developing consumer promotion strategies to generate more traffic and build long lasting brand loyalty. Consumer promotions are typically developed as exciting events to entice consumers to investigate further into a company’s merchandise so that they will purchase their goods. The focus of this research is centered on the various methods advertisers develop to influence consumer behavior by incorporating different types of promotional strategies to their campaigns to stimulate the buying process. The study will examine seven kinds of consumer promotion models including: (a) refunds and rebates, (b) contests, (c) sweepstakes, (d) premiums, (e) coupons, (f) in-store, and (g) trade shows. As an example to help illustrate these concepts, the research is influenced from my own personal experiences as a young corporate executive in the promotion department at EMI America Records in Hollywood. The study will take a closer look at the variety of strategies a record company will utilize to introduce a new artist and to help promote their music products. The findings of this research will conclude that consumer promotions drive patrons to buy products because they stimulate excitement, add fun to shopping, and create a memorable experience.

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Contests

Consumer promotions are meant to drive people towards a company’s products. Smart advertisers know that in addition to delivering an awesome product, to attract and keep loyal clients, exceptional customer service also plays a key role to their success. Baack and Clow (2012) postulate, that in the past, many experts were under the impression that any type of sales promotion could contaminate a brand’s reputation. However, because of the vast amount of market place competition, advertisers are developing more clever methods to lure consumers into making a purchase. Promotions are an effective way to generate interest and excitement to attract shopper attention and activity (Baack & Clow, 2012). One method marketers use to spawn excitement about a new product is holding a contest. Contests require audience participation and can create a buzz about a new product. For example, record companies work in partnership with radio stations and music store outlets to set up various kinds of contests to attract attention. When an artist comes out with a new album, for instance, conducting a contest in conjunction with a radio station is a sure way to generate a buzz. First of all, radio stations work with record companies and provide free publicity from the airplay of the new album. To generate more of a thrilling experience, the radio station will hold competitions by offering callers incentives like free concert tickets or a chance to win the artist’s new album if they are logged in as the fifteenth caller, for instance or have the correct answer to a certain trivia question. These types of promotions not only generate excitement and interest in the artist and their new product, it also serves to help bring more listening traffic to the radio station. This choice of promotion is ideal and if planned well, can serve the music company, the artist, the radio stations, and the concert promoter.

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Sweepstakes

Without consumer promotions, a company’s product can get lost in the crowd. Cummins and Mullin (2010) state flatly, that the main goal of marketers is to drive consumers to buy products and sales promotions are effective for achieving those outcomes. People go shopping because they want a rewarding experience (Cummins & Mullin, 2010). In other words, people purchase merchandise because it makes them feel good and sales promotions, like sweepstakes, are one way of adding fun to the buying equation. In a sweepstakes promotion, purchases are not necessary for participation and generally shoppers are encouraged to enter as often as they want. In these kinds of promotions, probability determines the outcome so merchandisers are required to reveal the odds of winning in advance. This displays a company’s fair business practices and helps build trust. A record company, for instance, will incorporate a sweepstakes event into their promotion campaign because they add both extrinsic and intrinsic value. For example, to add extrinsic value and make the promotion more attractive, the record label may include an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood, California for entry winners to attend an artist’s concert. In addition, they may offer free promotional material, like t-shirts, special concert related program books, and other paraphernalia merchandise to support the release of the new album.  Sweepstakes promotions are similar to contests, in that they require participation and necessitate the use of some kind of skill, such as sharing stories centered on the theme of the album or the submission of an original song. People that enjoy competition events will participate because: (a) it is fun, (b) they want to demonstrate their abilities, and (c) it presents an opportunity to meet the artist. Marketers have discovered that offering discounts only are not as effective in generating excitement over their products, and by designing promotions into their advertising campaigns, such as contests and sweepstakes, they become extremely efficient for generating a positive experience and attracting more business.

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Refunds and Rebates

Consumer promotions stimulate excitement in a company’s brand. Refunds and rebate strategies are cash incentives offered to buyers once they purchase merchandise. Baack and Clow (2012) submit that this strategy is more effective when they it is perceived as an original idea and usually motivate buyers to change their behavior (Baack & Clow, 2012). To receive the reward, the consumer must provide a proof of purchase and mail it to the designated organization to redeem their prize. This is not a very popular method because many people do not want to take the time to mail in the required documentation, follow-up, or even wait for that matter. However, if the prize is enticing enough, consumers will participate. Music companies can use this strategy to help promote the release of an artist’s new album as well as their concert events. For example, a rebate offer can be an effective method to entice consumers to purchase a special limited edition of the music product offered exclusively at certain outlets only that includes concert tickets as part of the rebate strategy. This promotes the record label, the music store retailer and the concert promoters. Plus, it also helps fans save money on costly concert events while encouraging sales for higher ticket items such as special collector products. These effective strategies assist advertisers in generating more sales, build brand loyalty, that can also lead to additional purchases. This model draws attention to the brand and is a great way to engage and win new supporters.

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Premiums

To put it simply, promotions are developed for consumers to help create a rewarding shopping experience for them. Calder and Tybout (2010) assert that human behavior is motivated by goals. Goals are a reflection of a fulfilling future that is driven by an individual’s desires, aspirations, hopes, and dreams. The value individuals attach to their solutions varies by the degree of the problem solved or goal they want to achieve. Taking this concept into consideration, advertisers engage in competitive marketing as a valuable tool that provides consumers a means to achieve their goals (Calder & Tybout, 2010). Sales promotions that offer premiums in the form of prizes, gifts, or other special offers, are also useful for getting people excited about a company’s brand. Typically there are four kinds of premiums that a company offers: (a) free-in-the-mail, (b) in-or on-package, (c) store or manufacturer, and (d) self-liquidating. A music company, for instance, may offer two albums for the price of one as a premium bonus. This strategy promotes a new release and is also effective for moving older inventory. Another popular strategy is to provide personalized autographed merchandise as a premium because that has value that no other company can offer. This is highly effective because any item that is specifically autographed to an individual from the artist will inherently add more value to that product and is a successfully proven promotional strategy.

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Coupons

Consumer promotions are typically developed to make shopping a memorable experience. Advertisers that include coupon promotions in their campaigns do so to offer a price reduction to stimulate consumer interest. Baack and Clow (2012) purport that out of 188 billion coupons issued in a year, about 1.6 billion were redeemed (Baack & Clow, 2012). Studies suggest that manufacturers issue about 80 percent of all coupons produced and are delivered through print media systems, although with advances in technology, coupons are now also offered digitally through social media and smartphone outlets. In addition, some companies use cross-ruffing techniques to promote other products. For example, a record company that wants to promote a new soundtrack album that features a song by one of their artist’s, may include a redeemable movie ticket coupon with their music album purchase. This strategy promotes the artist, the record company, as well as the movie company that made the investment in the artist to compose a new track to support the film. Companies that work together can share advertising costs as well as create an unforgettable experience for consumers.

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Trade Shows

Trade show promotions offer incentives that are also effective for enticing consumers to purchase products.  Trade shows can build a company’s business rapidly in just a few short days.  Abrams and Bozdech (2006) explain that trade shows consist of a large number of industry contacts, potential suppliers, and important buyers.  These key players are brought together at one venue.  In fact, trade shows are very successful because: (a) they attract significant clients, (b) they introduce new products, (c) produce real prospects, and (d) they enhance relationships (Abrams & Bozdech, 2006).  The main objective of a trade show is to bring industry professionals together to feature new or existing merchandise to impress existing vendors and attract new ones.  Music industry trade shows are designed to showcase the company’s artists and will include live performances.  This tactic provides entertainment as well as gives attendees the opportunity to sample the music and meet the artists in person.  In addition, it is a great public relations strategy which allows other industry heavy weights the opportunity to view the competition, meet these talented performers, as well as enjoy some quality entertainment.

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In-Store Promotions

The goal of an advertiser is to drive consumers to buy their products. Cummins and Mullin (2010) advise that in-store promotions conducted by specially trained staff members that offer incentives to motivate a crowd, is still one of the most effective ways to generate substantial business (Cummins & Mullin, 2010). In-store promotions are the most common methods companies employ as part of their sales promotion strategies. For example, a music company that is looking to promote a new album or artist will develop an in-store promotion because it is the most effective means to generate excitement around a new product. This strategy offers the general public an opportunity to listen to the product as well as meet and mingle with the artists face-to-face. Depending on the magnitude and celebrity of the artist, these kinds of promotions tend to generate the largest crowds because they provide fans an opportunity to experience direct contact with their music heroes. This plan makes the brand stand out above the competition because of the unique abilities and talent of the artist who can strike a deep emotional chord from their supporters. In addition, once consumers are enticed to visit the retail outlet, when the promotion concludes, people remain free to roam the facility to explore other purchasing options. In-store promotions of this nature are appealing to merchants because of the inherent ability to draw a large crowd by those interested in meeting a celebrity in person. In addition, it helps create a long lasting buzz for the company in the community, especially from those who were fortunate to have been a part of the experience. When a celebrity is associated with a particular music retail chain like the Virgin Megastore or other outlets where their music is sold like Barnes and Noble, the chains become favorites because of the memories consumers experience during those events.  In-store promotion strategies work the best for a record label due to the artist’s power of attraction.  Plus, consumers do not have to pay an admission price to attend them like they would a trade show or concert event.

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Conclusion

Consumer promotions offer the public a fun way to go shopping. Cummins and Mullin (2010) suggest that the use of sales promotions in their campaigns is one of the most effective ways a company stimulates excitement, encourages retail response, and offers valuable rewards. These marketing strategies serve to create an exhilarating and unforgettable experience for consumers. A good sales promotion will make consumers stop and think about a brand and if it has the right impact, will cause them to follow through on their feelings to purchase their products (Cummins & Mullin, 2010). Today’s consumer is looking for more than just making a purchase; they want to have an experience that will transform them. Sales promotions can do that by offering novelty, excitement, and even humor at the point-of-purchase. These are significant components that consumers respond to and motivates them to help build brand loyalty. Consumer promotions are meant to create a  rewarding shopping experience; one that motivates consumers to purchase products and tell their friends about it. The findings of this research conclude that without effective promotional sales strategies a brand’s products can get lost in the crowd.

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References

Abrams, R., & Bozdech, B. (2006). Trade show in a day: Get it done right, get it done fast! Palo Alto, CA: The Planning Shop.

Baack, D., & Clow, K. (2012). Integrated advertising, promotion, and marketing communications (Fifth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NY: Pearson Education, Inc.

Calder, B., & Tybout, A. (2010). Kellogg on marketing (Second ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Cummins, J., & Mullin, R. (2010). Sales promotion: How to create, implement and integrate campaigns that really work (Fifth ed.). London, UK: Kogan Page.

Jansson-Boyd, C. (2010). Consumer psychology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Published July 22, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Companies are in the business of making a profit for the benefit of their stakeholders.  This in turn means they have a responsibility to the employees, customers, suppliers, communities and society at large. Boatright (2009) posits that most organizations are cognizant of their responsibilities. They seek strategies to reach desired outcomes and initiate directives that adhere to corporate social responsibility (CSR). In fact, evidence suggests it is becoming more difficult for companies to gain sufficient competitive advantage in today’s cut throat marketplace without CSR. Together with regulations that are in place, more corporations are engaged in practices that monitor such things as fair prices, fair labor conditions, direct trade, democratic and transparent organizational behavior, community development and environmental sustainability (Boatright, 2009).  Top managers, however, are not always in the best position to make ethical choices because of various components. In one case study for example, a manager was thrust into a situation that required decisions and judgments based upon the organizational culture. In addition, as an expectant parent, the leader’s financial status changed temporarily because his wife was on unpaid maternity leave. This now left him as the sole breadwinner. In short, the supervisor’s new situation made it difficult for him  to make the best choices that were in alignment with his personal moral views because of the external pressures from his job and the internal pressures of a husband and an expectant father. He was feeling stressed from being in a position where he had to contemplate choices that could ultimately result in his termination.

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The legal issue he contemplated were having to conform to new policies that lead to behavior in violation of federal trade commission laws and mandates. Upper management was pressuring him to engage in practices that encouraged using information from trusted clients to give them an advantage in the market. This in turn created unfair competition. In addition, he did not have the support of many of his departmental staff members. In fact, many voiced  loudly their objection to the new direction the firm was taking. Ferrell et al. (2012) suggest that a company’s history consists of the unwritten rules that become part of its culture. Leaders at the helm are considered responsible for their behavior as well as that of their subordinates.  Corporations that follow the guidelines set forth in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act define parameters that institutions are expected to comply with, which includes systems that monitor and assess the internal and external auditing of financial statements (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2013). By adopting these new practices proposed from upper management, their company was in a unique situation to utilize information from trusted client relationships in order to profit over other organizations. This is a serious offense that raises the alarm for stakeholders.

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There are advantages and disadvantages to the manager’s situation. The advantages are huge capital gains, status, recognition, and other enticing benefits. The disadvantage is conducting business unethically and illegally which can result in termination and incarceration. To incorporate these new practices, it encourages employees to chase monetary rewards based on commissions and fees on mutual funds that are risky, can go sour, and damage the credibility of the firm and its representatives. In short, chasing high profits unethically, will inevitably lead to the organization’s demise and the downfall of many respected careers. Because of the added pressures to provide for his expectant partner, the pressures from his superiors to engage in questionable practices, and the threat from one of his biggest clients, this leader had to face some very serious choices which could have long term negative outcomes. McGraw (2012) contends that surrounding yourself with the right people helps you learn the right actions to make the right decisions (McGraw, 2012). The financial industry tends to attract individuals that are drawn by power, which can turn to greed and corruption contingent upon personality traits. Many top executives find themselves in situations where they are called to participate in ethical misconduct from pressures like this leader faced. Their choices are: (a) comply and go with the directive of their superiors taking the risks that are involved with misconduct, (b) choose not to participate, which could ultimately cost them their job, or (c) find a solution that does not involve the exploitation of trusted client information to achieve similar positive outcomes. The last choice requires presenting a strong argument to upper management however, that supports changing the view of the superiors with reasons that urge them to engage in more ethical practices to achieve their goals. Ultimately it is up to each individual to come up with a strategy they can support and embrace with a healthy conscience.

References:

Boatright, J. (2009). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell. (2013). Business ethics and social responsibility (9th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

McGraw, P. (2012). Life code. Los Angeles, CA, USA: Bird Street Books.

Organizational Behavioral: A Personal Analysis

Published December 30, 2012 by Mayrbear's Lair

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People in all their rich diversity comprise the rudimentary building blocks of organizations.  Each individual deserves to be valued at work and content in their occupation and accomplishments.  The study of human behavior in organizations is referred to as organizational behavior (OB).  It is the academic discipline devoted to understanding the individual and group behavior, interpersonal processes and organizational dynamics (Schermerhorn, et al., 2005).  The subject of OB offers many insights into managing individuals and teams for high performance in today’s marketplace.  The focus of this analysis concentrates on the organizational behavior from personal experience at former places of employment.  An analysis of various behavioral components at the workplace will ascertain the positive and negative influences of the organizations.

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New Beginnings

Joseph Campbell (1991) is known to have said, “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so that we can embrace the life that is waiting for us” (p. 18).  That phrase became a prophecy to my own life.  I relocated to Los Angeles after college to find security and employment in the entertainment industry where I began building a career in corporate America.  After nearly a decade of service, I left the organizational structure of the music industry, putting aside personal career aspirations, to launch a business with two other partners; one of which included my former spouse, a professional magiciann.  The business was focused on building a production company to advance his career as a performing artist.

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He was an established professional magician in the secondary markets of his field.  Our goal was to expand our interests and achieve a similar level of success in the mainstream and primary markets.  With many failed attempts at achieving our goals and building the organizational success we envisioned, that partnership met a revolting demise due to continual interpersonal conflicts resulting from the self-serving bias that modeled his behavior.  After fourteen years of service, the climate drastically changed.  In his need for power and achievement, he ultimately chose the path of a coward and deserted us, riding off into the sunsets of Australia with a younger replica of myself to begin a new voyage.  I had been replaced by a new life-wife and faced organizational inertia from the dissolution of the union.  I came to accept that the life I had invested in and planned on was concluding.  I was about to embark on my own new journey.  One that I did not know was waiting for me.

My former partner possesses similar personality traits to Steve Jobs that include: (a) tunnel vision drive, (b) displays unhealthy levels of self-worship, and (c) suffers from extreme characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder.  Like Jobs, he uses his power to aggressively injure, dominate, manipulate and intimidate others (Baack, 2012).  The primary difference however, is that he is a master manipulator that applies impression management leadership strategies based on deception and a distorted and fragmented misrepresentation of the truth.  Jobs in contrast actually achieved a level of merit and success that shaped the global marketplace.

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Attila the Hun

He did not receive a high school diploma but instead studied his own choices of texts including books like The Silva Mind Control Method (Silva, 1977) which is based on mind expansion and manipulation techniques; and The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun which postulates how greatness can be achieved through an extreme personality (Roberts, 1985).  That personality began to rear its ugly head revealing an unscrupulous, scheming Machiavellian persona that left those close to him feeling defeated and worthless as individuals on many levels.

In addition, he was reared in an estranged dysfunctional family environment.  He did not have a mentor or many other honorable and trusted individuals for guidance and wisdom.  In other words, he had no one to answer to.  This created a climate of unlimited power which tends to encourage unethical choices with justification for his destructive behavior and ultimately abandoning the organizational culture we invested many years we painstakingly labored to build.

I was the primary focus of blame for his not having achieved the level of success he felt entitled to.  In truth, it was his coercive power that blocked his career progression in spite of his casting blame for failures in mine and everyone else’s direction.  To prove his political intelligence, he flaunted several much younger female replacement partners that left me feeling humiliated.  After a failed affair ended with one secret lover, he insisted the next one he “connected with” was an organizational fit and a long term solution to his problems.  He purported this individual was the missing link and the key component to his achieving the success he was destined to.

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As a leader, his choices reflected a severe imbalance in moral compass and an extreme deficiency in organizational citizenship.  He jumped ship, leaving me alone with our four year old trying to ascertain my options and establish role clarity (while I silently worked to avoid a psychological melt down).  I was in an extreme crisis situation that required urgent action while I searched methods for effective stress management.  After several attempts to take root in various states with family, I eventually settled in Southern Arizona where I grew up.  I still had friends and family that resided there who could offer emotional support and comfort.

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Shortly after settling into a new apartment, I was put in contact with a childhood comrade who was now the co-founder of a local mortgage company.  Following the advice of my mother, I inquired about staff position openings at his firm.  My experience and extensive training were in the entertainment industry.  I was clueless about the mortgage and loan industry, but desperate to find employment to provide for my family.  Our mothers were still best friends therefore through informal family communication systems he was privy to my achievements in Arizona and Los Angeles, as well as aware of my current predicament.

In the meantime I was psychologically broken, financially desperate and left unaided to raise my beautiful little girl.  The first step I reluctantly took was to enroll my youngster in a preschool.  The next step was to seek government aid for medical, nutrition and financial assistance with day care services while I secured employment.  The divorce proceedings took the crisis to new levels of stress that severely impacted my emotional intelligence.  I lacked self-esteem and had a low self-concept based on the cognitive components of a failed life; partnership; and business enterprise.  I felt lost and lacked focus in self-monitoring.  I mentally retreated from the world and only found solace caring for my child.  I completely removed myself psychologically from the world of adults to immerse myself in the world of my child from her viewpoint, out of the comfort and safety of our new home environment.

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I waited forty years for the privilege of motherhood.  The internal struggle I faced in joining a new organizational structure was abandoning my child to join the work force full time.  She arrived ten years into what I believed was a secure marriage.  On the contrary, I was not able to decode the nonverbal cues that indicated my former partner’s double life.  I was processing austere levels of betrayal.  Harmony within a group reflects the sharing and exchange of personal resources among the members in order to attain an equal distribution of them (Earley, 1997).  There was no room for harmony in my situation. Without a sense of identity I began to experience role ambiguity.  The life I endeavored to build was upheaved.  I was forced to abandon the world I created as an entrepreneur and a stay-at-home mother to enter the nine-to-five workforce of corporate America, in an unfamiliar industry, from a personal place of low-self-esteem that deeply affected my social skills.  I had a lot on my plate.

I was not in a healthy state of mind and was reluctant to interact, let alone converse with people.  I was humiliated, ashamed and did not have a positive story to share.  I was in crisis mode, coping alone and searching for tools to help make the transition less turbulent.  The stress levels increased every day I dropped my little one off with strangers full time at the day care center.  Furthermore, the staff was not trained nor did they possess the skills to interact or effectively connect with a four-year-old with advanced levels of intelligence.

My child is a rare bird with an independent spirit and a dominant personality that could read and tell time.  Rather than most children her age that threw temper tantrums and screamed as a means of communication, my daughter verbally articulates her views.  This quality presents challenges to adults whose primitive methods of discipline resort to yelling which reflects a lack of skills in supporting children with advanced intellect.  In short, the situation was a nightmare.  I was to be separated from my child nine hours daily while I operated in an entry level position within an organizational structure I had no passion for, in spite of my gratitude for employment.

Nonetheless, as a responsible individual, once I found employment, I reported dutifully daily, externally portraying an emotionally balanced woman while silently processing extreme levels of grief.  I was in silent rage working through tremendous levels of tension implementing whatever methods I could to manage the stress.  A voice in my head offered comfort, “Just because it is like this today, does not mean it will be like this in a week, a month, or a year.”  It offered short term serenity that enabled me to trudge through each day keeping focus on the bigger picture and the workload I was assigned in the new organizational environment.

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The Mortgage and Loan Experience

The co-founder of the mortgage company I found employment with, is a man I grew up with that goes by the name Billy A.  Our mothers had been best friends over fifty years.  P. Christopher Early (1997) in his book Face, Harmony and Social Structure, posits that, “Organizational members are influenced by the dominant norms and espoused values within a given organization and these norms and values are instilled through the socialization processes” (p. 176).  We grew up socializing and playing together from the time we were in elementary school.  In addition, we participated in group activities throughout our entire youth through our membership at the local Greek Orthodox Church.  Throughout our youth we worked together in various leadership roles within our church youth groups.  We developed an organizational relationship that fit early in life.  He welcomed me to his corporate family and seemed genuinely happy to assist when I contacted him looking for work.  He put me in touch with a woman at his firm designated to hire new employees.  She requested that I report to the office the next day.

The mortgage company was located in a beautiful neighborhood at an upscale professional office building.  It was an organization with tastefully conceived observable artifacts in an environment of cultural pluralism in so much that it was a small mortgage group within a larger society of the mortgage and loan industry.  It enjoyed success as a regional operation.  The leaders were content with the corporation’s achievements at that level with no desire to seek recognition and success on a national platform.  Intrapersonal domination and negation transitions affect interpersonal domination and negation when one psychological structure interacts with at least another and all parties attempt to minimize displeasures of the other’s unwanted influences (Carr & Hancock, 2006).  I did the best to minimize the influences of my emotional condition.  At this juncture, the climate created upon my arrival was pleasant and accommodating towards my efforts to transit into the change and acquisition phase of joining a new organizational structure.  Pleasantries were exchanged and conversations were kept to a minimum to avoid emotional triggers.

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Integration in a New Industry

I was immediately placed in an entry level, support staff position which consisted of filing, organizing, typing documents, answering phones scheduling appointments and other standard office procedures including making copies, brewing coffee and greeting guests.  At that time, the organization’s modes of communication were verbal via company telephone, intercom lines, individual cell phones and face to face meetings.  In addition messages were transmitted in written form via email, interdepartmental memos, a company newsletter, and when the occasion dictated, we engaged in formal communication as well.

As a career move I felt defeated having to start over in an industry I had no experience in, at a time when I chose to commit to motherhood – a full time job by itself.  Strong organizational commitment entails: (a) a strong belief in and the acceptance of the organization’s goals and values; (b) a willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organization; and (c) a strong desire to maintain membership in the organization (Hiriyappa, 2009).  Although I was grateful for the opportunity to earn an income, I had no passion for the mortgage and loan industry.  I was lost and deeply injured trying to recover from the guilt of abandoning the child I waited so long to bear.  I was in an emotional place of torment working on self-reinforcement.  I wept silently asking what I had done to find myself in this new situation at this special time in life.  The voice reminded me, “Be patient, this is how it is today, tomorrow will be different.”  That was the motivational device I focused on to get me through that period.

Times of crisis and upheaval are tools that help us discover what we are really made of.  In his book The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, Deepak Chopra (2004) focuses on the coincidences that occur in our lives.  He calls these coincidences synchrodestiny and postulates that coincidences are messages; clues that we need to follow and pay attention to closely.  If we live our life with a better appreciation of coincidences and become sensitive to the underlying meaning of these events, we can achieve the spontaneous fulfillment of our deepest desires (Chopra, 2004).  I focused on the initiating structure and transactional leadership in the new organization, but was uninspired and unable to visualize a long-term future there.  I was merely going through the motions in an attempt to evaluate my life, formulate a plan, and redefine myself.  I was so unbalanced I was unable to observe the actions and paralanguage of my colleagues at the time.  In the broader scope of things, I came to acknowledge that this challenge presented an opportunity that taught me to adapt and sharpen my survivalist skills.

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One of the first acquaintances I made there was with a mature woman named Flo.  She was the Executive Administrator for the two founders and deeply committed to the organization in this hierarchal arena.  In fact because of role overload, she displayed a level of dedication beyond a normal employee.  She was the first person to arrive every day and usually one of the last to leave.  She was in her view, committed to pick up the slack of other employees whom she believed displayed levels of social loafing.

She was honest, trustworthy and hard working.  Her attitude however, did not reflect the good nature of her work.  Sensing my kind and introverted disposition, she took me in her confidence; revealed her assessments on the organizational structure through informal communication skills and conjectured her insights on the organizational politics shortly after my arrival.  She was opinionated, judgmental and spent most of our break time together complaining and engaged in negative feedback about other employees.  As a close friend of the organization’s founder I quickly found myself in an awkward situation.  I courteously engaged in active listening to the hardest working individual in the organization who had a beef to pick with everyone, including my childhood friend Bill.  I remained neutral and honored her work ethic.  I showed empathy allowing her a safe place to vent, keeping what she shared in strict confidence.

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Making an Organizational Fit

Billy is a leader that embraces employee empowerment, distributive justice and a style that reflected level 5 leadership skills (Baack, 2012).  He encouraged group cohesiveness, incorporated motivational techniques to inspire the staff, and guided the driving forces of influence in the organization.  The loan officers that rented office space were his colleagues and friends with established relationships built on trust.  He conducted daily and weekly meetings with staff members and loan officers going over goals, scheduling, and strategies that helped inspire individuals to build new leads and business relationships.  In addition, he was respected, had a strong family life, and displayed a high moral compass.  He embraced the component of valence by rewarding his staff with annual holiday parties, picnics, and company events for socializing and showed appreciation to personnel and clients equally.

The office support staff of administrators and loan processors identified the subculture within the organization.  The administrators consisted of the integral team that greeted clients, maintained the client database, and set-up and organized the filing systems.  The loan processors handled the extensive documentation that came through for the variety of loan transactions.

When the organization was flourishing, several members from upper management participated in programs to build their leadership skills and raise their levels of self-confidence within the corporate arena.  In addition, the co-founders were members and graduates of The CORE, one of the most elite Real Estate coaching programs in the nation.  This level of commitment to the institution was a key component in shaping the organization’s enacted and espoused values.  The extrinsic motives of the founders encouraged a strong commitment to the organization that was reflected in the intrapersonal relationships among staff members.  Flo was the only discontent staff member that I was aware of who eventually revealed she was also dealing with glass ceiling issues.

Things began to change quickly and drastically for me in the organization when my four year old contracted Pink Eye from the preschool within a few weeks of my employment.  By this time, I had been trained on the company’s IT server collecting data on the foreclosure activity in Tucson and the surrounding area.  Bill has four children and therefore a supportive commander that understands parental requirements, the need to deal with sick children, and on occasion, participate in school events.  I explained my child was under doctor orders to remain under quarantine for a week.  He was supportive and understood I had no choice but to remain at home during the healing process.  However, staying at home meant that I was unable to collect an income – or did it?

virtual-organisation

Virtually a New World

I had established a virtual office environment from my former production company with Berry.  I still had a home office equipped with state of the art computer technology, a high speed internet connection, and professional desktop publishing software.  I contacted my boss and asked if I could tap into his IT server from my home office to continue my task collecting data on the foreclosure project.  That was one of the wisest suggestions I made because I contracted the Pink Eye virus as well and was out sick for an additional week.  In the meantime, I continued to work as a telecommuter.

During that time, I was assigned to conceptualize a flyer for our foreclosure services.  My completion of this task revealed an expert power in graphic design and desktop publishing capabilities.  I created top notch professional advertising for the company’s needs that knocked the socks off the entire staff.  The organization realized the money they normally invested in professional advertising agencies would become a thing of the past now with a professional level graphic designer on the team. In fact, Bill was so impressed with my services he decided my telecommuting was more productive for the company.

people

People are what make the difference in a successful organization.  Problems can be avoided with the right frame of mind and strategic planning.  My little girl getting sick was the key component that allowed our organization to embark on the virtual team experience.  I proved that as an employee I was more valuable in a virtual environment setting where I could provide effective and superior products as well as participate as a full time parent for my child.  The new arrangement worked out so well, that by the time my daughter was enrolled in kindergarten I was able to volunteer weekly as a helping mom at her school.

The solution we adapted was instrumental in my own personal healing process.  I discovered a means to embrace this new organizational environment and incorporate my creative training and skills.  It made me feel valued and gave me a sense of accomplishment.  In addition, I was able to continue to fulfill my duties as a stay-at-home mom, which in my view was always the priority.  I was now beginning to thrive.

I was elevated to the position of Director of Marketing within a few years of my employment at the organization and remained there for about seven years.  Unfortunately the company became another victim of the mortgage and loan crisis of 2008.  By 2009 the organization was in the process of filing bankruptcy and I was once again facing unemployment.  I quickly found a solution because of the high levels of academic success I helped my daughter achieve, and was hired as a private learning coach.  Sadly, due to an internal organizational upheaval, that occupation turned out to be short term.

In the meantime from my established virtual office I began providing social media and marketing services as an independent contractor.  Bill in the interim created a new private lending business and continues in his efforts to support us by hiring my services.  The work load is not at the same level as when I was employed full time at the mortgage company, but we are optimistic and working hard to build our businesses.

seedsofsuccess

The Seeds of Success

We exist in a culture that expresses a desire to achieve high levels of success because it makes us feel special.  It is a philosophy that conditions us to look outside ourselves for validation and is identified as object referral (Chopra, 2012).  However, when we silence the mind to find solutions, we can begin to discover that everything we desire, we have within us the power to achieve.  Each challenging situation presents new opportunities to redefine priorities, explore other options and find creative solutions.  The perceived setback I experienced in the dissolution of my marriage was actually an opportunity for me to remove myself from a toxic relationship and begin a journey to find and plant the seeds of my own desires with no limits to what I can have.

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Conclusion

An analysis of the organizational structure and of various behavioral components at my former places of employment has been instrumental in my ascertaining both the positive and negative influences of the organizational experiences that continue to shape my life and career path.  Unlimited potential can be acquired with an understanding of the true nature of reality, a willingness to recognize the interrelatedness, and inseparability of all things.  Then aided by specific techniques and strategies a world opens up with good luck and opportunities that popped up every once in a while, that begin to occur more frequently.  This is the synchrodestiny Deepak Chopra refers to.  It gives us the ability to make real decisions instead of blind guesses.  It allows us to see meaning in the world, understand the connectedness of all things and gives us the confidence to choose the kind of life we want to live.

We gain the ability to transform our lives according to what we put attention on, how we focus our intentions, and by tuning in to the environment; each dancing to the rhythm of the cosmos.  The intelligence of the spiritual province is what organizes energy soup into knowable entities.  It is what binds quantum particles into atoms, atoms into molecules, and molecules into structures (Chopra, 2004).  It is the blind faith that knowingly guides us to where we need to go to emerge into the wonderful individuals we are destined to become.  In conclusion, challenges, once we are willing to embrace them, present the seeds of success that open us to the lavish banquet of life that unfolds before us in all its magnificence.

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Personal note: I will be taking a brief winter break. Look for new posts in mid January of 2013.
Warm wishes to everyone for a Happy New Year!

References:

Baack, D. (2012). Organizational behavior. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Campbell, J. (1991). A Joseph Campbell reader: Reflections on the art of living. (D. Osbon, Ed., p. 18). New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishing.

Carr, A., & Hancock, P. (2006). Space and time and organization change. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd.

Chopra, D. (2004). The spontaneous fulfillment of desire. New York, NY: Harmony Books.

Chopra, D. (Composer). (2012). The seeds of success. [D. Chopra, Performer] On 21 day meditation challenge: Creating abundance [Audio Sound Recording]. San Diego, CA, USA: D. Chopra.

Earley, P. C. (1997). Face, harmony and social structure. (p. 176). New York NY: Oxford University Press.

Hiriyappa, B. (2009). Organizational behavior. New Delhi, India: New Age International Publishing.

Roberts, W. (1985). Leadership secrets of Atilla the Hun. New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc.

Silva, J. (1977). The Silva mind control method. New York, NY: Pocket Books.