Style is one of the seven elements of McKinsey’s 7S Framework, a business tool developed by McKinsey consultants Thomas J Peters and Robert H Waterman to help organisations with forward planning, change management and performance improvements.
In our previous blogs, we looked at the framework’s three “hard” elements: Strategy, Systems and Structure, which tend to be easier to define and influence than its four “soft” elements: Style, Staff, Skills and Shared Values.
All of these elements can be applied to achieve the outcomes of a specific project or used to improve the overall effectiveness of a business or organisation.
How is Style defined within the Framework?
Style is the approach that is taken by the leaders in an organisation. This is often called the company culture. These might be top-level people, such as owners, Chief Executive Officers and Managing Directors, or middle management, team leaders and department heads.
The way that leaders conduct themselves and their style of management will have an impact on the company culture and how their employees work.
How does Style relate to the other elements of the 7S Framework?
Style relates to the other elements as follows:
Strategy – does the company’s Style allow it to carry out its Strategy or set up barriers?
Structure – does the organisation’s Structure work with its Style to allow collaboration and achieve its goals?
Systems – do the company’s Systems support its culture and approach?
Staff – does the organisation’s Style inspire and motivate its staff, are the right staff in place and are they able to innovate and progress?
Skills – do employees have the right Skills for the Style and culture of the company?
Shared Values – do the leaders demonstrate the organisation’s Shared Values in their leadership Style?
Establishing an effective Style
Good leadership is vital for a company to succeed and achieve its goals.
A good leader or manager will:
- Be open to new ideas and new ways of working, encourage innovation
- Recognise and reward staff achievements, not take credit for their work
- Avoid either micromanaging or taking too little interest in what employees are doing
- Offer constructive criticism and support to progress; never criticise staff in front of others
- Encourage an open culture where employees feel comfortable with speaking out
- Avoid being either indecisive or too set in their ways
- Respect that employees need to be able to switch off from work at weekends and during holidays; allow compassionate leave
- Never turn a blind eye to bullying or discrimination
Managers should lead by example, creating an organisational Style that is conducive to success. It’s very difficult for an employee to achieve their potential and help the organisation reach its goals if the company’s culture is set up to prevent this – and they will most likely leave for somewhere that has a better company Style.
The idea of Style might seem vague, but it can underpin the whole approach of your organisation. It is easy for poor leaders to create a culture that demotivates staff, resists change and prevents progress.