Analysis of Personal Development required for Employment at IKEA

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I am keen to work for IKEA as a customer service assistant trainee when I graduate and approach to my career goal as a customer service manager. IKEA was founded by Ingvar Kamprad in 1943. Nowadays, IKEA becomes the globalized and leading Swedish home furnishings retailer with more than 127,000 co-workers in 38 countries. IKEA has been ranked 96th in FORTUNE's "100 Best Companies to Work For" for three- consecutive years.

Its corporate structure is divided in operations and franchising respectively. 276 stores are run by INGKA Holding B.V. and the rest of 37 stores are run by franchisees. IKEA implements the flat hierarchy within stores to allow everyone contributing ideas.

IKEA's vision is "To create a better everyday life for the many people" by offering diversified, well-designed and functional products at low prices that are affordable to majority of people. IKEA has a simple human resource mindset-- give career opportunity into the hands of individuals, encouraging them to consider assignments within multi- area to acquire different experiences. Together with the corporate culture that all co-workers have a contribution to make the success of the company, and every single role is important in its own way. This creates a sense of belonging for them.

Besides, since IKEA firmly believes companies should bear environmental and social missions, it participates in environmental protection, charitable and social activities enthusiastically. For instance, IKEA strives to use renewable and recyclable materials in products and donates €1 for every child's IKEA product to UNICEF.

In order to gain value from the customers, IKEA develops its competitive advantages by adopting the following strategies:

Business-level Strategy

Low Cost Strategy

IKEA implements scale economies and set global suppliers' nets which allow it requests lower prices. Also, flat-packs and let customers to assemble products themselves enable to reduce labour, shipping and storage costs. Thus, customers can pay lower prices.

Differentiation Strategy

Product Differentiation

IKEA provides a wide range of home furnishings and accessories to offer a one-stop shopping. Customer can buy furniture, bottles, bowls etc without going out deliberately. Also, its unique design appeals to customers' preferences.

Interior Design

Stores are designed in the "one-way" layout, leading customers and encourage them to visit entire stores that are different to the traditional one, which allows consumers visiting in any directions.

Corporate-level Strategy

International Expansion Strategy

IKEA expands its business by opening stores in 38 countries, it can enjoy scale economies and its suppliers are mainly located in developing countries, which bring costs down. Global branches make the product range to be universally accepted to appeal local customers.

Skills and Ability to be Needed at the Company

The customer service trainee bears the functional role; there are several abilities and abilities needed for the candidates.

First, IKEA is a service and customer oriented company. Therefore, the employees should have good communication skills and engrave the customers' best interests on mind so that they can give the customers the best experience feasible by providing suitable suggestions and supports. Finally, the friendly image of IKEA can be maintained.

In addition, as IKEA is a team of people, the team spirit is paramount. It desires employees to get the things done well through their ability to communicate, influence, respect, persuade and motivate each teammate. What's more, IKEA is a workplace where people and team spirit are central values; the employees should able to care about their peers and customers so as to create a harmonic environment.

Furthermore, the leadership skills shouldn't be ignored. They should enable to hear the ideas of co-workers, motivate, influence and direct them to pursue a common goal which is to create a better life for people and to do things well so as to continue the success of IKEA.

Also, it requires employees with the ability to solve the problems arise from the customers that change ceaselessly. What's more, IKEA is looking for someone with a strong desire to learn, an open mind to listen opinions, to improve and to develop continually. Last but not least, the willingness to accept a new challenging job.

Gap Analysis

To become the best possible candidate of IKEA, I have to investigate the gap between what IKEA would want from its top candidate, and what currently I have in my bundle of skills and abilities.

In regard to the communication skill and open-mind, I am qualified as I was the president of History Society and Art Society in Form 3 and Form 6 respectively. During that period, I had to organise different kinds of activity e.g. Art Exhibition for the members through the corporations with others and listen to their opinions about the activities patiently, and then analyse their opinions to do things better by taking improvements. In addition, this polishes my leadership skills, as I have to assign the jobs based on the ability of each member, listen to their ideas and lead them to hold each activity successfully. But I still lack some ability to motivate others.

Also, now I have many chances to do projects with others from different

departments, I can acquire team spirit, communication skills and open-mind to opinions. I also worked as a full-time salesperson in Stanley Market during summer holidays, this allowed me learn to communicate with others and answer enquiries of customers patiently.

Besides, I am willing to learn from mistakes to strike for improvements and I have the positive working attitude towards every works that leads me to finish them diligently.

However, I still lack several skills and abilities that IKEA desires. First, I am afraid of taking challenges as I feel nervous when things are not stay on track. Second, I miss the problem-solving capability to solve the customers' problems that happen unexpectedly and quickly. Lastly, to communicate smoothly, express and comprehend the messages of customers, a fluent oral skill is a must. Nevertheless, I am still unable to speak fluent English and Putonghua. This may make me mislead and misunderstand customers.

Develop a Three-year Action Plan and Show Evidence in Achieving the Competencies

In order to differentiate myself from others, not only I have to sharpen my current competencies, but also to narrow the gap by taking actions in these three years to equip myself to become the most attractive candidate to IKEA.

In year one, I have to start to learn how to motivate people around by starting from myself. I should find a clear goal which guides me to pursue my expected future. For instance, I set a goal to get a GPA above 3 as I was a science student and now I study a BBA programme which is irrelevant to what I have learnt. This can be indicated from the academic reports. Afterward, I have to develop this self-motivation ability to team-motivation ability to influence my teammates to pursue the common goal.

Next, I should learn how to learn actively, every subject should get at least a grade B in the examinations, this gives evidence of my familiarity with the subject taught. Especially the knowledge relates to management skills. I should grasp the ideas and learn from successful stories of well-known managers. For example, how they can tackle adverse crisis and how to make use of innovative ideas to help companies to differentiate. I also have to learn from the mistakes by analysing the failures of some managers.

In year two, I can join the Peer Mentor Scheme which provides me opportunities to cultivate and foster mutual care, support and motivate other people by organizing activities to assist freshman integrating into college life. A certificate will be received to prove my involvement.

Also, I can participate in the exchange program which allows me to cooperate and train my ability to communicate with foreigners in English. I can work independently and my problem-solving ability can be trained too as there are no relatives nearby. Photos can be taken to witness my ability to work and communicate with others.

Finally, I can apply for the Summer Internship Program in a company which provides customer-oriented service. This directly gives me opportunities to learn how to communicate and tackle the problems given by customers, enriches my working experience and knowledge in this industry. The job evaluation from the senior official can mark my working attitude, my ability and willingness to learn new things.

In year three, I can apply what I have learnt practically by joining competitions like The HSBC Young Entrepreneur Awards. Through preparing competitions, I can learn how to communicate, share ideas, influence, motivate others to overcome the challenges face and tackle the problems given by the company so as to fulfil their requirements. Certificates or awards received and the written reports can be used to evaluate my ability in dealing with challenges and solving problems. The newspaper articles report the competitions can also be included as evidence.

Finally, as my oral skills in English and Putonghua are weak, I will take practical courses within these three years. With regard to Putonghua, I can join the courses like Putonghua Learning Enhancement Program to advance my listening and speaking skills. While for English, I can join workshops like oral practices held by the English Language Centre's Language Lounge in City University. Certificates will be obtained to prove my ability in using the language and oral skills. Results of main tests of English language ability like IELTS, TOFEL can also be used to evaluate my ability.

All in all, only if I have a comprehensive plan and be perseverant in pursuing the goal, I can become the top candidate for IKEA and approach to my career goal in future.