The contemporary society and its transformation contributed to the development of many sociological concepts, which explain the interconnected nature of human relations both in real life and business. George Ritzer observed behavioral patterns of people on the basis of the influence of the external environment and the development of humanity in general. Fast food restaurants became valuable factors in defining human behavior in business and real-life aspects. The sociologists associated the performance of many companies with the speed of services at McDonald’s, which obtained enough spread due to globalization. Arlie Hochschild also contributed to the development of sociology by emphasizing the need to control personal emotions by means of emotional management. A thorough consideration of McDonaldization concept and emotional management can help to analyze personal experience when holding the position of a sales associate at Walmart from the sociological point of view.
Ritzer’s Concept of McDonaldization
The concept of McDonaldization first appeared in the book of the sociologist George Ritzer titled The McDonaldization of Society. It is one of the primary ways of describing social behavior of the community by associating it with peculiarities of the fast food restaurant. The concept became the reconsideration of scientific management, rationalization, and the model of bureaucracy introduced by Max Weber. Ritzer proposed a sociological point of view, which explains that it is more convenient to understand the contemporary society with the help of analyzing it in terms of fast food restaurant behavioral patterns. The author of the concept believes that the proposed theory performs a dominating role in the contemporary society, which requires reconsidering human relations in general. Globalization made the concept widespread all over the world.
According to Ritzer, there are four main aspects of McDonaldization, including efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. In terms of the concept, efficiency means that every individual aims to accomplish the task as fast as possible that is equal to the behavior of customers at McDonald’s. Continuous reduction of time is the key element in the concept relating to the aspect of efficiency. Calculability, in its turn, lies in the mandatory rule making objectives quantifiable instead of pursuing their subjective nature. It means that it is essential to focus on sales of the products rather than tastes of customers. According to the concept, the quantity of sold products identifies their quality. The customers would not be willing to purchase vast amounts of products if they were of low quality. Organizations pursuing the concept of McDonaldization are grounded on the speed of employees’ performance rather than quality of their input. The concept of predictability and standardization claims that notwithstanding the place where the customer decides to buy products or services, it is obvious that the purchase will be the same on the basis of the McDonaldization principle (Ritzer 379). All organizations perform in a highly competitive environment, which makes them benchmark their approaches against those pursued by their competitors in order to attract customers. As a result, the myriad of products and services obtain similar characteristic traits. Finally, Ritzer’s theory lies in the replacement of employees by technologies, which improves standardization of the processes.
Hochschild’s Concept of Emotional Management
Emotional management is the process of regulating personal emotions and feelings in order to meet job requirements. Employees should manage to control their feelings while interacting with customers, colleagues, and suppliers. Otherwise, emotional expressions may prevent them from fulfilling personal duties with high efficiency and productivity. Arlie Hochschild defined emotional labor as a form of emotional management, which creates visible bodily and facial expressions according to the requirements of the workplace. Emotional management is also associated with private life, which shows the ability of the individual to regulate the manifestation of different emotions. According to Hochschild, there are three emotional management strategies, namely expressive, bodily, and cognitive.
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Expressive strategy focuses on the regulation of gestures supporting the manifestation of inner feelings. For example, happiness is always accompanied by smiling and even laughing, which proves that an individual is highly satisfied. Bodily emotion management is a specific way of changing physical indicators of emotions in order to hide the real reaction to words or events in the external environment. For example, deep breath and clenched fists indicate individual’s desire to hide anger and rage. Finally, cognitive emotion management focuses on the desire of an individual to change thoughts or images associated with specific feelings in order to alter the reactions to them. For example, when it is inappropriate to laugh at the meeting, employees may try imagining sad pictures to calm down and avoid the burst of laughter. Emotional management teaches people to choose appropriate emotions according to the situation on the grounds of expectations of other people. For example, one may not feel happy at the wedding, which will make him accommodate to the situation by pretending to be happy in order to meet expectations of other people.
Emotional management takes place both in private life and workplace. In fact, the employer’s expectations represent a significant aspect in the performance of every employee. In this way, high accommodation skills help to comply with every situation and perform in a satisfying manner in order to impress the employer. Face-to-face contacts with customers and colleagues are the primary job requirements so that any employee should have outstanding skills in emotional management. Evidently, it is one of the most significant aspects in building personal reputation and company’s image. In addition, job positions which require an employee to evoke the emotional state in another person also involve emotional management. In this way, the majority of employees have to be estranged from their inner feelings in the workplace in order to meet requirements of the employer and customers. Otherwise, job effectiveness will be significantly reduced due to the inability to meet expectations of other people.
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When talking about work experience, it is worth mentioning the position of a sales associate in one of the Walmart stores. The position became a valuable experience in understanding customers’ needs, their complaints, and tastes. The primary responsibility of a sales associate lies in continuous increase in the customers’ satisfaction level by providing them with excellent service and assistance in choosing products according to their needs. Customers were the primary focus of the performance, which contributed to all transformations of the sales area. In addition, the position implies taking continuous control over products’ characteristic features, their positioning in the market, and competitors’ ways of presenting products to the customers. Evidently, all these manipulations are necessary for meeting the sales goals of the store by continuous improvement of customers’ shopping experience. Specifically, it is possible to enlist the following responsibilities, which were mandatory for the sales associate in the workplace at Walmart:
- Interact with customers in the store in order to guide them in relation to their purchases by providing with latest information on products;
- Welcome customers and respond to their queries in a timely fashion;
- Meet monthly, quarterly, and annual sales goals;
- Effectively manage teamwork in order to ensure the development of high-quality services at the store;
- Monitor the implementation of the marketing campaigns and transformation of the interior;
- Handle customers’ complaints.
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In general, the position of a sales person brought valuable experience and knowledge of the internal processes of the retail industry from its lowest levels of performance. It showed that interactions with colleagues and customers are crucial to the success of the company as long as it is dependent on the customers’ willingness to return to the store the next time they need to buy something. A sophisticated understanding of sales principles and ways to improve customers’ service became valuable in building effective workplace relations. In addition, it would be impossible to work according to the employer’s expectations without knowledge of communication and skills in building interpersonal relations. While working as a sales associate, it became possible to learn the difficulties of working with hundreds of people on a daily basis due to their characteristic traits.
The analysis of the organization’s performance and personal experience while holding the position of a sales associate shows the presence of both Ritzer’s concept of McDonaldization and Hochschild’s emotional management. First, it is worth paying attention to the presence of Ritzer’s theoretical aspects. A retailing sphere is dependent on the concept of efficiency, which defines competitiveness of the company. While working at Walmart, it became possible to see the effect and significance of this concept. Apparently, interactions with customers are valuable and crucial to the success of the store. As a result, the whole store worked on accelerating the supply of products and queries processing in order to avoid making customers wait. In addition, calculability became the major indicator of the success of the store. The higher are the sales, the more customers are satisfied. Predictability and control are also common for the retailing sphere that is caused by significant competition. It defines the performance of every store and employee that are ready to offer the same myriad of products and services to customers as their competitors.
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Emotional management also had a significant role in the workplace while working as a sales associate. As long as the performance was highly associated with customers, the human factor played a major role in shaping effective performance techniques. First, bodily expressions had a myriad of manifestations in the workplace. In fact, dissatisfied customers represent the biggest threat to the emotional balance of a sales associate. It is challenging to stay calm when a dissatisfied customer complains about the quality of some of the products. Expressive emotion management also took place while working with customers in order to increase their satisfaction with services they received. For example, it became common to smile while welcoming customers and guiding them through the aisles of the store. Finally, it became an everyday practice to change images and thoughts in order to influence the emotional facial expressions while working with customers. For instance, funny questions were the most challenging ones in responding to queries without laughter or smile. In general, the work at the store went smoothly owing to personal ability to manage emotions and skills associated with them. It was necessary to build personal reputation and contribute to the development of the positive image of the store among customers.
The evaluation of both concepts showed the latest trends in the development of sociology and its effect on the society. McDonaldization became a significant aspect in the business area, which created a patterned business behavior in terms of rising competition. The position of sales associate also proved that George Ritzer was right in explaining the presence of his concept in every workplace. It happened for the reason of globalization pushing companies to using the same concepts in the face of competition. Arlie Hochschild also proved that emotional intelligence plays a major role in shaping human relations both in personal life and workplace environment of every individual. The position of sales associate at Walmart proved that customers may cause a myriad of emotions in the employee. In this way, effective emotional intelligence and management are crucial to personal career development and company’s good reputation.