Teamwork – An Essential Core Value
bh in Brief
As one of the world’s largest fashion companies with more than 116,000 employees worldwide, H&M is an exciting and dynamic place to pursue a career within the fashion industry. Our business concept is to offer fashion and quality at the best price, and with our fast expansion we are always looking for new talents.
H&M Group comprises six independent brands: H&M, COS, Cheap Monday, Monki, Weekday and & Other Stories. We have 3,600 stores across more than 59 markets worldwide.
We have a strong corporate culture based on core values that describe how we work. The most central value is our belief in people: All H&M employees get to take responsibility and everyone’s ideas are important.
H&M is a global fashion company. It was founded in Sweden in 1947 by Erling Persson as a single store selling women’s clothing and now offers clothing for everyone in multiple locations around the world, including Canada. Wherever H&M operates, daily business activities are guided by shared values that include teamwork, along with respect for each individual and their ability to show initiative. To find out more about teamwork as a value, as a support to individuals, and as a guide to what happens in the workplace, bh put some questions to H&M Canada:
H&M sees teamwork as more than a way to accomplish tasks. How does it fit as a value in your corporate culture and why is it important to your organization?
At H&M, “We are One Team” is one of the seven core values that we call “the H&M Spirit.” These values are more than just writing on the wall – we actually live them. As a result, team work is part of everything we do.
We assess the ability to work as part of a team prior to hire. In fact, we spend several hours on the assessment process with our management-level candidates to ensure that they bring the value of teamwork with them when they enter the organization.
We talk a lot about symbolic leadership at H&M. It is important that all of our leaders model the value of teamwork in how they communicate and support the business. Our Support Office and Warehouse Teams, which in some companies would be known as Corporate, treat our store colleagues as our customers, providing timely responses to questions, and offering support when needed. They model the “We Are One Team” value by working in the store three times a year and supporting the store operations on every visit. Everyone contributes – for example, during a store opening, the Country Manager (top person in Canada) can often be found helping out in the fitting rooms.
Given that teamwork is a core value at H&M, how does it affect leadership at various levels within the company on a daily basis?
Our 75 stores are the “heart” of H&M. Our Support Office and Warehouse Teams would not exist without our retail stores. If you have ever been in an H&M store on a Saturday you can attest to the fact that everyone is busy, running product to get it back on the floor and often moving hundreds of customers an hour through cash and fitting room lines. You will see teams working together – managers and employees communicating continuously via their “walkies” so they can move customers to the most convenient lines to give them the best possible shopping experience. We trust our store managers to lead their teams by ensuring they have the right people, in the right place, at the right time to meet the needs of our customers.
Our store leadership teams – the Store Manager, Department Manager and Visual Merchandisers – model team work for our part- and full-time employees. They work together to determine how they will meet their commercial goals. Then, they delegate down to their employees, encouraging even the newest part-timers to develop a plan to complete their tasks and to communicate with their fellow team members to accomplish them.
At our Support Offices, space is communal to support the free flow of ideas and learning between departments. One department’s goals cannot be met without support from the others. We collaborate on annual goal setting and help each other achieve our objectives.
How does a focus on teamwork influence opportunities for individuals? Can being part of a team actually promote individual achievement?
The spirit of teamwork absolutely promotes individual achievement. We encourage straightforward and open minded communication at all levels and encourage employees to provide new and innovative ideas to make their store more efficient, more profitable or an even better place to work. Even so, as we said, prior to hire we assess prospective employees for their ability to work as part of a team. Throughout their life cycle at H&M, employees are rated by their managers and asked to self-reflect and evaluate their competency as team members. An individual who does not work effectively as part of a team simply wouldn’t fit in long-term at H&M.
In summary, what is the value of teamwork at H&M? What is the takeaway for other companies?
As the world’s second largest retailer our successful expansion depends on the strength of our people. We rely on our teams to work together and develop one another so that we have the right talent to help drive our company forward. It’s a beautiful thing to watch how seamlessly a store with a strong team works and how easily and quickly people pass off functions to one another. Teamwork cannot be just a concept; it is a value that must be modeled at all levels of leadership and in everything you do. bh