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Name: Sharman Mohamed Shariff Student ID No.

CGS00421017
Center of Graduate Studies MPM Intake: May 2009

INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT

Case: The Container Store’s Motivating Experience


Source: Certo, Samuel & Trevis (2009) Modern Management 10e, pp. 436-437

Question 6a
How does the Container Store use behavior modification to motivate its
employees

Behavior modification is a strategy used by managers to motivate organization


members. As stated by B.F. Skinner, the Harvard psychologist considered by many to
be the father of behavioral psychology, behavior modification focuses on encouraging
appropriate behavior by controlling the consequences of that behavior. According to the
law of effect, behavior that is rewarded tends to be repeated, while that which is
punished tends to be eliminated.
Although behavior modification programs typically involve the administration of both
rewards and punishments, it is rewards that are generally emphasized because they are
more effective than punishments in influencing behavior. Obviously, the main theme of
behavior modification is not new.
Positive reinforcement is a reward that consists of a desirable consequence of behavior,
and negative reinforcement is a reward that consists of the elimination of an undesirable
consequence of behavior. According to behavior modification theory, positive
reinforcement and negative reinforcement are both rewards that increase the likelihood
that a behavior will continue.
Behavior modification programs have been applied both successfully and
unsuccessfully in a number of organizations. Management at Emery Worldwide found
that an effective feedback system is crucial to making a behavior modification program
successful. This feedback system should be aimed at keeping employees informed of
the relationship between various behaviors and their consequences.
Other ingredients of successful behavior modification programs are the following:
1. Giving different levels of rewards to different workers according to the quality of
their performances
2. Telling workers what they are doing wrong
3. Punishing workers privately in order not to embarrass them in front of others
4. Always giving out rewards and punishments that are earned to emphasize that
management is serious about its behavior modification efforts.
So, how does The Container Store use behavior modification to motivate its
employees? The first and foremost actions taken by The Container Store as explained
by Kip Tindell, CEO and co-founder of the company are by educating and empowering
the employees and providing them with the appropriate tools so that they could service
the customers to the fullest. Behavior modification is also use to unite the employees
into having a common goal. By providing top notch training, employees feel proud,
respected and confident in carrying out their daily work.
Communication of all type of information formerly regarded as ‘highly classified’ i.e.
chain-wide goals, daily sales results, facts and figures which are usually available only
to the most senior managers to the employees will make them (the employees) feel that
they are part of the company, hence, whatever actions they took during their course of
work would be carried out with the company’s goal at the top of their minds. As Kip
Tindell was saying as he acknowledges that even if there are risks involved, “but we
decided a long time ago that the advantages of communicating information that
empowers our employees and strengthens their development and loyalty far outweighs
the disadvantages of that information falling into the hands of competitors.”
The Container Store’s philosophy on employee development sets them apart from other
retailers. The Container Store matches employees’ strengths with the needs of the
company, focusing on talents rather than titles. By using the behavior modification
technique, they were able to achieve an annual turnover in full time employees of just
8% and for part-timers, 20%, far below that of a typical retail firm.
Name: Sharman Mohamed Shariff Student ID No.CGS00421017
Center of Graduate Studies MPM Intake: May 2009

Case: The Container Store’s Motivating Experience


Source: Certo, Samuel & Trevis (2009) Modern Management 10e, pp. 436-437

Question 6b
Do you think the Container Store would be a successful if its managers applied
Theory X assumptions? Why?

In his 1960 book, The Human Side of Enterprise, Douglas McGregor proposed two
theories by which to view employee motivation. He avoided descriptive labels and
simply called the theories Theory X and Theory Y. Both of these theories begin with
the premise that management’s role is to assemble the factors of production, including
people, for the economic benefit of the firm. Beyond this point, the two theories of
management diverge.
Theory X
Theory X assumes that the average person:
• Dislikes work and attempts to avoid it.
• Has no ambition, wants no responsibility, and would rather follow than lead.
• Is self-centered and therefore does not care about organizational goals.
• Resists change.
• Is gullible and not particularly intelligent.
Essentially, Theory X assumes that people work only for money and security. Drawing
on Maslow’s hierarchy, McGregor argues that a satisfied need no longer motivates,
Under Theory X the firm relies on money and benefits to satisfy employees’ lower
needs, and once those needs are satisfied the source of motivation is lost. Theory X
management styles in fact hinder the satisfaction of higher-level needs. Consequently,
the only way that employees can attempt to satisfy their higher level needs in their work
is by seeking more compensation, so it is quiet predictable that they will focus on
monetary rewards. While money may not be the most effective way to self-fulfillment, in
a Theory X environment it may be the only way. Under Theory X, people use work to
satisfy their lower needs, and seek to satisfy their higher needs in their leisure time. But
it is in satisfying their higher needs that employees can be most productive.
McGregor implies that managers who use Theory X assumptions are “bad”. Under
Theory X, management approaches can range from a hard approach to a soft
approach.
The hard approach relies on coercion, implicit threats, close supervision, and tight
controls, essentially an environment of command and control. The soft approach is to
be permissive and seek harmony with the hope that in return employees will cooperate
when asked to do so. However, neither of these extremes is optimal. The hard
approach would only result in hostility, purposely low-output, and hard-line union
demands. The soft approach on the other hand will result in ever-increasing demands
for more rewards in exchange for ever-decreasing work output.
The Container Store would not have been successful if its managers had been using
Theory X assumptions. This is due to, by focusing into the negative side of a person;
managers would not be able to bring forth the good side of them. For an organization
that pride itself on its employee development philosophy, this situation is unfathomable.
The best motivation strategy for managers is to communicate well with organization
members. Effective manager-subordinate communication can satisfy such basic human
needs as recognition, a sense of belonging, and security. For example, a simple
managerial action such as trying to get better acquainted with subordinates can
contribute substantially to the satisfaction of each of these three needs. Another
example, a message praising a subordinate for a job well done can help satisfy the
subordinate’s recognition and security needs.
Name: Sharman Mohamed Shariff Student ID No.CGS00421017
Center of Graduate Studies MPM Intake: May 2009

Case: The Container Store’s Motivating Experience


Source: Certo, Samuel & Trevis (2009) Modern Management 10e, pp. 436-437

Question 6c
Use the Porter-Lawler theory of motivation to explain the effect of the intrinsic
rewards that the Container Store’s employees receive from their work.

Lyman W. Porter and Edward E. Lawler developed a motivation theory that provides a
more complete description of the motivation process than either the needs-goal theory
or the Vroom expectancy theory. The process theory called the Porter-Lawler
Model suggests that levels of motivation are based more on the value that individuals
place on the reward. The components that effect motivation then, are called valence
(what's important to you) and expectancy (can I do it). Porter and Lawler suggest that
perceived inequality in this model plays a pivotal role in job satisfaction. Our motivation
or effort leads to performance. Our performance is followed by intrinsic and extrinsic
rewards. The perceived equity of those rewards leads to satisfaction.
Still, the Porter-Lawler theory of motivation is consistent with those two theories in that it
accepts the premises that felt needs cause human behavior and that effort expended to
accomplish a task is determined by the perceived value of rewards that will result from
finishing the task and the probability that those rewards will materialize. In other word,
actual performance in a job is primarily determined by the effort spent. But it is also
affected by the person’s ability to do the job and also by individual’s perception of what
the required task is. So performance is the responsible factor that leads to intrinsic as
well as extrinsic rewards. Hence, satisfaction of the individual depends upon the
fairness of the reward. This could be further illustrated by the figure 6.1 below.
FIGURE 6.1 The Porter-Lawler theory of motivation
The Motivation Process
In addition, the Porter-Lawler motivation theory stresses three other characteristics of
the motivation process:
1. The perceived value of a reward is determined by both intrinsic and extrinsic
rewards that result in need satisfaction when a task is accomplished. Intrinsic
rewards come directly from performing a task, while extrinsic rewards are
extraneous to the task.
2. The extent to which an individual effectively accomplishes a task is determined
primarily by two variables: the individual’s perception of what is required to
perform the task and the individual’s ability to perform the task. Effectiveness at
accomplishing a task increases as the perception of what is required to perform
the task becomes more accurate and the ability to perform the task increases.
3. The perceived fairness of rewards influences the amount of satisfaction produced
by those rewards. The more equitable an individual perceives the rewards to be,
the greater the satisfaction that individual will experience as a result of receiving
them.
Fulfilling the intrinsic rewards of its employees, what Container Store’s management is
saying is, “We will reward you accordingly depending on the efforts you put in for
realizing the company’s goals.” Porter-Lawler theory of motivation suggests that levels
of motivation are based more on the value that individuals place on the reward. The
more rewards and benefits received by the employees, the more motivated the
employees would be.

REFERENCE
1. Certo, S & Certo, T (2009) Modern Management 11e, Pearson Prentice Hall.
2. http://www.laynetworks.com/Theories-of-Motivation.html
3. http://www.netmba.com/mgmt/ob/motivation/mcgregor/
4. http://www.containerstore.com/careers/cultureAndBenefits.jhtml