Most retail environments are plagued by high turnover. While some of this has to do with a lack of motivation, much of the problem lies in the company's inability to create high-performance teams capable of taking on challenges and making decisions with peers to help solve problems within the company (Janis, 1972). In any environment, when a successful team is lacking, so too is motivation and consistency of performance. None of these traits are evident however, within the Container Store's case study.
Escalation of commitment - the Container store adopts the ideal of escalation of commitment as stated by the store's managers who follow the McGregor Theory Y This theory suggests that employees are not by nature "lazy" and will often perform in the best manner possible and commit to the company if given an opportunity to feel empowered to make decisions without the need to "check in" with members of the management first. Employees at the Container Store also receive cross-training so they are able to understand other people's jobs so that jobs "become more interesting." If managers at the store did not work to engage employees in a way that escalated their level of commitment, they would likely face much greater turnover and conflict within the corporate culture. They may even experience a lack of culture because no one person would devote their work or time to realizing group and organizational goals as much as personal goals (Wittke, 1994).
Personality conflicts - There is not much in the way of evidence suggesting there is any personality conflict within the Container store. Quite the opposite is true. According to the case study, all members of the store, including employees of varying ranks, are encouraged to work with each other to develop long-term solutions and create an environment that welcomes customers in a warm and caring manner. If the store did not promote the ideals of empowerment and open-channels of communication, personality conflicts would likely arise.
Formal and informal communication channels - There are formal and informal communication channels at the Container Store. According to the vice president of logistics at the Container Store, employees receive daily coaching thus are continually learning. Managers must work daily and weekly with employees so they are able to develop their skills and "enhance strengths" through direct communication in both formal and informal ways. The president and CEO also supports this supposition, stating one of the primary factors motivating employees at the Container Store is indeed, proper channels of communication. Employees receive formal education and communication from managers, but also engage in informal communication with their peers no matter the position they hold.
Empowerment - There is not doubt the Container store utilizes the concept of empowerment (Witte, 1994) as the store co-founder states that "great services requires motivated employees who are empowered to exceed customer expectations. Because the store adopts this philosophy they are able to sustain a team of motivated and empowered employees, thus there turnover rate is much lower than it might be if the interests of employees were not considered.
Transformational Leadership - Typically one may associate transformational leadership as a form of leadership that elicits positive change within an organization (Wittke, 1994; Weiner, 1986; Ahlfigner & Esser, 2001). Transformational leadership is the type of leadership that is not reactive to the environment around it, but rather proactive in nature, a trait the Container Store demonstrates. Without this grounding, the organization would likely succumb to conflict and disintegration of unity among employees and managers. The Container Store indirectly supports transformational leadership as it encourages a new paradigm or model for systems operations, one that considers the needs of the employee and the customer directly, rather than one that considers the needs of the organization as a foreign or separate entity.
Ahlfigner, N.R. & Esser, J.K. (2001). Testing the groupthink model: Effects of promotional leadership and conformity predisposition. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 29(1): 31-42.
Janis, I.L. (1972). Victims of groupthink. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Vroom, V.H. (1964). Work and Motivation. New York: Wiley
Weiner, B. (1986). An attributional theory of emotion and…