Preserving Belonging during sudden strategic change

As M&S announce a large turnaround plan, closing multiple clothes and home stores, they face a tough test of their values and new leadership.

Retail Analyst John Ibbotson said “M&S’s humiliating withdrawal from 10 overseas markets is… a Dunkirk moment for [the] iconic British brand.”

At a time when Brexit is making us redefine Britishness, we are much more attuned to iconic businesses like M&S. For any company, it is times of pressure that show what they really value.

We talk a lot of about the belonging challenges of rapid growth or merger and acquisition: What about the belonging challenges of sudden strategic change, or avoiding near-crisis?

  1. How do you take employees with you and preserve a sense of belonging over time and especially through tough times?
  1. How can you uphold the principles of your ethos and heritage, not even, but especially in the hard times?
  1. What can leaders do in difficult circumstances to uphold a sense of belonging with employees who remain or leave you during change?
  1. How can deal with tough choices and strategy that appears to be a retreat without throwing away all your beliefs and value?
  1. How can you effectively communicate changes consistently with your values and ethos, so employees know what is changing, but also what’s the same?