Review of Corner Office -Three Good Hires? He’ll Pay More For One Who’s Great -Kip Tingdell Interview By Adam Bryant

Adam Bryant of the New York Times interviewed Kip Tindell – chief executive of the Container Store on March 14, 2010.

Questions ranged from how much to pay employees to leadership lessons to purposes of meetings.

HIRE GREAT EMPLOYEES BY PAYING MUCH ABOVE INDUSTRY STANDARDHe believes that one great employee can be as productive as three good people. Hence, they try to pay up to 100 percent above industry average to attract the great candidates. According to his philosophy, you’re paying two times the labor cost but hopefully getting three times the productivity.

While studying philosophy at the Jesuit High School in Dallas, he noticed most people thought that there should be separate code of conduct for business from your personal life. You are the same person; why not conduct business the same way it would be done in your personal life?

He goes on to talk about their foundation principles. He feels they may sound a little corny but it causes two things. It causes everybody to act as a unit. Even though we’re sort of liberating everybody to choose the means to the ends, we all agree on the ends, and the foundation principles are what cause us to agree on the ends.As a result, we have people unshackled to choose any means to those ends, but it’s not mayhem because our foundation principles kind of tie us together.

Kip believes the only information that is not appropriate to pass around is individual salaries. Otherwise, the company’s culture promotes relentlessly communicates almost everything to every single employee.

He concedes that sometimes there are too many people at the meeting but feels that may help to eliminate silos. They use the whole-brain concept…and he feels they get a lot of innovation through this approach.

There’s a real belief in meetings on our part. They’re passionate. They’re long. They’re frequent. We get tired of being in meetings all the time. I know the whole world feels that way, but I actually think we’re at meetings more than just about any other business I can think of. I think it’s good for us because of the communicative culture we have.

He feels there’s a natural tendency for more group communication at the company and he feels it can greatly be attributed to the fact that about 85 percent of our top leaders are women. He doesn’t think he’d see the same result if the organization was 85 percent men.

Well, it’s kind of a discussion more than questions. We’ll go into our heartfelt feeling about the type of business that we are. We believe that we’re trying to build sort of a mutually interdependent group of stakeholders made up of the employees, the customers, the vendors, the community — and all of those people are interdependent and balanced. So we’ll talk about that a lot and just see how they sort of react. Some people will think that sounds nutty or impossible. We’ll also work in a statement that communication and leadership are the same thing and see how they react to that.

He has set the tone at the Container Store to beg and plead to enable employees to feel comfortable and free to bring intuition to the work place. Because he feels intuition is the sum or your life experience, he feels this information and insight would be valuable and needs to be shared and passed along. Leverage intuition as much as you can.

Maybe the most important one is ”Fill the other guy’s basket to the brim. Making money then becomes an easy proposition.” That’s something that Andrew Carnegie attributed all of his business success to. It means creating a mutually beneficial relationship with everyone we work with.

And there’s ”air of excitement,” which just gets into the theatrical aspect of a business. Zabar’s on Broadway at about noon on a busy day is a good example of an air of excitement. Three steps into the door, you know if a place has it.

Most people’s wake is much, much, much larger than they can ever imagine. We all can’t imagine that we have as much impact on the people and the world around us as we really do. That’s just a way of getting people to see that everything you do, and everything you don’t do, impacts your business, the people around you, and the world around you, far, far, far more than you can imagine.

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.