Business Ethics

In the last one decade, running a profitable and sustainable jewelry retail store comes along with several challenges especially with the emergence of online shops. The problems can be devastating particularly without proper planning or careful attention to the various facets of the business that make operations and customer experience effective. In this context and for the retails store to remain in-line with their online competitors, many retailers are investing in technology to increase efficiency (Sherman & Tae, 2016). Others with multi-location outlets are redesigning the store processes with point-of-sale software to make communication with other stores and clients effectively. Apart from the online stores and technology, large discounters are also entering the market adding competition, especially with their low priced goods. Ideally, at the center of the emerging competition, the role of management is to maximize customer satisfaction through quality and valuable products for sustainable profits and organization success. In addition to control, employees play a critical role in organizational success. However, for employees to realize their full potential, they must fit within the organization’s culture, values, symbols, rules, and rituals among other elements. Virtually, organization ethics are also associated with employee commitment to organizational goals and objectives. More importantly, organizations must be able to transmit their culture and values to their employees to provide a direction to the type of behavior that is expected of them, to help them identify with company values and practices, and to help new employees transition smoothly. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Krissy’s case, raising the ultimate question; do company ethics only have meaning when applied to specific situations?

Case Study Analysis

Key Events Leading to Empty Displays

Ideally, trouble began on Tuesday morning when Krissy took the weekly conference alone. Mirela had called in sick, although it later emerged that she fought with her husband, which was her reason for her absence. When Robert called, he announced that the company was changing the company image with an old line product repositioning. Since Mirela, the store manager was not present; it was upon Krissy to clear the windows and order Azalia and Nataliya to assemble the four Sweetie bracelets with charm stories on the store’s display. Unfortunately, Krissy was caught up with another call with Mirela, and when she went back to the sales floor, she found the bracelets mismatched. When Krissy requested Nataliya to remake the bracelet, she complained that Krissy should have given the instructions before she started making the bracelet. Krissy apologized as two customers entered to see Sparkle Stardust Collection. Krissy being anxious to make last minute sales had to work alongside the two employees to ensure the two friends made a purchase. At the end of the store operating hours, Krissy realized that the Sweetie bracelets were still missing in the display and Nataliya wanted to leave. She released the two employees and sought to redo the display. However, Krissy was not aware that it was against the building code of operations for employees to stay past 8 pm without an approval code from Mirela or Christine – the district manager. Krissy has no option but to leave hoping to work on the display window early the next morning. 

What would have been done differently?

When Krissy joined the organization, she was motivated by the company’s culture and values. As Sherman & Tae (2016) highlight, the company indicated their value for their employees’ values and offering the best opportunities and support for employees’ knowledge, skills, and behavior. The company also believed in teamwork, respect among colleagues, and comradely. Ideally, it seems that Krissy relied on the spirit of collaboration and comradeship when she hoped that Nataliya would instead stay behind and assist her. It was in the same team spirit that Krissy helped Azalia and Nataliya to top up on the sales of the day. Unfortunately, when Azalia offered to help, Krissy was more worried about the company incurring more costs than the sales they had made for the day. In light of this information, this raises the ultimate question, what would Krissy have done differently and why to prevent the catastrophe? Ideally, Mirela had hinted to Krissy the importance of paying close attention to her sales associates and knowing them better. Virtually, had she considered knowing her team members, maybe she would have prevented the standoff that occurred between her and Nataliya when she snapped about not getting the full instructions. Krissy had a responsibility to explain to Nataliya about her expectation and not assume that she would do the right thing automatically. Similarly, even though after three months Krissy received no formal training about the company, she should have been interested to know about the company policy. This way she would have been aware that staying past 8 pm required an approval code and would have sought it earlier to avoid leaving the store display empty.

Who was at Fault for the Empty Displays?

In the business world, it is hard for an organization to shield itself from commercial or public disaster. In the same case it happened with Krissy, most times when problems occur in an company, management always gets the blame. In the case of Links of London case study, the ultimate question remains, who was at fault for the empty displays? Firstly, Krissy was at fault because she ignored knowing her sales associates, and the way they reacted if they were reprimanded. As a result, she failed to give clear instructions about the way she wanted Nataliya to do the Sweetie Charm Bracelet leading to a confrontation and delay in arranging the displays. Secondly, Nataliya was partly at fault; one because she was rude to her superior when she failed to meet the expectations of the design, and two because she decided overlooked the needs or the organization, her commitment, and responsibility to always work for the organization success. Thirdly, the management was at fault because they failed to give Krissy any formal training on the organization operations. The manager had a responsibility to brief Krissy on what is expected, in case she delayed at the store beyond 8 pm. In addition to the above, it was evident that Nataliya was not an asset to customer service; the manager and the district had a responsibility to understand why she was not always polite especially to colleagues and work on improving her attitude through the necessary methods such as formal training to develop her customer service skills. Lastly, although the company advocated for teamwork, it seems that the management failed to mobilize this aspect within the organization. It was imperative that as a culture of the team, the manager and the district manager encourage employees to develop a culture of teamwork and comradeship.   

Immediate Difficulties as Krissy leaves the Store’s Selling Floor

The first difficulty began as Krissy left the selling floor to make a call to Mirela; she gave instructions to clear the Sparkle Stardust from the window displays. By doing this, the window displays were left empty for the customer to see before assembling the Sweetie bracelets. The second difficulty came up when she asked Azalia and Nataliya to assemble four Sweetie bracelets with themed stories. Ideally, Krissy only gave instructions to assemble the bracelets without enquiring from the employees if they had the knowledge and skills to do the right design. 

Solving the Issues as a Store Manager

An attractive product display can draw a customer into the store or announce new arrivals, or a sale among others. Like any other aspect of retailing, a visual display provides several opportunities to a store. When Krissy instructed the two employees to remove the Sparkle Stardust, the window display was left empty. Ideally, the right thing would have to first assemble the Sweetie Bracelet and only remove the Sparkle Stardust later. Secondly, to counter the second difficulty, Krissy should have given clear instructions to the two employees on how she wanted the themed Sweetie bracelets done.

Culture of the NY Store

Links of London prides itself as an iconic British brand, and their employees reflect the core values of the organization (Sherman & Tae, 2016). Firstly, the company advocates for accountability and being proactive. Secondly, the company is passionate and innovative. Employees should be passionate about the brand and always be creative in creating innovative solutions for improved performance. Thirdly, the employees of the company are ambitious and driven to collaborate as a team to succeed. Another thing, people within the organization must be knowledgeable about the brand and engaging with the customers at every level. The company also expects employees to be respectful to others and approach with honesty and integrity. In Along with that, the company is committed to creating a learning environment by offering people the right opportunities and support to further their knowledge and skills. In addition to the above, the company also relies on training and development as a teambuilding initiative to improve employee performance. Ideally, when Krissy joined the organization, it was because she felt that the culture and values of the company respected dedication, hard work, leadership, and teamwork.  In a way, Krissy fits in the organization especially with her dedication and hard work. However, Krissy lacks the appropriate leadership skills to manage the employees. The lack of teamwork within the company does not align with the values of Krissy.

The Gap in Organization Culture

Unfortunately, in several ways, what the organization portrays in their website as their culture is not what they practice within the organization. The contrast can be interpreted as false advertising, or there may be other explanations. Ideally, organizational culture is socially learned and transmitted by the employees of the organization (Tsai, 2011). Similarly, every company requires a leader who is committed to foster employees and to be powerful enough to influence them to practice the organization culture. In essence, the success of an organization culture relies on a strong and visionary leader who is committed to making the organization better. Thus, as conceptualized along this continuum, there is a vacuum in the leadership of the company. Along with that, it seems that there is a bad interaction between the leaders and subordinates, making it hard for the top leadership to pass on the company cultures and values to the employees.

Ideally, the case of Krissy’s experience at the Links of London presents a perfect example of situation ethics. Nataliya decided that the organization culture of respecting others and working as a team was not important as compared to her party. Instead of observing the spirit of teamwork she chose to leave. The management is also focused on retaining Nataliya who is an asset because of her ability to relate with the Russian financiers and not because of her excellent customer care skills. In light of this, this study can conclusively assert that ethics only have meaning when applied to a specific situation.

References

Sherman, H., & Tae, T. (2016). Linking” expectations and culture at links of London. Journal of Business and Retail Management Research, 10(3), 57-68.

Tsai, Y. (2011). Relationship between Organizational Culture, Leadership Behavior and Job Satisfaction. Bmc Health Services Research, 11(1), 1-9. 

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