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The Container Store... A Culture Organized for Employees

posted Apr 16, 2013, 11:21 AM by Lisa Shelley   [ updated Jul 23, 2013, 1:58 PM ]

“From Day 1 I felt valued, empowered and trusted.” This is a pretty impactful statement for any employee to make.

However when you consider that this is the reflection of an employee starting a job as a seasonal cashier, it’s not a surprise to learn that her company just celebrated its 14th year on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Places to Work” list.

The Container Store simply gets it.

To begin, the company understands and holds as one of its core principles that a great employee is worth three good employees. The management clearly recognizes the direct connection between the capability, energy and passion of the employees and the success of the business. And there is a clear understanding that having great employees requires not just hiring great people, but maintaining a culture that allows them to feel valued and empowered from Day One.

Add to all of that, a dose of inspiration, and you have a powerful recipe for great employees, who ultimately make a great business possible.

What Kip Tindell, co-Founder and CEO of the Container Store, has done seemingly instinctively, is to build a culture in direct support of human motivational needs. Albert Maslow first introduced the concept of human motivation stemming from a hierarchical set of needs in his 1943 paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation”.

MaslowMaslow proposed that each higher level need builds on the foundation of the previously met need. Once a person’s basic survival and security needs have been met, humans are motivated by the Social need to Belong, the Esteem need to Achieve and ultimately by the need to Self-Actualize or to contribute to something bigger than themselves.

The management clearly recognizes the direct connection between the capability, energy and passion of the employees and the success of the business.

Putting this in terms of work, we all want to be a respected and valued part of the team. We want to be empowered to complete goals and achieve. And ultimately we are inspired by the opportunity to make an impact on something bigger than ourselves.

The Container Store believes in “Putting the Employees First,” and everything that follows from that core belief results in employees feeling respected, valued and a part of the team from Day One. Add to this mantra, over 260 hours of training in the employees’ first year, plus 170 hours per year of additional training after that, and you have an employee who has the tools they need for success… they are empowered to contribute.

What Kip Tindell, co-Founder and CEO of the Container Store, has done seemingly instinctively, is to build a culture in direct support of human motivational needs.

Inspired? The Container Store’s selective, employee-run hiring process yields people – often customers themselves – who are zealots about helping others improve the quality of their lives through organization.

It’s a simple formula that can work in any organization.

Respect. Empower. Inspire.

The trick is to remember it’s a hierarchy. It’s difficult to inspire someone who doesn’t feel like a valued member of the team. They are much more likely to seek inspiration elsewhere.


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