No stock of managers is a bigger risk than no stock of kitchen appliances
In conversation with Lars-Erik Fridolfsson, Talent Manager IKEA Retail Sweden
We partnered with IKEA Trade Area South Asia in India, for a Change Management program 'Me & IKEA' in the year 2013-2014. Our keen engagement and collaboration with Mr. Lars-Erik Fridolfsson, as HR Manager IKEA TASA, resulted in an inspiring program which enabled 150 professionals of IKEA Trading Area South Asia (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) move to the next level. Growth, company values, and mergers in the Asia-Pacific region, were some of the key elements tackled in the program.
On completion, the program resulted in 20% increase in business volumes and 15% increase in employee satisfaction levels. Post the program 'Me & IKEA', Lars moved back to Sweden where he now focuses on Talent Management as Talent Manager, IKEA Retail, Sweden. We reconnected with him over a distance of 6000+ kilometres to listen to his change management experiences and gauge his thought process.
Spotting talent in a big organisation
When you spot leaders with potential, how can you create a growth path for them within IKEA? What should their development journey look like? How can an effective and productive succession plan be created? To quote Lars, 'We need about 300 leaders to meet IKEA's growth plans and we currently have 100 leaders in place. The challenge is to pave an efficient path so that we have these 300 leaders across IKEA's corners within 3 years.' As a talent specialist now, Lars is busy scanning people. Looking out for talent, keeping in mind a leaders maturity level, and then creating a development plan in accordance.
To understand what is the stretch-zone but also what is the danger-zone. Travelling across Sweden, visiting various retail stores, he tries to understand the needs of the people versus business requirements. Never losing focus of business goals, he is constantly strategizing and mining for hidden talent within IKEA. He believes that 'No stock of managers is a bigger risk than no stock of kitchen appliances' and currently a gap of 56% leadership positions needs to be filled up for transforming IKEA's ambitious goals into reality.
Trends in talent management
Just like any other sector, talent management too has its own new trends, developments and strategizing tools. There is now a whole new concept of 'agile teams'. A drastic shift from the old management style which struggled with hierarchy, multiple meetings, and slow decision making. The 'agile teams' are self-equipped and empowered to make decisions. Another hot topic is diversity versus inclusion. Diversity is now being overruled by the trendy 'inclusive' policies. Inclusion goes beyond diversity to form teams by including a mix bag of people with talent, skills, maturity etc. The third strategy used in talent management nowadays is about 'talent management with coaching'. Having spotted talent, how do you guide and coach that talent towards imbibing the same value system and key skill sets.
Responsibility versus passion
Lars is passionate about his work. He sees talent in every individual. The key is to enable that talent to develop and snugly fit it into the organizations business needs. People may wonder what their small contribution may mean to an enormous organization like IKEA. However, it is the leaders job to facilitate and ensure that every element in the chain counts. Leaders need to be able to see the whole picture of the organization as well as clarify that picture to others. Success lies is nailing down a strategy such that everybody understands that picture.
To quote Lars again 'My job is not only to select, but also train potential leaders in this concept. How can they best facilitate their future teams and make them feel they count!' This pilot to be rolled out in Sweden this year, may ultimately benefit other IKEA chains across the globe. Lars vision is to showcase to IKEA how they can globally embrace and implement an efficient strategy plan for potential leaders. The key lies in Sweden, IKEA's mother country, to be the role model for other IKEA chains globally.