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Generational differences in marks and Spenser




The paper mainly focuses on the leadership quality of a leading retailer in UK, Marks and Spencers. It mainly sheds lights on the generational difference of leadership, in the workplace. Because of the generational difference, the leader of the organization faces few problems in communicating with the employees. There are few theories regarding the leadership style in the organization. The theories help in the identification of the type of leadership that is involved with the organizations. Few recommendations are also provided in order to improve the leadership quality of the organization.


1.            Introduction

This paper is regarding the generational difference in the workplace. This paper discusses about the generational difference in leadership of the company Marks and Spencers, Uk. Marks and Spencers is considered as one of the leading retailers in the Uk, which has 21 million customers visiting their store every week. Marks and Spencers provide high quality products, such as, high quality clothes, home products and food. The company sources their products from 2,000 suppliers around the world. There are several branches of the company Marks and Spencers in 41 territories overseas and over 76,000 people work for this company. Marks and Spencers is a growing international business. They were the first to launch school wear that were generally made from recycled plastic bottle. The current operation of the Marks and Spencers Company is that after five years of planning for transformation, the company is now ready to open a new clothing and home distribution centre (Bolman and Deal, 2017). There are a number of competitors of the Marks and Spencers Company, for example, Selfridges, John Lewis, Stitch Fix and more. However, there are a number of issues noticed in the Marks and Spencers Company due to the generational difference in the workplace. Due to this generational difference in the workplace, the productivity of the organization is decreasing and it affects the company in many ways.

It is important to note that, the company Marks and Spencers saw a decrease in the market share of the company over a period of five years. Being the leading retailer in UK with 29.1 percent of the market share in 2007, it decreased to 23.3 percent in 2012, whereas the market share of its competitor John Lewis was 25 percent. This paper mainly sheds light on the issues that are faced  in the workplace because of the generational difference in leadership.

2.            Leadership Techniques

3.            Theories of 4I transformational leadership

Transformational leadership is said to be a style of leadership, where the leader works with the teams in order to identify the change that is required in the organization. They create a vision that helps them to guide the change through inspiration. The transformational style of leadership helps in motivating the followers with various mechanisms in order to enhance the job performance of the employees.

The contemporary environment of business and the previous literature on management and leadership mainly focus on the concept of diversity. According to Ashikali and Groeneveld (2015), in their work “Diversity management in public organizations and its effect on employees’ affective commitment”, argued that the term diversity is specific and contextual as well. Diversity is defined as the factors that are responsible for differentiating one person from another. The factors include personality, internal, external and organizational. 

There are four typical traits of transformational leadership, which are as follows-

Individual influence- The transformational leaders have the capability of transmitting a message to the team members individually. The transformational leader acts as a role model and spreads enthusiasm and integrity. There characteristics make them authentic and are reliable. These kind of attitude motivates the employees to work efficiently. The employees admire the leader because of their attitude and behavior towards them in the workplace (Fairhurst and Connaughton, 2014).

Inspiration- The transformational leaders have the capability of motivating and inspiring the employees. The combination of individual influence and inspirations are termed as the charisma of the transformational leaders. They leverage the meaning of the tasks they are provided with and the goals of the organization. The employees need inspiration in order to perform efficiently in the workplace. They have the capability to attract the team members in enhancing their performance by communicating with them in a proper way (Antonakis and Day, 2017).

Intellectual stimulation- The leaders train the followers to be creative and innovative. This is explained as the capability to challenge the people of the organization. They mainly question the old ways of doing things, conveying the new perspectives. The transformational leaders make the team members understand that they are all of the same level and transmit success to every individual in the organization. They train their people to be the best as only the best can achieve the goals and the objectives and thus motivating the employees. The leaders are required to identify the challenges in the organization due to the generational difference in their workplace in order to resolve the matter. They even challenge the status-quo (Ward, 2016).

Individual treatment- The transformational leaders pay attention to the individual employees of the team and develop the employees individually. The leaders genuinely care for the employees and understand the requirement of the employees. They build a healthy relationship between the leaders and the team members (Tourish, 2014).

If all the four I’s are present in the leadership management of an organization then it is said to be a transformational leadership.

LMX (Leader-member exchange)- This leader-member exchange theory explains the role of the leaders in a group in maintaining their position. There are two groups included in this theory, namely, the in- group and the out-group. The in-group mainly focus on their, whereas the out-group are provided with low levels of choice.

The LMX process includes three stages and this starts right after someone joining the group. The different stages involved are-

Role taking- After the members joining the team, the leaders assesses their talents and abilities. On the basis of their assessment, the leaders offer them few opportunities in order to demonstrate their capabilities. The key factor is that both the parties, the follower, consider it as the discovery stage and the leader as to how the other party likes to be respected (Engelen et al. 2015).

Role making- This is the second phase. Here, the leaders and the members of the group participate in an informal negotiation and a role is created for the members of the group. Building of trust is a vital factor in this stage and in case of feeling of betrayal, especially when it is from the leader, it can result in such a way that a member from the group will be transferred to the out-group (Susaki and Ueda, 2016).

The negotiation in this stage includes factors regarding relationship and pure work-related factors as well. The one in the group who is similar to the character of the leader, there is a high chance for them to succeed.

Routinization- In this stage, the pattern of social exchange between the members and the leaders are being established.

To the leader, the successful members are similar in many ways. In order to build trust and respect the employees work hard. The quality of the LMX relationship has several factors (Banerjee et al. 2016). It is considered to be much better when the challenge of the job is extremely high or extremely low. The size of the group plays an important role here.


4.            HR practices

There are several HR practices in an organization, which are as follows-

Maintaining health and safety in the workplace- One of the most important HR practice is maintaining health and safety in the workplace. The HR is required to create a safe, healthy and homely atmosphere in the workplace and feels comfortable and happy to stay with an organization for a long period of time. They capture the thoughts of the employees with the help of frequent surveys. They are required to take care of the health of the employees in any case of sickness in the workplace. They need to be treated properly (Dong et al. 2017).

Recruitment and selection- HR are responsible for recruiting and selecting staffs in the organization. The process of recruitment and selection is done by the HR of the company based on the mission, vision and purpose of the company. The practices involved in the recruitment practices such as career fairs at colleges and universities as well, where there are a huge number of students. The process of recruitment and selection involves a number of stages. They need to recruit employees on the basis of their qualification for the job role they are applying (Pourghasemi et al. 2017).

Training and development- The function of training and development is under the HR management activities that includes different types of trainings to the employees, such as, job skills training, professional development training, and leadership training and employee orientation. These activities help in the improvement of the job skills of the employees. These activities generally increase the value of the employees in the organization. 

Workforce planning- For the purpose of developing the solutions for optimum recruitment for the clients, there are two main objectives that are needed to be considered- long term and short term. A single program cannot fit all the organizations. For the requirement of each particular client, the HR solutions are tailored effectively (Griffin et al. 2016).

5.            Challenges of Marks and Spencers due to Generational Difference

Generational Difference

The company Marks and Spencers is facing major challenges in the workplace, due to generational difference. Generational difference is a difference in opinions between one generation and another in terms of values, preferences, and beliefs. Generational difference has a huge effect in the workplace, because of preferences and the style of management in the organization, because of their stage of career.  Generational difference affects the decision-making procedure in an organization. Motivation for working in a company also depends on the generational difference because the factors mainly vary with the age of the employee.


There are a number of challenges faced by the Marks and Spencers Company due to generational difference in the workplace. The major issue they are facing is because of their new chief, Steve Rowe, who is a middle-aged person and unable to understand the new trends and hence lack of productivity in the organization. On the other hand, from customer segmentation it has been found that most of the women customers are millennial and the new chief fails to meet their expectation. According to Marks and Spencers watchers, Steve Rowe requires more help from outside in order to reconnect with the chain’s army of middle-aged and increasingly disenfranchised female shoppers. The Marks and Spencers Company is required to improve their productivity in the workplace.

6.            Conclusion

From the above illustration, it can be concluded that the mark and Spencer should follow the effective strategy, which will help to develop the possible criteria for performing the different outcomes, which will help to make proper assessment for maintaining the strategic functions. Hence, Capabilities and the resources will help to define and implement the strategic implementation in order to maintain the sustainability factors in order to generate the efficacy in terms of maintaining the innovation, which will help to deliver and maintain the specification, which is required for performing the different activities of the business.  However, generational difference creates a huge impact on the Marks and Spencers Company. The organization is required to increase productivity in the organization in order to meet the requirement of the customers and satisfying them with their requirements. Therefore, the role of the Mark and Spencer should develop the strategies by recreating the innovative ideas for maintaining the different functions for performing the different activities. Hence, it is to be noted on the fact that the roles of the innovation will help to reach the sustainable development in order to meet the competitive advantage in the market. Hence, the diversity management will help to make a proper establishment by identifying the possible factors, which will help to deliver the relevant functions for performing the variable amount of function in order to maintain the sustainability factors, which will help to maximize the profit for the organization.

7.            Recommendations

Retaining and motivating a multigenerational workforce

Mark and Spencer should focus on the employee engagement that will help to maintain the crucial change, which is required for performing the different kinds of the activities for the organization. The rapid organization transformations will help to develop the sustainable factors, which is required in terms of globalization aspects. The management plays a vital role for retaining the employees in order to encourage their talents for staying. Hence, the Company should also focus for implementing the changes, which for maintaining the profit accountable systems in order to enhance the performance of the company.


Modification in the attitudes of the leadership about mutually constitutive relationship between generations and culture

The leadership in Marks and Spenser also requires modifying their attitudes, which will help to develop the effective criteria for performing the different actions in order to thrive in the supermarkets of UK. There is a mutually constitutive relationship between generations and culture. The challenge is mainly regarding the generational boundaries that people in the workplace face. The innovation will help to gain the competitive advantage for gaining the advantage for performing the different kind of activities, which will help to meet the positive aspects of the Company.


The new changes can flatter the structure of the Company List, which will help to increase the power of employee and the responsibility through the customer satisfaction with the help of the 4I’s theory of leadership in order to maintain the organization properly by following the current trend and enhancing productivity in the organization.

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