HR restructure paves way for M&S road to recovery

HR restructure paves way for M&S road to recovery

May 12, 2021 gmgroinyygii 0

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. HR restructure paves way for M&S road to recoveryOn 11 Jun 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Marks & Spencer’s HR director admits she has learned more about humanresources in the last two years than in her previous 21 at the UK’s largestclothing retailer. Over the past year, Helena Feltham has restructured the company’s HR team tobetter support the business strategy and is now driving a culture change inperformance management. In anticipation, she completed a course in strategic HRat the London Business School. “I’ve had to take my brain out andre-programme it,” she said. The ‘surgery’ appears to be working. Last month, M&S reported anincrease in pre-tax profits of 31 per cent to £647m for the past financialyear. It plans to open 20 small food stores this year, creating about 1,000 newjobs, a far cry from October 2000 when its share price hit a low of £1.71(shares are now trading at nearly £4) and cost-cutting was top of the agenda. Its new 17-strong leadership team – many of whom were recruited from outsideM&S – launched its business strategy in March. The approach is based onrestoring the UK market and offloading its loss-making overseas chains. M&S is trying to regain dominance in clothing and speciality foodthrough exploiting the value of its brand and is developing new product areas. Feltham said: “We had to be clear about our strategy and the unique andfundamental strengths of the business. “We have had to go back to what made us great – including 100 per centown brand, superior quality and innovation – and this has to be underpinned andexecuted through the talent and capability of our people.” Key appointments highlighted this change in direction, and Feltham played aleading role in the recruitment drive. (see box). “The recovery has been about getting leadership capability in place. Wehave very quickly put together a good leadership team, in which HR played a keyrole,” she said. The HR team has been more closely integrated with the business to supportthe retailer’s strategy. She explained: “We took HR away from centralareas and embedded it in their business areas, so every business head – whetherthey be a board member or store manager – is clear about who their HR partneris. “HR is now a fundamental part of senior teams in all business areas,and it sits down with them from the inception of their commercial strategy.People strategy is constantly being developed alongside the commercialstrategy, and that is a huge change.” M&S cut 60 HR jobs as part of the restructure and now has 205 at HQ.”It was a difficult time because it became very obvious to me that weneeded fewer and better people,” said Feltham. The new-look HR team is focused on delivering high performance. It isreviewing recruitment procedures to ensure it hires those who fit its ‘ways ofworking’ targets, which include customer focus, passion, team working andlistening and learning. Feltham said: “The big thing is talent and capability. We learned thatgetting the right people in the right place at the right time has to be ouroverall focus. The recruitment and retention of fantastic people is it.” To incentivise staff, M&S introduced a new bonus scheme last year.Employees receive a bonus if their store or region exceeds sales targets on aquarterly basis, and they have worked more than 96 per cent of their contractedhours during the period. Improved feedback from the shop floor has also been vital to improvingperformance, said Feltham. A regular staff survey has been introduced andbusiness involvement groups – which have six elected members of staffrepresented – have been set up in each store. She said: “We are working hard to do things in the right order. It isimportant to know if the leadership team is creating the right conditions forsuccess and helping their people to do a great job.” Staff feedback has highlighted that while M&S is improving its customerfocus, employees are uncertain about how to improve their performance. A new performance management system was launched for all 60,000 staffalongside the business strategy in March, and includes a performance review,objective setting, development planning and performance coaching. This is supported by a dedicated performance management team headed byMagdalen Chadbourn, which was created with the relaunch of the HR departmentlast October. Feltham explained that M&S lost the link between individual and groupperformance and has responded by pulling together learning, reward and careerdevelopment in one team. “People seemed to think the performance of thecompany could be OK if individual performance wasn’t improving. We weren’t confidently asking ourselves the question what is the businesstrying to deliver here, and how do we incentivise that through our HR policiesand practices,” she said. Blanket training programmes are no longer being used and the training teamare treating staff as individuals, offering extra learning and careerdevelopment. She said: “Getting the right balance between buying or building peopleis important – we have to make sure all the frameworks are in place to grow ourown staff.” Much of M&S’s learning investment is initially going into the HR team.Feltham said: “I’m not being parochial – we have to put ourselves first. Ihave to get this team right if they are going to be trusted business partners. “We have taken a deliberate stance that unless we are role-modellingeverything we are guiding the organisation to do, then we don’t have a right tobe here.” Despite the encouraging financial results – M&S is outperforming thebenchmark FTSE 100 by 14 per cent so far this year – Feltham stressed that therecovery is still “work in progress”. The potential for outsourcing and self-service HR, for example, is beingexplored by a new people proposition team, headed by Denise Keating, recentlyrecruited from Nationwide. HR will continue to play a central role. She said: “HR has played afantastic part in the results and people are feeling really proud for the firsttime in a long time.” By Mike Broad last_img

 

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