CDW Computer Centers and The Container Store won this year's Performance Through People Awards from the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement at Northwestern University. The awards were presented September 18 at the Motivation Show in Chicago.

The Forum chooses winners based on a number of criteria, including how they empower employees to service customers at the highest possible level, how they recognize the role of employees in retaining customers, and how they regularly measure performance. Winning companies must include human resource and motivation issues in their overall corporate objectives; be committed to employee development, including training; and demonstrate a link between people performance management and sales and profit.

That's certainly the case at The Container Store, Dallas, which developed its Foundation Principles in 1988. Among those principles are philosophies such as “Fill the other guy's basket to the brim. Then making money becomes an easy proposition,” and “Intuition does not come to an unprepared mind. You need to train before it happens.”

“The Foundation Principles let our employees know that no matter how big the company gets, these six sort of ‘do unto others’ principles help guide us, keep us on track, stay focused, and keep us all happy as employees,” says The Container Store spokeswoman Kelly Vrtis.

Art Friedson, director of co-worker services at computer reseller CDW Computer Centers, headquartered in Vernon Hills, Ill., developed that company's goals, which include recognizing employees and building an environment of co-worker commitment, involvement, and empowerment, what he referred to in the awards ceremony as “a flat and fun organization.” Training is also an important part of the culture at CDW, which has its own corporate university.

For more information on the Performance Through People Awards, visit