HR Practices Implemented at Marks and Spencer

by Shamsul
Marks and Spencer HR Practices
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Marks and Spencer

The report discusses the present organizational structure and Human Resource practices implemented at Marks and Spencer. Owed to the company’s current business objectives, a lot of structural changes have been done in the organization, along with altering several HR practices as well. The report discusses how these structural changes have affected the organization and its daily operations.

The prime point of the report is on the Human Resource related changes that have brought about a change in Marks and Spencer’s organizational structure, along with discussing in detail how these practices have aided or hampered the organization’s current working.

Marks and Spencer Organizational Structure

The current organizational structure being practiced in Marks and Spencer is the flatter type of organization, where fewer layers of hierarchy are present, and a two-way communication system is followed, holding almost every employee responsible for undertaking their responsibilities by taking related decisions whenever and wherever needed (Morgan, 2015).

This new organizational structure is the most practical, logical, and scalable option for large organizations as it can deal with the rapidly changing market environment and accordingly make instant decisions to manage competitive advantage over competitors (Harris & Raviv, 2000).

Marks and Spencer’s previous traditional organizational structure was not able to deliver the swift actions required to maintain market competitiveness. Decisions to be taken took a lot of time to be initiated, as they had to follow the entire hierarchy to reach the top and back again by the time the initial decision would, at times, become obsolete altogether. In today’s dynamic markets, the need for instant decisions to be taken is significant, and the best structure that can facilitate this requirement is the flatter organizational structure which facilitates instant decisions to be taken at every level, thus aiding in maintaining competitiveness.

Corporate Culture at Marks and Spencer

As per Charles’s handy model of organizational culture, Marks and Spencer follow a role culture where every employee is given a role or responsibility in accordance with his or her qualifications and abilities, and in accordance with that, they are required to perform their role in their best capacity (Trowler, 2008). In this culture, the person assigned a job is usually responsible. For taking all related decisions to deliver the best possible results, likewise is also accountable for all the decisions and outcomes (MSG, 2017).

In Marks and Spencer, every individual has a particular job or role in the organization, which he himself is responsible for undertaking to ensure the best possible outcomes. All related decision to an assigned role is the power vested in every individual. However, they are responsible for the decision and are responsible to take full ownership of the role (Burnes, 2004). Like in this organizational culture everywhere, even in Marks and Spencer, an individual has power determined by the amount of responsibility he or she is bestowed upon by the organization’s work culture (Liao, 2005).

Management Style In Marks And Spencer

Among the three widely practiced management styles of autocratic, Laissez Faire and Democratic, Marks and Spencer is a clear case of the Democratic management style being practiced in the organization.

The reason Marks and Spencer employ the democratic management style is that it advocates creativity and allows full participation from every part of the organization, which is exceptionally healthy in case the organization requires incorporating innovation or new creative ideas in its daily work processes. Since everyone has the liberty to make decisions in their own spheres. A lot of fresh thought and ideas are in to derive better results. which is the requirement of today’s rapidly changing, dynamic environments. In such a system, every possible improvement option have a value, and staying up to date and in line with the current business trends and competitors are one significant factor of this management style (Buttner, 2001).

Another reason why this management style suits Marks and Spencer’s objectives is that it offers the required flexibility that offers the ability to adapt to changing environments swiftly and adjust organizational goals and practices in accordance with the need of time (Cherry, 2016).

Performance Management In Marks and Spencer

In Marks and Spencer, every employee undergoes a performance review or appraisal every six months, which defines how successful or unsuccessful he or she has been in delivering in the assigned role. This is one effective way of determining whether a person is capable of handling the vested responsibilities and whether any training and development activities are essential to bring out the best in an individual (Radin, 2006).

In the democratic management system followed by Marks and Spencer, this is an essential function as it is the exclusive way to assess how every individual in the organization performs. Since everyone is given the authority to make decisions on their own as they see fit, this is one way to make them accountable for their actions (Lin & Lee, 2011).

Training and Development In Marks and Spencer

Training and development is also an integral part of the Marks and Spencer organization. After every performance review of individuals where discussions with line managers and immediate bosses are made. The need for training and development is also analyez. No individual is complete in their talent and will always require extra help to bring out the best in them (Swart,, 2012).

This function guarantees that every individual performs to their maximum capacity and serves the organization to their best possible efforts. Through these management procedures, Marks and Spencer ensure its legacy of ruling the markets, which it has for decades.


Seeing the need of the changing times, Marks and Spencer decided to change its organizational structure from a rigid traditional model with a strict hierarchy to a more democratic, lesser hierarchy, and more role-oriented empowered management style. Every employee is responsible for their activities and decisions, and a regular bi-annual performance review ascertains that everything is going according to the best possible efforts. Lacking areas are centered on training and development activities, completing the entire democratic management structure. Which allows the company the flexibility and swiftness to respond instantly to the ever-changing market environments.

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Burnes B. (2004) Managing Change: A Strategic Approach to Organisational Dynamics, 3d ed. London:Prentice Hall.

Buttner, E. H. (2001) Examining “Female Entrepreneurs” Management Styles: An Analysis Using A Relational Frame. Journal of Business Ethics. 29, pp. 253-269.

Cherry, K. (2016) What Is democratic Leadership? (online) Available at [Accessed: 28 March, 2016].

Harris, M., & Raviv, A. (2000) Organizational design. (online) Available at [Accessed: 27 March, 2017].

Liao Y. (2005) Business Strategy And Performance: The Role Of Human Resource Management Control. Personnel Review. 34(3), pp. 294-309.

Lin, J. S., & Lee, P. Y. (2011) Performance Management in Public Organizations: A Complexity Perspective. International Public Management review. 12(2), pp. 81-96.

Morgan, J. (2015) The 5 Types Of organizational Structures: Part 2, flatter Organizations. (online) Available at [Accessed: 27 March, 2017].

MSG. (2017) Charles Handy Model of Organization Culture. (online) Available at [Accessed: 28 March, 2017].

Radin, B. A. (2006) Challenging The Performance Movement: Accountability, Complexity, and Democratic Values.  Washington DC:Georgetown University Press.

Swart, J., Mann, C., Brown, S., & Price, A. (2012) Human Resource Development. Great Britain: Routledge.

Trowler, P. (2008) Cultures and Change in Higher Education: Theories and Practices. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

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