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Knowledge and Skills Required in HR Professionals- Marks & Spencer

University: Regent College London

  • Unit No: 1
  • Level: Post Graduate/University
  • Pages: 19 / Words 4739
  • Paper Type: Assignment
  • Course Code: HRMG203
  • Downloads: 679
Question :

This assessment will cover the following questions:

  • Marks & Spencer is a British multinational retailing industry of the United Kingdom. What are the skill and knowledge that are required in HR professionals.
  • Explain the need of continues learning and professional development used to sustain performance.
  • What are the ways to enhance the high performance which promote the employee engagement and provide the competitive advantage to the Marks & Spencer?
  • What are the methods that supports high performance culture and use to manage the functions of the organisation?
Answer :
Organization Selected : Marks & Spencer


Development is very essential for organisations to help them sustain in a competitive and dynamic environment Development of overall skills and performances of individuals and teams within an organisation encourages employee engagement and improves their job performances. In almost every company, individuals within the firm enhance their skills and knowledge through learning from their workplace environment and the training provided (Aarons, Hurlburt, and Horwitz, 2011). The following report is based on Marks & Spencer which is a multinational firm and a market leader in clothing and retail. This report indicates the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required by HR professionals and the determination of differences between organisational and individual learning. It also discusses how training and development are different. A thorough analysis of the importance of continuous learning and professional development is discussed, along with the role of high-performance work practices that could help the firm build better employee relations and improve its competitive position in the market.

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P1. Knowledge, skills and behaviour that are required by HR professionals

Human resource manager is responsible for managing and controlling the people working within an organisation. There are number of functions that are performed by the HR professional with company it includes hiring, training & development, compensation and many more. But in order to perform operations efficiently a HR officer of Mark & Spencer must have certain kind of skills, knowledge and behaviour which they require to exert while performing any operations. These qualities are explained below:


  • Law & government:- A HR professional must have a thorough knowledge of law and regulations that are formulated by the government of particular country in which M&S operates its business (Bolman and Deal, 2017). HR manager must known the standards that are provided by the government in term of working condition, health & safety law, employment law and many more in order to formulate business policies in an ethical and legal manner.
  • Personnel management:-HR manager must have a knowledge regarding the methods to maintain and develop the employees working within organisation. They must know how to prepare staff handbook, administrating payroll of employees, handling remuneration issues related to promotion and benefits, arranging training & development programs etc. This activities toward the management of employees support M&S in keeping its customers satisfied with their job which in turn will contribute more in enhancing the productivity of company.


  • Negotiation skills:-HR manager must have a negotiation skill as it support them in solving the issues related to pay of employees (Choi and Ruona, 2011). This skill help them in administrating the payroll of employees and it also support them in avoiding the legal issues that may arise when trade union also get involved in conflicts of employees.
  • Communication skill:- It is one of the most crucial skill that a HR manager of M&S must have, as it support them in maintaining an effective relation with other department. So that the policies and procedures formulate by HR department must be implement effectively by other functional unit. Further it also help HR manager to make employees understand about the duties they are required to perform.


  • Coordination: HR professionals are consider as a most crucial part of a company who are responsible for the management of employees. Therefore, HR manager must have a cooperative behaviour so that it can maintain a coordination between the employees working within the organisation. This also support in developing or implement policies effectively and managing staff performance.
  • Critical thinking: It is a crucial skill that a HR manager of M&S must have as it help in formulating effective strategies and policies which contribute toward the accomplishment of organisational goals (Hartnell, Ou and Kinicki, 2011). Recruiting eligible staff and developing a informed & attractive job specification that support in attracting candidates toward vacant position.

P2 Personal skills audit and professional development plan

Personal skill audit is a technique through which individual can analyse current skills and areas which are lacking. At work place there is requirement of different knowledge, skill, behaviour through to give best. But every one is not perfect, so with the help of skill audit, it provides chance to enhance knowledge and en-light carer growth (Herrmann and Herrmann-Nehdi, 2015). Marks and Spencer is the organisation which works with new and innovative idea to provide satisfaction to employees, so this can be possible when employees has current knowledge and in case of lacking, measures are taken to improve it. Jane Cambridge is working at the post of HR personnel, hence there is requirement of skill, so he can perform roles and responsibilities effectively.

Personal skills audit of Jane Cambridge is described below:


Very Good



Little or no experience

Information Technology


Use Microsoft office word


Use Excel Spreadsheet



Use specialist HR




Use a database



Use the internet


Use Email


Use PowerPoint



Very Good



Little or no experience

Communication skills


Drafting contracts of employment



Taking notes of disciplinary hearing



Write reports


Produce materials to support presentations


Delivering a training session


Resolving disputes






Advising on HR issues



Very Good



Little or no Experience

Problem solving skills


Make good use of verbal reasoning skills, able to handle complex data and make selective use of information



Explore more than one solution in order to solve a problem


Consider the ideas of others to help solve problems



From the above discussed skill audit plan, some positive and negative points are analysed. These are discussed as under-



  • Jane Cambridge has good knowledge about internet. This helps in accessing information from online sources.
  • At work place, there is requirement of training, so being HR Jane Cambridge is good at planning training programme. This helps to maintain long term relations with workforce and reduce possibilities of labour turnover.


  • Communication is not crucial factor which HR must possess. Jane Cambridge is lacking in this skill.
  • Problem solving skill is also weak in Jane Cambridge. Sometimes, there are conflict among employees, so he can not deal with them in effective way.
  • Jane Cambridge was weak in presentation and IT skills as well which affects performance at work place.

Personal development plan (PDP) for HR officer role

Personal development plan is an legal and structured form through which individual can take measure to bridge gap between skill possess by individual and skill required for specific job role. Personal development planning is the action plan under which different measures are taken in order to improve concurrent skill (Hislop, 2013). There is use of different sources such as online sources, seminars, books, etc. through which knowledge can be updated.

Sr. No

Learning Objective

Current Proficiency

Target Proficiency

Development Opportunities

Judging criteria

Time Scale


Communication skill

Jane Cambridge is weak in communication skill, so he can not communicate with employees in impressive manner.

He wants to improve this skill, so policies can be communicated in effective manner and interact with them in case of any issue.

This skill can be developed with the help of online sources, seminars related to communication, etc.

Peer members and subordinates

2 months


Problem solving skill

As Marks and Spencer is big organisation which has different employees having difference in perception. Hence there are different problems with affects performance of workforce. Jane Cambridge is weak in solving their issues.

He wants to improves this so harmony can be maintained within organisation.

By dealing with practical situation and guidance of top level managers.

Top level personnel.

3 months


IT skills

Jane Cambridge has weak IT skills so he was not able to record data related to employees and share information with work force.

He wants to improve this skill for the purpose of recording data related employees.

Certification course

Top level managers

6 months


Presentation skill

I am not able to present presentation in front of new employees related to overview of organisation.

Jane Cambridge wants to improve so being HR plans and policies associated with organisation can be conveyed to new candidates.

With the help of online sources, seminars this skill can be improved.

Peer members and managers

4 months


P3. Differences between organizational and individual learning and training and development

Learning refers to gaining effective knowledge through various methods that contribute in a better understanding of concepts. It is essential that individuals, teams and organizations keep this process ongoing in order to succeed and grow in the marketplace (Katzenbach and Smith, 2015). However, this learning is not same for individuals and organizations and the difference between the two is discussed below:

Individual Learning: This learning is termed as the capability of a single person or individual to gather knowledge through sources of external environment. These individuals gain these knowledge through personal reflection. However, one prominent way for individuals to enhance the knowledge is through interactions with other individuals present in the workplace or outside it. In Marks & Spencer, HR professionals learn certain skills after which they have complete knowledge about it. Even so, that they could generalize these skills in different scenarios.

Organizational Learning: This refers to an ongoing process by which learning is facilitated within a workplace. Concepts are generated, retained and conveyed within the organization (Landy and Conte, 2016). These concepts increases the experience of Marks & Spencer which enhances their performance. HR professionals, through organizational learning retain their employees and build better relationships with them. Moreover they enhance performance of these employees too.

The difference between these two types of learning is as follows:





It has narrow scope as this is aimed to enhance the knowledge of an individual.

It has wider scope as it enhances the knowledge of a whole organization to effectively retain their skilled employees.


Individual learning is flexible. It is not limited to specific training and individuals can enhance their knowledge through any source, within or outside the organisation.

Organisational learning is a rigid concept. The materials through which organisations could gain knowledge are provide by the upper management.


It is an ongoing process throughout a professional career of an individual, therefore, it is free from all time constraints.

There is a specified period which is decided to train employees of an organization decided by the CEO and the managers.

Training: This refers to the process undertaken by individuals to enhance their skills. The aim of training is to improve the performance of individuals of the organization (Nahavandi, 2016). HR Professionals in Marks & Spencer are required to undergo certain training and development programs so that they could perform better while managing and retaining the human resources of the firm.

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Development: An ongoing process of an individual, team and organization which aims at overall development in the workplace and in the market respectively. It could be development in the career of individuals or overall business development of Marks & Spencer. HR professionals in the firm through development, enhances the overall career up of their employees by deploying various methods within the workplace.

Below are the differences between training and development:





Training could be determined as a job-oriented process

Development is determined as a career-oriented process.


Technical skills of employees which are required to enhance their performances in a certain activity is enhanced by training.

The overall concepts, ideas and performances of employees are enhanced through development.


Since its a job-oriented process, it is limited to enhancement of performances of employees for a certain job.

This process aims at the overall development of individuals at Marks & Spencer.


It has a narrow scope as it emphasizes on immediate needs of the company.

It has a wider scope as it is not limited to a certain job role and applies a futuristic approach.

P4. Analysis of the need for continuous learning and professional development to drive sustainable business performance

Continuous learning and professional development in an organization is essential for an organization if it wishes to improve its competitiveness and enhance its profitability in the market (Penuel and et. al. 2011). Through these two processes, the productivity of employees increases and it enhances the overall business performance of Marks & Spencer.

Continuous Learning: The ongoing process though which the knowledge of individuals and organizations increases through adapting changes in the business environment and coping up with the latest industrial developments is referred to continuous learning. In Marks & Spencer, continuous learning makes organization more competent, which results in reduction in training costs and better commitment from employees towards the organization.

Professional Development: This is the process through which employees enhances their capabilities by accessing various training opportunities within the company as well as outside it. Professional Development in Marks & Spencer improves efficiency and enhances their productivity which encourages them to achieve effective results in the workplace. It also enhances the sustainability of the company.

Marks & Spencer could really enhance their performance in the market by establishing a culture for continuous learning and by giving them opportunities for professional development (Robbins and Judge, 2012). These concepts are of vital importance to the organization. The importance of these concepts is discussed below:

  • Improves performance and enhances personal growth: Continuous learning in Marks & Spencer helps the employees to improve their performance. Continuous training is provided to these employees periodically which enhances their knowledge and they get familiar with the procedures required to perform a certain activity. It also increases confidence in the employees and they are automatically motivated to work harder for the firm. Increase in performance enhances personal growth and satisfaction of these employees.
  • Enhances sustainability:In a firm like Marks & Spencer, it is very difficult for employees to sustain their performance levels at the workplace. Continuous learning helps the employees to ensure this sustainability. They could enhance their productivity and workplace performance by developing clarity in the concepts. Continuous learning also enables them to stay competent even in times of pressure.
  • Prepare employee for advancements:These employees, through continuous learning improve their performance at the current job. The result of this improvement makes them subjected to advancements in their career. Through continuous learning, they would develop a better understanding of concepts they are unaware of, which would ease the process of advancements for them.
  • Enrich employees' work experience:Through continuous learning and professional development, employees at Marks & Spencer get motivation from their impressive performance figures and it enables them to gain appreciations from employers as well as colleagues (Shin and et. al. 2012). Such activities enrich their work experience and ensures better commitment and engagement of these employees towards the company.


P5 State how HPW contribute to employee engagement and competitive advantage


High performance working means an environment within organisation which creates transparency, trust and proper communication among employees. This is the way which reduce level of hierarchy is organisation and motivates flatter structure (Von Krogh, Nonaka and Rechsteiner, 2012). While creating environment of high performance working, workforce is happy and comfortable with working environment. This helps to motivate employees to give best. There is use of different techniques through which they can motivate employees through providing chance in decision making. This give raise to employees engagement within organisation.


There are five elements of high performance working. These helps to provide good working condition to employees, so efficiency and satisfaction level of workers increases. Elements are as under-

Organisational structure- HPW insist at providing flatter organisational structure. This helps in communicating people in case of need and hence task are completed with specified time.

Task design- Task are designed according to skill competencies of worker. This helps to get best outcome from employees.

People- People means employees which are working to attain goals and objectives. They are satisfied because they are getting good and appropriate environment within organisation.

Reward system- Reward is one of the best technique to motivate employees for giving best. Under HPW, there is rewards and incentives which improves performance. When organisation is performing well, then Marks and Spencer are able to achieve good image in industry.

Information system- Information system includes channel of communication. Under HPW, there is formal as well as informal way through which they can communicate with each other.


Selection of specialized personnel- Under HPW, there is use of different employees according to skills and knowledge. When employees have relevant knowledge related to their field, so quality of product and services are good and fair (Wates, 2014). This helps to get competitive advantage in industry.

Better cooperation inside and out organization- HPW means there is less hierarchy, transparency in organization. So employees are satisfied with working condition and environment (Aarons, Hurlburt and Horwitz, 2011). This makes long term relations with workers through employee engagement strategies. When employees are satisfied, then Marks and Spencer is able to achieve competitive advantage in industry.

Decentralized decision making- HPW emphasis on flatter organizational structure. So employees have power to take decisions in relation to their assigned job roles. They are responsible for outcomes hence they give their best and use decision making power optimally. Hence there is employment engagement so there are aware about working style of overall organization.

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P6. Different approaches to performance management that support high-performance culture and commitment

Performance management system refers to the process which continuously measures, identifies and develop the performance of workforce within the company (Performance Management, 2018). The main purpose of organising performance management system is the improve the individual's performance and connecting their work with the organisational objective. For accomplishing this, M&S perform several activities under performance management system which are given below:

  • Reward & remuneration:-It is one of the most widely used strategy for enhancing the performance as well as productivity of employees. Under this approach HR manager of M&S setup certain reward over the particular level of performance. This act as a motivational factors for employees and they started working harder to achieve desired level of performance.
  • Performance appraisal:- It refers to the process where the employees performance are regularly evaluated by their superior (Bolman and Deal, 2017). Then the actual performance is compared with benchmark to determine the gaps between performance so that effective measures can be taken to improve those areas.
  • Performance objectives and standards:- Under this, HR manager divide the work into tasks and assign them by setting up over specific objective or standards. This help in guiding a path to follow for achieving the desired level of performance.

These all are the activities used by M&S under performance management system in order to improve the quality of performance for achieving desired level of productivity. So in order to determine the effectiveness of these methods following are measures that can be used by M&S. These methods will support in measuring the performance:

  • Comparative approach:-It refers to the method under which employees are ranked as per their level of performance with respect to others in group. Under this approach employees are ranked as a top and lowest performers where higher performer is rewarded and by providing proper training promoted to high position. On the other hand poor performers are given with a chance of further improvisation.
  • Behavioural approach:-This method consists of several vertical scales for different dimensions which are decided by workers. Employees are then ranked over these parameters as per their level of performance.

These are the performance measurement approach, but from the above two behavioural method is consider as appropriate for M&S (Choi and Ruona, 2011). Because comparative approach is undertaken when the workforce is relatively smaller, but as M&S is a multinational company it has large number of employees who perform different function. So in order to evaluate the performance it is very essential for HR manager to examine the performance of employees on the bases of different criteria.

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From the above discussion it is clear that there is requirement of some skills, knowledge and behavior at specified job place. As HR there is requirement of coordination, communication skills, these helps to give best at workplace. Personal skill audit is an approach which provides knowledge about skill required at work place and different between current and required knowledge can be analyzed. Personal development plan is relevant and significant for taking actions through which weak skills can be polished. To attain good image in industry continuous learning and professional development practices must be done. Individual learning will ultimately lead to organizational learning. This situation beneficial for organization as well as employees. HPW helps to improve relations with employees through employment engagement and achieve good brand and compete in firm. Behavioral approach of performance management is best to judge performance of employees.


  • Aarons, G. A., Hurlburt, M. and Horwitz, S. M., 2011. Advancing a conceptual model of evidence-based practice implementation in public service sectors. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. 38(1). pp.4-23.
  • Bolman, L. G. and Deal, T. E., 2017. Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Choi, M. and Ruona, W. E., 2011. Individual readiness for organizational change and its implications for human resource and organization development. Human Resource Development Review. 10(1). pp.46-73.
  • Hartnell, C. A., Ou, A. Y. and Kinicki, A., 2011. Organizational culture and organizational effectiveness: a meta-analytic investigation of the competing values framework's theoretical suppositions.
  • Herrmann, N. and Herrmann-Nehdi, A., 2015. The Whole Brain Business Book: Unlocking the Power of Whole Brain Thinking in Organizations, Teams, and Individuals. McGraw Hill Professional.
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