Increasing employee engagement through HRM
A Harrods case study

Page 4: Leadership

Harrods 18 Image 13Leadership is important in shaping the culture of an organisation. There are two opposite poles in terms of leadership, these are autocratic and democratic. Autocratic leaders tell employees what to do. On the other hand, democratic leaders encourage input from employees, listen to their ideas and enable them to make decisions. Both styles have their place, depending on circumstances. For instance, in a crisis situation, such as a sharp drop in sales, immediate action is needed. In such circumstances an autocratic approach is required. However, when there is more time available, a democratic approach is often favoured. Harrods’ leadership focus is at the democratic end of the spectrum. Employees are listened to and their advice and ideas are used to make continuous improvements. The culture is thus one of trust and respect and is the key to Harrods’ employee engagement.

Harrods’ management is committed to fully developing its people so that employees, the business and its stakeholders are fully satisfied. There are three main elements of the democratic leadership approach at Harrods which encourage the development of its employees:

  • Talent spotting. This involves identifying talented people who can make important contributions to Harrods. Laura Gorse who works in the Learning and Development Department at Harrods illustrates this:

‘I had been training new starters – my total enthusiasm for the role must have been spotted by Harrods. At the time I was unsure about a new opportunity so I didn’t push myself but Harrods nudged me in the right direction and gave me a chance to succeed.'

  • Harrods 18 Image 6Mentoring and coaching. Mentors and coaches are people who act as advisors and guides, usually to those less experienced than themselves. Mentoring and coaching takes place through structured feedback and advice as well as through informal conversations. Line managers at Harrods are encouraged to communicate targets and advice to employees through face-to-face interactions. This might involve sitting down in the restaurant, or in a more formal setting, to agree objectives and to give advice about improvements and new ways of working. Acting as a coach helps the line managers to develop their managerial skills, build relationships and reinforce trust at Harrods.
  • Support networks. Managers meet regularly with other managers to share ideas and issues. For example the Retail Managers meet once a month with the Head of Retail to share insights and assess retail plans at both strategic and operational levels.

Each of the processes outlined above provides Harrods’ employees, both managers and front-line staff, with the confidence that they can make a difference and that their contributions are valued.

Harrods | Increasing employee engagement through HRM

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