Staffing: the key to balancing strategic priorities and professional development
Integral to its business-wide deployment of agile methodologies, BBVA has to ensure that it has the appropriate skills on hand in order to advance its key strategic projects. To this end, the staffing process- an essential aspect of the bank’s cultural and organizational transformation -orchestrates the assignment of skilled resources.
“Staffing” generally refers to the process that assigns people to a specific work group whose goal is to deliver a project. As such, it is one of the fundamental pillars of success for the BBVA agile model; the bank’s ability to ensure that its highest priority projects are always assigned appropriately skilled resources depends on a proper and well-run staffing function.
Just as BBVA works with a Single Development Agenda (SDA), a system the bank uses to prioritize projects, it has also established a staffing system designed to accelerate the rollout of BBVA’s strategy via a cultural and organizational transformation. Specifically, the people on the solution design and development teams — whether business, technical, or process-focused resources — are charged with executing the initiatives in accordance with the strategic priorities as defined by the SDA.
The staffing function therefore requires accurate information about the skill sets for those individuals who comprise the project development teams, in addition to seamless coordination between different departments. This is the only way to guarantee the resource flexibility that is required in order to create true multidisciplinary teams, transferring talent to the initiatives where they will be of most use at any given time.
This process should not be encumbered by individual requests to be assigned to specific projects. Rather, it should function according to the actual team skills and what the optimal individual resource assignments are. Skills management is an essential piece of these inner workings.
A solid, holistic understanding of the organization as a whole is required to manage this information ensuring the Group’s strategy comes first, despite the particular needs of a specific department. The staffing process needs more than technical support: it must govern a process agreed across the whole organization and be free to overrule the limited perspectives of different departments.
A good staffing model will allow the individual to gain greater visibility and job mobility
Benefits for the organization and its people
From an organizational standpoint, a well-developed staffing model enables improved team liquidity, freedom from organizational silos, and the elimination of limitations that generally go hand-in-hand with individual job mobility.
It also enables a truer appreciation of the real skills needed to meet project demands by providing visibility into an individual’s engagement levels, and, at the end of each cycle, the contribution each resource has made toward meeting the promised results. The product delivery thus benefits from improved quality because, as mentioned earlier, the best and most apt skills available are dedicated to each initiative.
At the same time, it helps reduce turnover among valued employees. This model also serves to shine light on individual potential that might previously have gone overlooked simply due to organizational or bureaucratic reasons.
From the individual's viewpoint, a good staffing model will allow the individual to gain greater visibility and job mobility, meaning greater professional development opportunities. By applying her capabilities across different roles in various, multidisciplinary projects, she is able to expand her areas of specialization.
Furthermore, the employee will similarly benefit by acquiring a more complete, well-rounded view of the organization, a view that previously would have been limited to the department where the employee works. Consequently, this new environment and expanded vision gives her a better appreciation for the contribution she makes to the company's strategic priorities.
This model has to be grounded in new management and evaluation processes that are able to address a working world where people, roles, and functions are in constant flux. New roles — such as the mentor — take on significant responsibility in these changing environments, with the goal of guiding the rest of their colleagues along the path of transformation.
The HR staffer: function over hierarchy
This new organizational model is based on the various interactions between team members when they openly share their experience and knowledge. In other words: a network of relationships.
Transforming from a highly hierarchical organization to a more agile, flexible, function-based structure notably impacts the reach and influence of traditional players, like the “bosses.” Bosses relinquish a certain level of control to their teams, in general; and more specifically, to the resource staffers, by delegating the job of identifying and assigning the best talent available to tackle the projects at hand.
In summary, the hallmark of this new way of working is team empowerment because now each team member contributes her knowledge and skills and makes decisions without having to depend on the blessing of a traditional boss.
The talent staffer thus becomes a key player in an environment where the knowledge of employees’ technical skills and experience are no longer the exclusive remit of the boss, as is the case in traditional models. Rather, this becomes part of a wider process that serves the organization, free of the typical boundaries established between department and division silos.
Studies conducted by the research consulting firm, Gartner, found that “as digitalization advances, it will be more difficult for business to find talent to help them compete on a digital level,” therefore the talent staffer must be able to:
- Cultivate a collaborative approach to work, uniting multidisciplinary teams under a single digital environment in order to make the most of existing skills.
- Identify the organization's hidden talent based on team feedback, periodic performance reviews, information about technical abilities, practice communities, etc.
- Identify skills that are needed but not covered by current personnel, using this information as a guide for recruiting.
In addition, isolated activities are not sufficient to attract and deepen the talent pool; the process must occur hand-in-hand with the nurturing of a digital, agile, and innovative corporate culture, with teams that are adequately empowered and with projected career paths based on merit, results, and working to the vision of “One Team” for the entire organization.