Glass takes over where Mr Sam Left – A case on expectancy

Sam Walton had charisma. His people loved “Mr Sam” as he was known throughout the organization. Wal-Mart’s associates were motivated not only by the company’s treatment of employees, but by Mr Sam himself. When Walton died, the Wal-Mart style could have faltered. But it did not.

In 1988, four years before Walton’s death, David D Glass was named CEO of Wal-Mart. A Fall 1992 Fortune survey named him the most admired CEO. After picking up the reins at Wal-Mart, he was demonstrated that the culture instilled by Walton can be carried on without its creator.

Like Walton, Glass recognizes the value of the front line associates those who interact with the customers daily. A shopper, recognizing Glass as the CEO, walked up to him and said, “So you are the big man” Without missing a beat Glass responded, “Nah,… I just front this deal”.

Carrying a notebook in lieu of Mr Sam’s tape recorder, Glass continues the practice of visiting stores. On one occasion, when an employee complained that the store was not using environmentally responsible trash bags, Glass responded, “No? Well, the buyer’s up here today. Just go and hang him.

Glass’s interaction with associates entails more than seeking them out in the stores. He is available to his associates at all hours, wherever he is. He has even been known to receive phone calls at motels where he was staying while out-of-town. One warehouse worker in Texas, who felt he was unjustly fired, tracked Glass down at 11.00 pm at his motel room. The worker had called Glass’s home in Bentonville, Arkansas, where Mrs. Glass freely gave there worker the number where her husband could be reached.

The result is that Wal-Mart associates’ aim high. “Our people are relentless,” said Glass. And a large part of their drive stems from the goals and expectations Glass sets. There is no question that his expectation is 110 percent, noted one senior executive. I mean, he never has to tell you. You know what it is before you ever talk to him.

According to expectancy theory, people choose how to behave from among alternative courses of action, based on their expectations of what there is to gain from each action. David Nadler and Edward Lawler describe four assumptions about behavior in organizations on which the expectancy approach is based.

1. Behavior is determined by a combination of factors in the individual and factors in the environment.
2. Individuals make conscious make conscious decisions about their behavior in the organization.
3. Individuals have different needs desires and goals.
4. Individuals decide between alternative behaviors on the basis of their expectations that a given behavior will lead to a desired outcome.

These assumptions become the basis for the so-called expectancy model, which has three major components:

1. Performance outcome expectancy: Individuals expect certain consequences of their behavior. These expectations, in turn, affect their decisions on how to behave. For example, a worker who is thinking about exceeding the sales quota may expect praise, a bonus, no reaction, or even hostility from colleagues.
2. Valence: The outcome of a particular behavior has a specific valence, or power to motivate, which varies from individual to individual. For example, to a manager who values money and achievement, a transfer to a higher paying position in another city may have high valence; to a manager who values affiliation with colleagues and friends, the same transfer may have low valence.
3. Effort performance expectancy: People’s expectations of how difficult it will be to perform successfully affect their decisions about behavior. Given a choice, individuals tend to select the level of performance that seems to have the best chance of achieving an outcome they value.