Marie Olson Brown, IKEA Global Talent Leader

Meet people who form talent ratings to support the needs of your organization

We ask Marie Olson Brown, IKEA’s global talent leader, about her most proud talent projects and why.

IKEA is a global furniture business that provides stylish, high quality, low cost products to customers around the world. Empowered by a culture built on “enthusiasm, oneness, and an attitude of accomplishment,” they aim to improve the everyday experiences of the people in the home. These traits are essential within employees to provide the best possible customer experience, but changing times mean that their talent initiatives now need more. ..

What is your most proud talent project?

One of the many things we are proud of is the Retail Reader Development Center. These have pushed the usual boundaries to support the leaders of a new era in retail. Customer centricity and an agile approach are essential to us and this project has helped our leaders grow and adapt. We believe that we have the best and most passionate leaders in the world. However, it had to be properly equipped to prepare for new challenges. In particular, we needed to be prepared for a turbulent retail environment where customer needs and behaviors were constantly changing.

Customers are at the heart of our leadership development strategy

Previously, the leaders in the retail industry were the king and queen of IKEA stores. They were experts in employees, sustainability, operations, customers, and product range. But in our new world, that’s not enough. Leaders now need to adapt to changing customer needs that move faster than ever, to prepare for information overload, and to adapt to new channels such as click-and-collect and digital.

We have created a development strategy that is different from many other companies. Prior to working at IKEA, I went back to the HR blueprints, pulled out the Leadership Competency Library, and planned the skills I needed through a human resources development plan.

We chose a completely different approach here. We put your needs at the heart of our leadership capabilities. We are proud of where we come from and always keep in mind our values ​​and leadership approach. However, to do so, it was imperative to identify new behaviors for our customers. This has mapped the capabilities and capabilities that retail industry leaders need to respond in the best possible way.

Entrepreneurial action is needed to create customer value

To meet the needs of our customers, we need leaders with excellent learning and resilience, strong and bold decision-making. Along with customer centricity and the omni-channel journey needed, entrepreneurship remains essential to creating customer value.

Now it’s too complicated for one king or queen to know everything about the retail kingdom. Instead, you need to be able to lead, trust, and empower your team and professionals.

To equip leaders, we worked with Aon’s evaluation solution to create a development center to evaluate leaders for identified core competencies.

Using the center, we understood what strengths and development opportunities leaders have against the new retail reality. The collective results helped create the relevant learning service. Individual results identify the needs of each leader and are supported by a customized development plan.

COVID-19 was a hit in the middle of the development center. At first I thought it meant a few weeks delay, but soon I realized that the pandemic was much bigger than I expected. We worked with Aon quickly and closely to try out the virtual program.

Measuring Success: Key Outcomes

We knew that virtual routes would be COVID safe, but we didn’t know if it would bring participants the same good experience or produce the same quality results. Therefore, we decided to pause and ponder after each center – if in doubt, decide to stop. We wanted to make our process an objective, professional and personal experience, so when we found it to work, we were excited to continue.

In our virtual center, as in the face-to-face center, leaders conducted exercises to measure their desired leadership abilities. The exercises included personality assessments, cognitive tests, interviews, role-plays, and individual business cases. Other IKEA leaders also participated as observers at each center to gain insight.

Within two weeks, participants were provided with a report presenting six core IKEA competencies, along with their strengths and development opportunities. A one-hour coaching session with an industrial-organizational psychologist was also held to identify goals for initiating a development journey plan.

We have completed 400 hours of coaching and have 400 role-plays in 32 countries, half of which is virtually.

Overall, the development center was a huge success. Completed 400 hours of coaching and 400 role-plays. This is equivalent to 1200 hours of group exercises in 32 countries in just 6 months. Among the leaders, we were able to identify the strengths and development areas of 4800. I was also very impressed with the overall experience, as I found that the quality of the evaluation was the same whether it was face-to-face or virtual. Virtualization can also significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and business costs by reducing travel.

What have we learned?

One of the key lessons was how important it was for the entire IKEA family to be fully involved. It cannot be a global project or an HR project. This was for business nations, supported by human resources development expertise.

The involvement from each of our individual countries was high, and each had full ownership of its own development. As part of our success strategy, our business was the voice and face of the project. This was done to ensure that leadership development is part of the business agenda and not purely an HR exercise. As HR, we have provided our expertise. We contribute and cooperate throughout, but the journey needed to be led by our business leaders and by our business leaders.

Beyond this, we have learned that it is possible to do the process virtually – and more than that, we enjoy doing so. Virtual processes can be more tiring in a way because they require extra effort to create a safe and cozy environment for virtual room participants, but it’s worth the great results. ..

We are very proud of the openness and curiosity of our leaders and organizations for the virtual solutions that make all of this possible. I am also very proud of the wonderful results and movements we have produced.

This is the eighth in a series of profiles for talent innovators. Read Others – Serco, Ocado, Siemens Energy, Schroder, Vodafone, Screwfix And Marks & Spencer – And see more.

Marie Olson Brown, IKEA Global Talent Leader

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